Bathing Guidelines for Seniors: Is a Daily Bath Really Necessary?
Sinking into a soothing, warm bubble bath at the end of a stress-filled day, and stepping into a hot, invigorating shower first thing in the morning are daily pleasures for many of us. However it is possible to have too much of a good thing when it comes to bathing guidelines for seniors. You might want to rethink that daily bath or shower for seniors, for several reasons:
- Mobility issues
- An increased risk of falls on slippery floors
- The risk of skin infections from dry, cracked skin
- Thinner skin which can lead to easier bruising and other injuries
- And more
How Frequently Should an Older Adult Bathe?
A couple of times weekly is sufficient to keep up personal hygiene for seniors. In between, a warm washcloth can be used to clean areas that need additional attention. This is particularly important for seniors who wear products to manage incontinence.
Special Considerations for Alzheimer’s
One exception to think about is a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Because routine is so important when cognitive issues are a factor, a regular bath or shower may be a source of comfort. If a loved one with dementia is fearful or resists personal hygiene, however, try the following:
- Relieve fears. The loud, pounding sound of a shower or bathwater running is frightening for many older adults with Alzheimer’s. A handheld shower set at a minimal level is quieter and allows the individual to see where the water is coming from.
- Talk through each step of the process. Explain what’s going to happen in simple terms and in a soothing tone of voice prior to each part of the bathing process.
- Encourage independence. Empower the senior to remain in control of the bathing process whenever possible. Encourage them to participate according to their ability level, even if that means just holding onto the shampoo bottle or washcloth.
- Focus on comfort. Keep the bathroom warm. Turn on music they enjoy. Have lots of big, fluffy towels readily available. Use shampoo and soap or body wash in a relaxing, pleasant scent.
- Create a positive association. Incorporate a particularly enjoyable activity at the end of the bath time routine. For instance, provide a favorite snack that is only served after bathing so that it creates a positive connection.
Often, seniors feel most comfortable having assistance with personal hygiene needs from a professional caregiver. CareWorks Health Services’ care team is fully trained and experienced in providing support for safe, comfortable baths or showers. Our focus is always on ensuring dignity and respect and addressing any particular concerns or fears with skill and empathy. Contact us at (949) 859-4700 to learn more.