iStock_11498287_LARGE_spa-towels-300x291Assisting someone with personal care needs, such as bathing, getting dressed and using the bathroom, can cause some feelings of discomfort. It’s difficult to set aside modesty and allow someone to help with basic tasks when you’re at your most vulnerable. And there are times when seniors, most notably those with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, become terribly anxious while receiving this needed help, to the point that a battle can erupt.

What exactly triggers these outbursts varies from person to person, but some of the more common reasons are:

  • Loss of control. Loss of independence and autonomy can be felt in a variety of areas for older adults, and therefore remaining in control over the most basic functions becomes even more crucial to them.
    • What can help: Allow the senior to feel as much in control as possible, and compromise rather than push the senior too far. If she insists on wearing an unmatching outfit, for example, allow her that freedom.
  • Adherence to tradition. Standards of hygiene were far different when today’s seniors were younger, and a weekly bath, rather than a daily one, was more normal. A senior whose memory is unclear may revert back to those days and balk at the idea of a daily bath or shower.
    • What can help: Using positive, motivating language can sometimes encourage the senior to see things from a different perspective. For example, use bath time as a springboard to a fun activity, such as a lunch date for which she certainly will want to look and feel her best.
  • Fear of the experience. Bathing and dressing for seniors can be frightening experiences, often rightfully so, as there is a real risk of falling in the tub or while getting onto or off of the toilet. Some seniors with dementia also become fearful of the sound of running water, or may become distressed by the feel of water that’s too warm or too cool.
    • What can help: In-home modifications to enhance safety, such as grab bars beside the tub and toilet and elevated toilet seats, can reduce the risk of falling. Using a soft, soothing voice and explaining each step of the process in advance can also help.

Keeping the following in mind before you begin daily personal care tasks can also help keep outbursts at bay:

  • 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 Regency Home Care, we understand the difficulties that can surround personal care tasks, and we’re here to help with trained, experienced Atlanta caregivers whose ultimate goal is to make sure that each senior feels at ease, safe and respected. Contact us at 678-999-2446 for more tips or to partner with us for trusted senior care services to give both your senior loved one and yourself peace of mind.