Working with nurses, we understand that in the later stages of Dementia and Alzheimers bathing becomes a common issue. Is this developed aquaphobia because patients forget what water is? Do they simply become confused, either way the whole process is distressing for both nurses and client. Especially if a family member is bathing them. Some patients are so scared the lash out refusing to bath which then impacts on hygiene and infection.
So what can be done to promote a calm clean environment for all?
Reading forums and Help Sheets we can see that providing shallow baths, specifically not placing water over the face is important. Introducing the bathing slowly and letting patients be in the room with the water also helps.
Some patients feel embarrassed being exposed in front of nurses and who can blame them. So to overcome this it is better to wash one part of the body at a time, maybe covering with a towel or dressing gown.
Tailoring a care plan and talking to the client around washing and their preferences is vital. Try and be flexible and listen to what they have to say, what would you want if you were in their situation?
Not only can you help the patient with all of the above there are products out there which will help the clients bath for example. If water going over the face is a big NO, then there are options such as shampoo caps, that no only are rinse free but the liquid is also contained within the cap as well. If you are trying the wash one body part method or keeping in a daily routine method which involves a wash whilst watching count down for example the non – drip towel off body cleansing foam is ideal. If the patient is so scared they won’t go near a bathroom anymore you can also get hold of disposable non foaming toothbrushes which you can use and bin, no need for rinsing.
Finally if you are struggling with bathing someone with Alzheimer and Dementia yourself, you are not the only and there are community nurses who will help with washing, just contact your local GP