Don't miss the second part of our exclusive interview series with the amazing Amy LaGrant. Gain invaluable tips for creating a comfortable bathing experience for those with Alzheimer's and Dementia.
Amy is a TEDx speaker, Owner & Co-Founder of BrandMETTLE, and a board member of Alzheimer's Association Tennessee Chapter.
Thank you, Amy, for your time and sharing your expertise as part of Home Helpers Water Cooler Chat. Also, a very special thank you to our friends at TVGuestpert that helped to make this interview happen!
#AmyLaGrant #TEDxSpeaker #BathingTips #AlzheimersCare #DementiaSupport #ExpertInsights #CompassionAndPurpose
To watch Amy’s TEDx talk, click the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jj9cWKcrmv0
Contact: Amy LaGrant
Owner & Co-Founder, BrandMETTLE
[Jonathan] Welcome back to Home Helpers Water Cooler Chat. Today we present the highly anticipated second part of our two-part series featuring the incredible Amy LaGrant. In this second installment, Amy delves into a topic that affects many families and caregivers: creating a comfortable bathing experience for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
With our extensive knowledge, compassionate approach, and personal experience, Amy shares invaluable tips and insights that can transform the bathing routine into a moment of connection, dignity, and comfort. Throughout her career, Amy has dedicated herself to understanding the unique needs of seniors and family caregivers. Now she imparts her wisdom directly to you, providing practical strategies and heartfelt advice for navigating this sensitive aspect of caregiving.
Are you ready to learn more about making the bathing experience as comfortable as possible for individuals with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia? I know I am. Let’s go.
Something else I wanted to touch on with you today, Amy, is about bathing. We get a lot of questions about bathing. And so I wanted to just find out from you, you know, we know that with dementia or other forms of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, there may be anxiety or resistance to bathing due to changes in cognitive function or sensory perception. What tips can you give our audience on how to make bathing more comfortable for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia?
[Amy] You know, bathing is such a challenging topic, you know, from the perspective of being a daughter who had a father with Alzheimer’s. And, you know, I’ll share a couple of stories just around bathing and dealing with, you know, incontinence, which is also kind of a correlation to when you possibly need to bathe.
There was one time when I was with my family, and my mom and my sister decided they were going to take my dad on a little road trip. And my dad had an issue while he was there. But they were on a road trip. And, of course, my mom and my sister kind of called me in a panic, and I drove an hour and a half to meet them halfway where they were with a warm bucket of water, a bunch of washcloths, some handy wipes, and a change of clothes.
And my dad and I, my mom was, of course, a wreck. My sister is equally so. And I came in and was sitting here going, “All right, so I am a young woman who is going to need to literally bathe her father and clean up her father.” And, of course, my dad is mortified. He’s embarrassed. He’s a mess. We’re in the Carls Junior parking lot, and I have to clean and bathe him during that time.
And I remember taking a moment before we kind of got started because my dad was crying, and he was upset, and I just said to him, “I said, Neither one of us want to do this. Neither one of us want to have this experience, but we’re going to work through it, and we’re going to go from there.” And I think he settled down from me just acknowledging that piece.
And I think part of it from a bathing perspective, if you really think about it and think about it from a personal perspective, bathing is a very intimate thing that people usually do alone and also not having the autonomy to bathe yourself. People with Alzheimer’s may also not understand what’s going on. Things like the water and the temperature of the water and all of the moving pieces that happen when you’re bathing can be overwhelming. And then, on top of it, it’s something that you normally would do on your own. And now you need somebody in there with you. And if you’re a mother who’s now having your son do it, or you’re a father who’s now having your daughter do it, or you’re the head of the household, and now your wife is having to do this for you, it is a very emotionally charged event.
And so I think having that acknowledgment, even if it’s every time and then creating opportunities for autonomy within that experience, are there things that person enjoys? Is there a baseball game on that you could have played? Is there music that you like? Is there a favorite washcloth, towel, outfit, or, like my dad, loved the smell of eucalyptus? Yes. So everything that we use for bathing smells like eucalyptus.
Just creating those opportunities where you can make it last. And I have also found that this is my personality and may not work for everybody, but acknowledging it and, I think, having humor, my dad and I had a very similar sense of humor, very dry. And we would use humor to kind of cope, you know, our coping mechanisms. Some people cry, you know, we make jokes and are sarcastic. That is our coping mechanism.
And so, you know, I always tried to make light of it that these were, you know, things that may be embarrassing and maybe things that were you don’t necessarily love. And I think that acknowledgment also allowed him to be like, “Okay, you know, we’re not loving this.” And I know it all relates to people at different stages.
But I will tell you that communication with people with dementia can happen in many different ways. In some instances, if people are earlier in the stage and still have some cognitive dissonance that they are understanding, they’re comprehending. You know, you can be having verbal communication, but I will tell you the power of touch, especially as it relates to things like bathing, also a form of communication.
Then you can communicate a lot through eye contact and touch. And those things also create that connection and create that safe place for people. I also think if you’re in a situation where you’re fighting with it and just to stop, move on, maybe have them wipe themselves down with a washcloth that day, don’t create a bigger issue around it.
