Community Blog

How to Shower a Senior With Dementia

By Patti Soisson

Home Helpers knows that one of the most challenging parts of being a caregiver for a senior with dementia is bath time. You may experience a lot of resistance that can lead to frustration and injury on both sides. Yet you can’t skip out on the personal hygiene part of senior care, as it can result in rashes, infections and bad odor. Thankfully, there are simple tips you can follow to make bathing less difficult and more pleasant for both of you.


Reasons Behind Resistance to Bathing

 Dementia clients may not cooperate because they:


  • Do not remember why bathing is necessary
  • Lose modesty and privacy
  • Are sensitive to the temperature and pressure of the water
  • Lack independence
  • Are impatient or uncomfortable with the process


Being aware of the reasons why those with dementia resist bath time can help you know how to better approach the situation.


Prepping for Bath Time

All it takes is some preparation to make the experience go more smoothly. First, ensure that the bathroom and shower or tub is safe for the senior. You may need to install a bench or chair, a grab bar, and a non-skid mat. Next, gather all your supplies to avoid having to leave the person alone while you retrieve something. Once you are ready to begin, ask the client if he or she would like to take a bath or shower, and prepare the water accordingly.


Making Bathing Easier

 Try the following tips to make the process easier.


  1. Make sure the senior is comfortable with the caregiver. It may help if both are the same sex.
  2. Walk the client through the process. Keep it simple.
  3. Give the person a responsibility, such as holding the soap or washing a body part if able.
  4. Allow as much modesty as possible by using towels, bath robes, and washcloths for covering.
  5. Be gentle while washing, rinsing, and drying.


Having a consistent time for showering also can encourage cooperation because the event doesn’t come as a surprise.


Handling Resistance

If the dementia client still resists, try a different approach. You can try again later when the person is in a better mood, or you can give a sponge bath instead. Playing soothing music or singing to the client can be calming. The best solution is to find out what the specific fear is and address it. Learn more about providing senior care to those with dementia or contact us if you have any questions.