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A Caregiver’s Guide to Bathing a Person With Dementia

March 20, 2023  |   3 min read
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Caring for a loved one with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or another cognitive impairment can be challenging, especially if they refuse to bathe or shower.

As their caregiver, you can make bath time a safer and more pleasant experience by understanding why they may be resistant, respecting their personal boundaries and creating a comfortable bathing environment.

Try these eight strategies when helping someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia maintain good hygiene practices.

Why People With Alzheimer’s May Not Want to Bathe

A person with dementia may become resistant or combative toward bathing because they feel embarrassed by the loss of independence and privacy during an intimate activity. They may also be overwhelmed by the steps of getting in and out of the bath, undressing, washing, and drying themselves with limited coordination.

Understanding these underlying reasons for resistance to bathing can help you approach the bathing process with empathy, patience and compassion. This will make the experience more comfortable and less stressful for your loved one.

Man opening the extra-wide door of the KOHLER Walk-In Bath

How to Help Dementia Patients to Take a Bath

Explore eight tips that can help create a safer, more enjoyable bathing experience for you and your loved one with Alzheimer’s.

1. Avoid Arguing

People with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty understanding the importance of personal hygiene and may feel embarrassed or fearful during the process. Engaging in an argument can cause them to become agitated or frustrated, which can escalate into verbal or physical outbursts.

Instead, try to understand their perspective and provide gentle encouragement and reassurance. Giving clear and calm instructions (whether visual or verbal) during the bathing process can help your loved one feel safe and reduce their stress levels.

older and younger women

2. Establish a Routine and Stick to It

People with dementia often struggle with changes in their daily routine, and bathing can be a particularly stressful or confusing experience for them. Setting a regular time and place for bathing can create a sense of familiarity and predictability, which can help soothe their anxiety and increase cooperation.

Man helping an older man stand

4. Incorporate Familiar Items

New or unfamiliar environments can be confusing and disorienting for people with dementia. Adding familiar items can help create a sense of comfort and relaxation while also providing a connection to old routines and habits. For example, using the same brand of soap or shampoo that the person has used for years can trigger positive memories and associations and help them feel more at ease.

Your loved one may also feel more confident using items they recognize and know how to use, making them feel more independent.

Women relaxing in bath looking into bath

5. Use a Handheld Showerhead

A multifunction, adjustable handshower can help the person with dementia feel more in control of the bathing process. They can see when and where the water touches them, so they aren’t surprised. It also allows you to target hard-to-reach areas and adjust the water flow and direction to provide a gentler rinse for sensitive skin.

woman in bath holding a handshower

6. Add Handrails and Grab Bars

Easy-grip handrails and grab bars ensure the person with dementia always has a secure grip during their bath. These accessories provide extra support and stability while sitting, standing and bathing, so they feel more independent and have peace of mind.

Man holds built-in grab bar in the Walk-In Bath

7. Play Relaxing Music

Listening to calming music in the background during bath time creates a tranquil atmosphere for people with dementia. Soft tunes can help promote cooperation by relieving their anxiety and agitation.

To enhance the spa-like bathing experience, pair the songs with soothing hydrotherapy, which delivers a powerful massage to the back, legs and feet.

Woman relaxing with hydrotherapy in KOHLER Walk-In Bath

8. Set the Perfect Water Temperature

The ideal bath temperature for a person with dementia is between 90° F and 105° F (32° C–40° C), which is just above the average body temperature. Keeping the water within this range has been shown to promote numerous health benefits, including better sleep, lower blood pressure and stress relief.

To keep your loved one warm and comfortable throughout the bath, turn on the heated backrest and watch their tension melt away.

woman relaxing in walk-in bath

How the Walk-In Bath Creates a Safer, More Relaxing Bathing Experience for a Person With Dementia

People with dementia or Alzheimer’s deserve to feel safe, comfortable and respected while bathing. The safety and comfort features of the KOHLER® Walk-In Bath can help enhance the level of care you provide your loved one and promote their independence so they can stay in the home they love longer.

“I am most satisfied with the overall convenience and safety that the [KOHLER Walk-In Bath] provides for my 86 year old aunt who has Alzheimer’s.” —Yvonne C., Pahrump, NV

Make bathing easier for your loved one.

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    “Everything the installation team did was very very professional and high quality workmanship, from start to finish. Their attention to detail was a sight to behold. We were always kept informed of all work, progress or delays...The KOHLER Team is right up there with the best!” - David S., Lexington, NC
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    “I am so happy with my KOHLER Walk-In Bath. It is my luxury relaxation spot for me time. The tub seat is great when taking a quick shower then sitting for leg shaving. The shower handle hose is long enough to hang higher in a wall mounted holder for stand up showers, or reach around your back when sitting.” - Mychelle T., Tulsa, OK
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    “We could not have wished for a better team. Very professional and were pleasant with their replies to our questions. The team explained in detail the operation of the walk-in tub.” - Ira And Therese M., Berkeley Springs, WV
KOHLER Walk-In Bath with wide door overhead
$1,000 Off + Low Monthly Payments

For a limited time, take $1,000 off the KOHLER® Walk-In Bath. Plus, enjoy low monthly payments. Contact us today to claim your exclusive savings.

See More Offer Details

Request a free quote.

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