As people age, they may experience physical and cognitive changes that make it more challenging to perform daily tasks, including bathing. However, maintaining good hygiene is crucial to prevent infections, skin breakdown, and other health issues that can negatively impact an older adult’s quality of life. Here are some different ways to make bathing an easier ritual for your aging parent.
Use Safety Technology
Consider installing grab bars, non-slip mats, and a shower chair in the bathroom to help prevent slips and falls during bathing. Use bathing aids such as a long-handled showerhead or a bath bench to make it easier for your parent to reach and wash different parts of their body. Your parent might be resistant to these as they can view them as a direct sign of aging but it’s better to be safe.
Make Easy Bathroom Modifications
Make sure the bathroom is well-lit and free of clutter, which can make it easier for your parent to navigate the space. You may also want to adjust the water temperature to a comfortable level and keep extra towels and washcloths within reach. If the lighting isn’t great, you can look at higher wattage light bulbs to remove potential slip spots. Also, bare floors that become wet are potential spots for your parent to slip so use rugs that won’t move.
Make It Routine
Establish a regular bathing routine to help your parent anticipate and prepare for the activity. This can also help reduce any anxiety or confusion that may come with the bathing process. Allow your parent to participate in the bathing process as much as possible. Encourage them to wash their own body and hair if they are able to do so, and provide them with a washcloth or sponge to help with this.
Be Patient, Avoid Emotional Confrontations
Be patient and gentle with your parent during the bathing process. Talk them through each step, and take breaks if they become tired or agitated. If you make it an emotional confrontation every bathing experience, they will begin to dread that (lessening the chance they continue to bath regularly).
Bathing is an essential daily activity that promotes hygiene, skin health, and overall well-being for the elderly. It helps prevent infections, skin breakdown, and pressure ulcers, promotes circulation, reduces inflammation, and improves mood and mental health.
While some older adults may experience physical or cognitive changes that make bathing challenging, there are many resources available to help, including assistive devices, bathing aids, and caregiver support. It is crucial to recognize the importance of bathing for the elderly and to ensure that they have the necessary resources and support to maintain good hygiene and promote their health and well-being.