Bathing and shampooing.

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As a caregiver to my husband, who has dementia, I have solved the problem of bathing and shampooing, for myself at least, and I hope that how I am handling it might be of some use to other caregivers on this forum.

What I do now, as he has progressed where he doesn't want to sit in that chair in the bathtub anymore is this. I'll just saunter into the bathroom one morning while he is washing his face and hands, and I'll say, "Good morning! This is the morning when we wash your torso. And I have a clean undershirt here and a clean shirt, isn't that great?" Then he'll smile and say, "Yes." So then it just takes a matter of minutes to help him off with his shirt and undershirt and then I wet a washcloth and soap it up and give it to him and he washes his torso, under his arms, his arms, etc., and then I do his back, and I'm singing a catchy song at the same time. He loves this.

Then I dry him off with a towel, and I hand him the deodorant, and then VOILA! Done! Easy as pie! Remember, there is no law of the land that says you MUST give your patient a full bath all at once. No law at all! You are free to improvise, which is what I have done.

Then either the next day or a couple of days later, while he's watching TV, I bring a large bowl of warm water, strip off his socks and shoes/slippers, and place his feet in the water. I push up his pants, soap and rinse his thighs, legs, and then do a real job on his feet, dry them, clip his toe nails, followed by a fancy pedicure, including massage of his legs and feet with a foot cream. He loves it, and it's really a relaxing experience for me. The whole time he's watching TV.

Now we're all done with the bottom half of him (his privates are something he keeps washed and clean every day. Once in a while, he acts confused, and then I step in to help in out in that area; no sweat.)

Then a couple of days later, I shampoo his hair while he's in the bathroom washing his hands. I just step up to the plate, say "Guess what? Time for one of my fancy shampoos," and he says, "Okay," and that takes a matter of minutes, then rub with a towel and we're all done.

So I have found by keeping him clean and sweet smelling in bits an pieces takes all the anxiety away from both of us.


I know a bunch of people who will want to hire you.
Thank you, pamstegman! What a lovely compliment! :)
Great idea. I have not been able to get mom to shower for weeks. I know that's bad but it is just too stressful for her even when I set the water temp for her.
BeeBeeOG, if you try Willow's one-part at a time suggestion, let us know how it works for you. I think it a great idea.
I've read about doing this by bits and pieces. I just never knew anyone who actually did it. You proved that it can be done. And not only that, you didn't just give us a vague idea (like what I read about.) You actually gave so much details on How to go about doing it, that I was able to visualize it happening. What I vaguely read - you gave substance, real life scenarios so that I understand the concept of doing it by bits and pieces. Thank you!
You're welcome, bookluvr. It's just something I dreamed up out of sheer desperation, and it is working beautifully. Actually, today I need to shampoo his hair (long past due). But you know what? I'm not going to beat myself up because his shampoo is long past due. He doesn't smell bad, therefore so what? You have to give yourself a lot of leeway when you're a caregiver. It's either that or end up on the funny farm. :)
Excellent idea! I agree, I used to stress over not giving Mama a full bath every day and it finally hit me that she is not exactly getting out there doing yardwork anymore, running or exercising. Mama is totally bedfast, so I keep the "main parts" nice and clean and fresh, keep her changed regularly, and then I do the rest during our down time. This is one huge reason I am seriously considering whether I even WANT a bath aid here. It is causing me more worry than it is solving and since the new provider sends them in the middle of the day rather than early in the morning, but the time they get here I have actually already done what's the point...I am probably going to discontinue the bath aid. It's easier on me...and I think Mama, to just do it myself. I can also say it creates a LOT less chaos and mess in the house
Hope22, no wonder you were stressed out!!!!!! A full bath every day?????? Completely unnecessary even if one doesn't have dementia. The "main parts" is the important thing; everything else can wait. Besides, a full bath everyday for ANYBODY, dementia or no dementia, dries out the skin, which emits natural, vital oils. This mania we Americans have for the daily shower and/or bath is sheer madness!

Another good thing I did for my husband and myself was give up on his shaving. He would shave every day or every other day, but he never shaved completely so that there was always unsightly stubble left over on his face, especially around his chin. One day I had a bright thought (I don't have too many of them so when I have one, I get really excited). I thought why bother shaving anymore? It's silly. So I told him to stop shaving and start growing a beard so that he can look like a distinguished, elderly statesman. He liked he sound of that, so now he has a full-grown beard and, actually, he looks like a senator (I don't know whether that's a good thing or not, ha ha), but, anyway, it's a lovely white beard that matches the white mustache he already had, and all I do is have him sit on the closed toilet seat whenever the spirit moves me, which is about once every two months, with a towel around him, and I trim his beard and his mustache. which is a darn sight easier than trying to keep him thoroughly shaved every day. Ah, life CAN be beautiful! :)
You are so right! that is excellent. I quit worrying about shaving Mama's legs a long time ago...also the risk of nicks and all the bleeding that can occur is not worth it...I don't even shave my OWN legs anymore.....ha.....I think I finally am getting the hang of all the things that DON'T need to be done and just enjoy the extra time with Mama instead of stressing over things that don't if I could just get a handle on the drop in company...whose sole mission is more to snoop than to visit in the first place....
Willows you are indeed a talented and imaginative caregiver. I fail to see the necesity of giving an elder a shower. It is tiring for both a loved one and caregiver.
now Willows husband is still mobile and co-operative which unfortunately is frequently not the case.
Comfort is the most important consideration when it's "bath" day. Nice big soft towells to wrap the body in and a comfortable warm room. Only uncover the bit you are actually washing and just get it done. If you have to clean your loved one up after pooping take that opportunity to wash the lower half. the rest can wait till you change the upper clothes. As Willows does 'strike while the iron is hot" Not everyone will be as amenable as Willows husband and you may have to resort to "You vill take ze bath" Ya! always try and do it "their way" but don't let them give you the run around however many new swear words you learn.

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