Bathing is a common struggle between seniors and caregivers
Getting your older adult to bathe is a struggle for many family caregivers. The biggest worry is that not bathing will cause skin or urinary tract infections. Seniors might also get itchy or develop strong body odor.
But how often should seniors bathe to prevent health problems? We’ve got 3 essential bathing tips to keep your older adult clean and healthy while minimizing arguments and stress.
1. Seniors don’t have to bathe every day
Bathing every day or every other day is fantastic, but not necessary. Even though most Americans are used to showering every single day, that’s not a requirement for good health. At a minimum, bathing once or twice a week helps seniors avoid skin breakdown and infections.
Using warm washcloths to wipe armpits, groin, genitals, feet, and any skin folds also helps minimize body odor in between full baths.
However, some dementia caregivers say it’s actually easier to bathe their senior every day. When bathing becomes part of their regular daily routine, they’re much less likely to resist.
2. Running water isn’t necessary
Showering or bathing in the tub are the easiest and most thorough ways to clean the body. But if your older adult absolutely refuses or has limited mobility, a sponge bath will do just as well.
We found these helpful step-by-step instructions for how to give a sponge bath. Here’s a quick overview:
- Gather all your supplies and make sure your older adult is warm and covered up.
- Start from the face/head and move down the body, saving private parts for last since they’re the dirtiest.
- For warmth and privacy, uncover only the body part that’s currently being washed.
- Wipe one area at a time and change washcloths between sections so you’re not wiping with dirty cloths.
If needed, waterless cleansers, bathing wipes, and no-rinse shampoos (regular or with cap) will also work. These products usually leave a residue, so it’s best to try to wipe with a clean, damp cloth after cleansing with the solution.
If your older adult enjoys the bathing experience, they might be less resistant next time. You might try:
- Making the room toasty warm
- Playing soft, soothing music
- Dimming the lighting a little
- If using bathing wipes, warm up the opened package of wipes in the microwave in 10 second intervals.
- Giving a back rub or arm and leg massages
- Calling it “spa time” instead of bath time
3. Careful personal cleansing prevents urinary tract infections
Using the toilet
Cleaning the perineal area thoroughly after using the toilet helps prevent urinary tract infections.
Get your older adult in the habit of using moist wipes, especially after bowel movements. They’re much more effective at cleansing than toilet paper — just be sure they fold to a clean section each time they wipe.
Adding an inexpensive bidet to your toilet is another option for keeping sensitive parts clean.
Note: Make sure women always wipe from front to back! That keeps bacteria from getting into the urethra and causing an infection.
Wearing incontinence briefs
If your older adult wears incontinence briefs, check them every two hours or so. Change them regularly so they’re never sitting too long in a dirty brief. Cleanse thoroughly with a moist wipe during each change, making sure to wipe women from front to back.
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Pines of Sarasota
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