Family caregiving can be a very rewarding experience. The role of caregiver gives loved ones an opportunity to bond and create memories. One aspect of caregiving that adult children and other family members struggle with, though, is personal care.
Assisting a senior who has Alzheimer’s disease with personal care tasks like bathing, grooming, dressing, and using the toilet can be physically and emotionally draining. It can also be uncomfortable for both people.
Family caregivers often struggle to find ways to protect their loved one’s dignity during these tasks. We have a few tips that may help make the situation a little more comfortable for everyone.
Protecting a Senior’s Dignity and Safety during Personal Care Tasks
- Environment: Be sure to create a safe bathing and grooming environment that provides privacy. Avoid throw rugs that can present a slip-and-fall accident. Install grab bars around the toilet and shower. They make it easier for the senior to pull themselves up and around more independently. Also consider playing soft music to help your loved one relax and to distract them from being embarrassed. It might relieve stress for the caregiver, too.
- Reasonable schedule: Many people think maintaining good hygiene means taking a bath or shower every day. The truth is, that’s usually not necessary. It may cause a senior’s skin to become dangerously fragile. Adults with Alzheimer’s sometimes develop a fear of water that makes bath time even more stressful. Try to set more reasonable goals for how often your loved one takes a shower or bath. If they live a sedentary life, that might be only a few times each week.
- Encourage independence: Researchers say encouraging independence in an adult with Alzheimer’s may help slow the progression of the disease. That means accepting that the more you do for a senior, the more dependent they become. Allow your older loved one to do as much for themselves as is safely possible, even if it takes longer. Adapt personal care tasks to make it easier for them to stay independent, such as buying an electric toothbrush or purchasing pull-on pants that don’t have buttons or zippers. This will help protect their dignity and make them feel empowered.
- Talk quietly: During shower or bath time, it might help you and your loved one relax if you keep up a quiet conversation. Talk about something you saw on the morning news, what’s on your schedule that day, or something funny the kids or grandkids said. Try to use a soft, soothing voice that distracts the senior from the task at hand.
- Protect modesty: Before personal care or bathing begins, get everything you’ll need ready. Adjust bath water to the right temperature. A towel, robe, undergarments, and clothing should all be ready to put on after bathing. Your goal should be to protect modesty and avoid putting your loved one in a situation where they are naked waiting for you to get the water ready or find a towel and robe.
Our final suggestion for Alzheimer’s caregivers is to try to keep a sense of humor and positive attitude. Caregiving can be a difficult but rewarding experience. Being able to keep the tough days in perspective will help.
Memory Care at Sunrise Senior Living
If you are struggling to manage the care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s at home, a memory care community might be a solution to consider. Our Reminiscence memory care program is a long-term solution designed to help adults with dementia and memory loss live their best quality of life. Call the Sunrise community nearest you to arrange a personal tour!
Source: Sunrise Senior Living