Monday, November 8, 2010

Taking Bathtime in PIECES

One question caregivers of dementia patients ask frequently is how to get Mom or Dad to bathe. It's one of the most basic yet most difficult situations to manage. Those with dementia resist bath time for numerous reasons, and understanding the source of their agitation can lead to cooperation.

During our recent caregiver town hall forum, one expert offered some steps to manage behaviors:

1. Identify and examine the behavior. Jot down what happened before the behavior and what happened after. Is there an underlying cause? What is the behavior trying to tell you?

2. Remember that you are always "on" in the presence of a loved one, who pick up on every word and every type of body language. If you're angry, they'll be angry too.

Find the source of agitation by considering this acronym:

P - Physical Cause
I - Intellectual Cause
E - Emotional Cause
C - Changes in Capabilities
E - Environmental Change
S - Social Change

When it comes to bathing, remember to view the situation from the perspective of the loved one with dementia.

The tub looks bottomless.
The room is too enclosed.
Sounds are enhanced.
They may not recognize water.
They fear falling.
They are confused, embarrassed and feel a loss of control.
Solution: Make the room feel more spa-like with warmth. Put adhesive strips on the tub to help prevent slips. Rub their arms and talk calmly through the entire process. Use a robe that unsnaps so you can continue talking to them as they disrobe and bathe.