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Bathing a Loved One

by Ryan Mackey

When a loved one loses the ability to bathe and maintain themselves, proper hygiene becomes especially important. Depending on the frailty of the individual, your level of involvement can range from offering minimal assistance to doing all tasks from washing to even toweling off. While every situation differs, there are a few recommendations that should help both you and the person feel as comfortable as possible, and allow for the bathing process to be as normal as possible. 

    Be calm when approaching the person about a bath, so you do not anger them and make them feel awkward in any way. If they oppose you, simply walk away and try later on when/or if they are relaxed.

    Bear in mind the person’s traditional bathing habits and try to adapt these “routines,” so they feel as relaxed as possible.

    Make the experience as easy as you can, by remaining composed, using a properly lighted bathroom.

    Do not argue with the person over when they bathe, rather walk them through the process and explain to them how easy you have made it.

    Recommend they take a bath and not a shower if they are able to get into a tub. Using a tub is less taxing on the caregiver and is much safer than a shower.

    Properly prepare the soaps, sponges, and towels needed ahead of time so the bath progresses quickly.

    If possible use a tub with a hand-held shower attachment that can help when washing the person.

    If the person is self-conscious about being without clothes, wrap a towel around them when in the bath to provide a feeling of privacy.

    Use liquid soaps instead of bar soaps for convenience circumstances.


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