Tips for Family Caregivers to Overcome Dementia-Related Personal Care Battles
Assisting a senior you love with personal care needs – tasks like taking a bath, getting dressed, and helping with toilet needs – can be uncomfortable for both the senior and yourself. It requires the senior to set modesty aside and allow herself to be vulnerable. And when Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is added to the mix, the senior’s feelings of distress may become overwhelming, resulting in an outburst.
The exact trigger behind these outbursts can vary from one person to another, but some of the more common reasons are:
- Loss of control. A person’s sense of independence can feel as though it’s slipping away in a number of areas for older adults, and trying to remain in control over the most basic functions becomes even more important.
- What can help: Help the senior to feel as much in control as possible, and offer compromises instead of pushing the senior too far. If she insists on wearing an outfit that’s mismatched, for example, allow her that freedom.
- Adherence to tradition. Today’s standards of hygiene are far different from those in the day your senior loved one was growing up, when a weekly bath was the norm. If a senior’s memory is cloudy, she may revert back to those days and resist the idea of a daily bath or shower.
- What can help: Using positive, encouraging language can sometimes help the senior to see things from a different angle. For example, use bath time as a springboard to a following activity she’ll enjoy, such as a lunch date for which she certainly will want to look and feel her best.
- Fear of the experience. Bathing and dressing in older age can be fear-inducing, and often rightfully so. The reality is, there’s a real danger of the senior falling in the tub or while getting onto or off of the toilet. Some seniors with Alzheimer’s disease also may be fearful of the sound of water running, or may become upset by the feel of water that’s too warm or too cool.
- What can help: Simple modifications to the home, such as grab bars beside the tub and toilet and elevated toilet seats, can reduce the risk of a fall. Using a calming, soft voice and explaining each step of the process in advance can also help.
Keep the following in mind in advance of daily personal care tasks to help further in minimizing the potential for outbursts:
- Always allow the senior as much independence as possible to enhance self-esteem.
- Plan ahead for optimum comfort by keeping the room warm, using comfortable lighting, and maintaining as much privacy as possible.
- Lay clothing out for the senior in the order each piece should be put on, providing gentle guidance for each step if needed.
At Hired Hands Homecare, we understand the obstacles that sometimes surround personal care tasks, and we’re here to help with trained, experienced and patient caregivers whose goal is to make sure that each senior feels comfortable, safe and respected. Contact us at 866-940-4343 for more tips or to partner with us for trusted in-home Alzheimer’s care services to give both your senior loved one and yourself peace of mind.