Helping another person with personal care needs, such as bathing, dressing and assistance with using the bathroom, can be uncomfortable for all involved. It’s difficult to set aside modesty and allow someone to help with basic tasks when you’re at your most vulnerable. And sometimes seniors, particularly those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, become unduly distressed over receiving help with these necessary tasks, to the point that a battle can ensue.
These outbursts can be triggered by a variety of causes, which vary based on each individual, but in general, they may be a result of:
- Loss of control. Independence and autonomy may feel like they’re slipping away in a plethora of areas for seniors, and keeping control over the most basic functions becomes critical to them.
- What can help: Let the senior maintain as much control as possible, and come up with compromises instead of pushing the senior too far. If she insists on wearing an unmatching outfit, for example, allow her that freedom.
- Adherence to tradition. Standards of hygiene when today’s seniors were growing up were different from today’s, and a weekly bath was more the norm. 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. As we age, once simple tasks such as bathing and dressing can become fraught with fears, and often rightfully so, as the fear of falling in the tub or while getting onto or off of the toilet are risks to consider. 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: Simple modifications to the home, such as adding grab bars beside the tub and toilet and elevated toilet seats, can help keep seniors safer and 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.
- A little planning can go a long way in optimizing comfort, such as keeping the room warm, using comfortable lighting, and maintaining as much privacy as possible.
- Set clothing out for the senior in the order she’ll put each piece on, providing gentle guidance for each step if needed.
At Best Senior Home Care, we understand the difficulties that can surround personal care tasks, and we’re here to help with trained, experienced caregivers whose ultimate goal is to make sure that each senior feels at ease, safe and respected. Contact us at 718-224-0905 for more tips or to partner with us for trusted Alzheimer’s care services to give both your senior loved one and yourself peace of mind.