Alzheimer’s and dementia often impacts on a person’s ability to remember about hygiene and personal care. The person may be reluctant to accept help with tasks such as bathing or showering and this can be a cause of upset and embarrassment. The reason may be a sense of lack of privacy or that these tasks have become confusion or complicated for the person themselves.
- Create a warm, relaxing environment to encourage cooperation.
- Be mindful of mobility and safety – consider using shower stools, slip mats and installing grab rails.
- Talk to the person – ask about preferences and offer choices about bathing or showering.
- Provide privacy – draw curtains & blinds and close doors.
- Ensure there is adequate space and suitable lighting.
- Gently encourage the person in the activity where possible.
- Be patient and offer reassurance.
Loss of control of the bladder or the bowel can occur. People can also lose control of both functions. It occurs when the brain is no longer able to interpret bodily messages such as having a full bladder. This can be one of the hardest aspects of caring for someone suffering from Alzheimers Disease. It is important to seek professional help at an early stage.
- Try to establish a routine such as using the toilet after each meal and before bed.
- Provide plenty of fluids such as water, tea, custard, ice cream, juice.
- Make sure the person can find the toilet:
- Leave the door open.
- Use night light.
- Put a simple picture of a toilet on the door.
- Use Velcro tape instead of buttons, use elastic waistbands – buy washable casual clothes for around the house.
- Disposable pads may become necessary – your G.P. or Public Health Nurse will advise you.
- Look for places with handicapped toilets for shopping and other outings: you can both fit in one of these so that helping and cleaning up becomes easier when you are out.
- Use laundry service for washing sheets if convenient