3 Tips on Elder Care Bathing

A hundred years ago, washing clothes was a time consuming all day affair, and baths were an infrequent luxury.  We have progressed over the years.  When we age, bathing can still fall into the infrequent category for many reasons.

When people age, they can become less steady on their feet and the job of getting into the shower or bath tub may seem like a page out of a horror novel.  They are so many scary obstacles to overcome; slick surfaces, stepping higher to get over the lip of the bath tub, weakness after they have gotten in, etc.

When Dad was still living at home, he treasured his “alone bath time”.  He enjoyed soaking in a warm tub and scrubbing away his troubles.  After he had finished soaking and scrubbing, he needed to get out.  That became the challenge.

The first time he was unable to get out, my husband was available to help him out of the tub.  On another occasion, the neighbor next door was enlisted to help.  I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “the third time is the charm”.  It didn’t hold true for a third charmed bath, Mom had to call the fire department to help get him out of his beloved tub.  It was time for a change.

Dad is a veteran.  He was able to qualify with the Veterans Administration to received help from them regarding his medications.  When he needed assistance with bathing and dressing, it was a logical step to find out what services they could provide for him.  We were pleased at what they had to offer.  Bathing for him, plus some light housekeeping for Mom.  They even provided for adult day care 2 days a week, which gave Mom some much needed time to herself.

As your elderly loved one becomes weaker and less steady, you may notice changes in their bathing habits.  With Mom, I noticed an increase in body odor and she seemed less clean than before.  When I asked, she was honest with me, and told me she felt insecure when it came to bathing.  She had begun to feel unsteady and unsafe stepping up and over the tub side to get in and out of the shower.  Fortunately, medicare provided those same services to her as Dad was receiving from the VA.

If your loved senior citizen comes to live with you, it will be easier to see the changes.  You, or your loved one, may not feel comfortable performing these bathing tasks for them.  When someone is dependent on help, it can be easy to develop a controlling attitude when helping with those tasks.

Here are a few tips I have picked up when helping with the bathing ritual.

1.  The use of bath chairs which fit over the side of the tub, and shower chairs which independently sits in the shower area are tremendous help to the elder and to the caregiver.

2.  Installing grab bars in locations such as; next to the toilet, in the bath tub and shower area and by the bathroom sink.  This helps them pull themselves up and they feel more steady.  It, also, helps the care giver get them in and out of the bath.

3.  Use bath products which are gentle and non drying.  Our elders skin becomes more fragile and thinner as they age.   Shaklee has a wonderful product called Basic H.  It is easy to use, squirt some in a basin of water to bath them.  It isn’t necessary to rinse it off.  It is mild and less drying on their skin than regular soap.   There are several “no rinse shampoos” available on the market.  This makes hair washing easier, in situations where they are bedridden and water can’t be used to rinse their hair.

After I had found the services to help them, I noticed Dad still had an odor about him.  He was incontinent and using the pull up Depends.  My investigations found that the aide was washing their clothes,  but the washer would only fill up and drain, it wasn’t agitating.  A change of washing machines fixed the problem.

If you notice odor on your loved ones clothes, try using a laundry boost product such as oxiclean or a germicide such as Shaklee’s Basic G.  Basic G is great to take urine odors out of carpets and furniture.

Cleaning their “special spots” daily is a must to keep from getting Urinary Track Infections (UTI) or bacterial skin infections. If these areas are cleaned every day, you may be wondering how many full baths or showers does your aging loved one need per week?  That question is a personal preference.  Both of my parents are now residing in the Iowa Veterans Home and they are bathed 2 – 3 times a week. I would say, if they aren’t breaking into  sweats, one or two times a week should do the trick.  But, everyone is different, you’ll have to decide what is right for your situation.

All of us who care for our elderly have our own special things which work for us.  Please feel free to share your helpful comments with all of us.

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