Also, create a schedule, and have it happen at the exact same time every day. Create the routine. So it’s something that they’re anticipating. I know the busyness of life can get in the way, and it's maybe not going to be able to happen at the same time, but set it up, create little reminders, put little Post-it notes on the mirror that say bath time is going to be at seven today, or things, so they can anticipate and get ready. Don't just spring them on them. That would be something else because I think that will create further agitation, prepare them, prepare them for it, and create an experience. All of those will reduce the agitation and create an opportunity where you can connect versus be at odds with each other.
[Jonathan] Very good. I really like those tips, Amy. And one of the reasons I like this chat today is because you not only show your expertise, you're tying it back to a very personal, personal experience with your father. And so I know that will mean a lot to our audience out there because I'm sure a lot of them can relate.
[Amy] Can I share a funny story?
[Amy] So my mom, my dad had just started using depends for his incontinence, and I had been doing a lot of bathing, and I was kind of, you know, done with the intimate moments with my father. And my mom was getting very frustrated with my dad. And this depends. And so, Mike, I came home from work, and I was with my mom, and she goes, will you please show John how to put these on? And I was like, Are you serious right now? Like, really? I'm like, I've been at work all day. I'm like, I'm exhausted. And I was like, okay, we're going to do this. Nobody's getting undressed. So we go in his room, and I've got my pants on, and he's got his pants on. And we put the depends on, and after a few tries, we get it all set and all ready. And he's like, He's got it. He is, like, on it. He's like, okay, I got it. I get a call from my mother the next morning, and my dad walks out with his depends on over his jeans. And my mom is like, John, what are you doing? And he goes, But this is the way Amy taught me how to do it. And so, of course, my mom and I had a little bit of a laugh. So she's like, “You got to come back tonight and teach him again the right way."
[Jonathan] That’s hilarious. I’m sure a lot of people can relate to that. We see that as well with some of our clients. And so, yeah, thank you so much for sharing that story. So I’ve got another question for you. In your current role in the Alzheimer’s and dementia role, what is that? I know that you’re on the board of the Alzheimer’s Association. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing?
[Amy] Yeah. So, you know, my personal and professional life is, you know, the ultimate convergence. So I own a company, and we are a consulting firm, and we work with a lot of different organizations. And I do a lot of consulting with companies and organizations that really want to understand how to reach this market and then also get insight into family caregivers and kind of what that looks like. So I work with a lot of organizations that way. And then, from an advocacy and an awareness perspective, I’m on the board for the Alzheimer’s Association here in Tennessee, and my main role there is that I’m really trying to increase awareness. One of the things that we are very blessed to be in is actually what we’re coining the age of treatment for the first time ever; we actually have treatments, drugs that are available to actually treat the amyloid plaques of Alzheimer’s. And most of the medication, most of the treatments are more about symptom management through Alzheimer’s and dementia. They’re really not getting to the core of the disease.
And so now we finally have those things. So we’re, but many of those treatments are for early diagnosis. So I spend a lot of time educating, going out and advocating and really trying to break down the stigma of Alzheimer’s caregiving. A lot of people don’t want to admit that they have Alzheimer’s because of the stigma of the disease. They’re worried that they’re going to get treated differently. They’re worried that their family members are going to kind of dismiss them. They’re worried they’re going to lose friends. And so a lot of people keep the diagnosis very close to the chest and are not seeking out treatments. Well, a lot of the treatments that are available now are really for mild cognitive and early stages of the disease. And so getting that awareness out that that is where we have the most success in creating more time with families as it relates to Alzheimer’s and dementia. And so I spend a lot of time doing that and then giving companies the tools that they need in order to educate their organizations on the effects that this disease is having on families and employees. It’s pretty crazy. The number of people that have a one-degree connection to this disease. And it’s frightening. And also just so disheartening that we have not made more progress. So I work very hard to share my dad’s story and let his legacy be what his that his life was not just for not that, you know, he was working really hard to fight this disease and of course, was not the first survivor, but his hope. And my hope is that fathers and daughters in the future will be able to, you know, be able to have more time together.
[Jonathan] So, Well, thank you, Amy. It has been a really big treat to have you here today. I think your expertise and experience in helping everyone affected by this disease is very important. So thank you for doing that. I also want to thank you just for joining us simply on the show today. I was so excited when I saw that it was going to be joining us, and I think that’s it. Any parting words before you head out?
[Amy] You know, I just thank you for having me on the show. Also, thank you for what you’re doing to help give families tools and for them to understand that they are not alone in this fight. There are many of us here who have been in their shoes, and I just thank all the family caregivers that are out there and what they’re doing for their loved ones that they are heroes. Thank you so much. So I’ll put your information at the end of the video and in the comments so your audience can reach out to you if needed. And to our audience. Thank you so much for watching this episode of Home Helpers Water Cooler Chat. And until next time, stay hydrated with great conversations from Home Helpers’ Water Cooler Chat. We’ll see you soon. Take care.
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