The bathing habits of an individual with dementia ideally should follow the same pattern as prior to the onset of the disease. If someone showered every day in the morning, aim for that; if they bathed every other evening, stick with that routine. The rule of thumb: Bathing should occur as frequently as before unless specific hygiene needs or behavioral changes arise. For example, adjustments may be necessary if an individual is severely agitated, wakes up soiled in the morning, or experiences behavioral problems, or "sundowning," as evening approaches.
Bathing is a complex activity of daily living composed of several phases: undressing, introduction into the shower or tub, washing, drying and re-dressing. Recognizing a person's abilities and preparing ahead of time can help simplify the process.
Note: Be flexible. Bathing does not have to occur daily. If the regular routine stops working, try sponge baths, switch to every other day or change the time of day.
For more information, connect with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s licensed social workers. Click here or call 866.232.8484. Real People. Real Care.