My FIL (89) is so weak he needs help with bathing and is incontinent. How do I help with as much dignity as possible?

He is of very clear mind. How can I help him with getting off the toilet and bathing? He can only stand for a minute or two at a time. Please help me help him with as much dignity as possible.

Answers 1 to 10 of 13
Have you looked into homecare assistance? They have wonderful programs in some areas that allow for a caregiver to come right to the house and give baths and use the toilet. They can even assist you in learning how to do so and help him to be able to do as much as he can without assistance. They can also provide equipment sometimes to help with those needs. Bathing chair can help someone who can't stand in the shower but yet can still shower themselves. Toilet lift chairs can help with those having trouble getting up off the toilet. Walkers are wonderful with helping people walk when weak especially those with seats to rest on when needed. Lift chairs can practically stand up a person to help them get out of it successfully.

Is he on medicaid or medicare? He should be at that age. Hopefully someone else can help who might know how to get those things set up. My doctor helped with a lot and the equipment I was able to bring with me from CT as they had awesome resources and even care places that offered free equipment so that we didn't have to go through the medicare procedures and instead could just bring in the prescription and walk out with a used but awesome condition walker/wheelchair, bathing seat, toilet lift chairs, roho cushions, hospital beds, etc. I did end up paying for some though.
The bath aide is a good idea, but that doesn't really help with daily dressing, toileting and cleaning up after accidents. This is often a line that families don't want to cross, is it time to consider a facility for a short stay until he is better, or permanently?
Top Answer
I think it's lovely you want to preserve your FIL's dignity. Dignity is something that so often gets lost along the way when our loved ones are elderly and sick.

I used to work hospice and my patient's dignity was very important to me. There are a hundred little things you can do each day to restore and preserve your FILs dignity.

Always be mindful of his nudity. If you're in the bathroom while he's using the toilet toss a towel onto his lap while he goes (assuming he's sitting). Don't make a big deal out of it, just casually cover him up and go about doing something else. He needs to be transferred from the commode? As you transfer him position yourself so you can pull up his Depends or whatever he's wearing as quickly as possible.

You won't be taking these actions because you feel uncomfortable so always have his dignity in mind and don't give him the opportunity to wonder if YOU'RE uncomfortable. These things we do we do out of love.

You said he was incontinent. If he's 100% incontinent I'm assuming you change him while he's on his bed? Do you know to cut the side seams of the Depends with a scissors so you can just whip them off without him having to wriggle out of them? He'll still have to wriggle INTO a clean pair but you've spared him some potential embarrassment. If your Depends have tabs then this isn't an issue.

Have all of your incontinence supplies at the bedside and ready. Make changing your FIL as quick as possible and whenever possible keep him covered up. Only expose the area you're cleaning. Have a trash basket right there so you won't be cleaning up your area once you've cleaned up your FIL. You can do both at the same time. And while you want to be quick that's to lessen any embarrassment he may feel. You're not being quick so you can get it over with. You don't want to convey anything like that to your FIL. Just be efficient.

When bathing him, don't talk to him too much. It will come out sounding nervous. A supportive comment here or there is OK but keep the chit-chat down to a minimum. Once he's out of the shower and you're drying him off keep his genitals covered as you dry him. Again, I'm assuming he's sitting down while you're drying him. Comments like, "Shower day is always a good day, isn't it?" or "I'll bet you feel better now" are supportive and appropriate.

Give him choices, even if it's easier for you to do a particular thing. Would he like a hamburger for dinner or some fried chicken?

Give him choices in as many areas as you can, whatever you can think of. He may be awake at 7am but would he enjoy staying in bed a while longer?

If he has a beard offer to trim it (and take a pass at the eyebrows too). If he's clean-shaven offer to shave him. When we're sick we always feel better after a nice hot shower and some basic grooming.

When you transfer him give him a sweet pat on the back or rub between his shoulders for a couple of seconds. Find opportunities to place your hand on his arm for a moment or pat his hand. If he's in a wheelchair you can place your hand on his shoulder for a quick pat or if he's using a walker give him verbal encouragement.

Everywhere you look there are opportunities to maintain your FIL's dignity. He's very lucky to have such a concerned and considerate DIL.

Eyerishlash gave a wonderful answer. Try to overcome any embarrassment you may feel because that will definitely show through. Keep him covered casually. If it would be helpful discuss it beforehand. That may be awkward but it could help. I was in this position with both my father and my father in law. Actually it was harder for my father than my father in law. Levity always helps. Choose words that are comfortable to both of you. Using text book words like penis may not be as comfortable to him as a more familiar word. I think it will go easier than you think. Each man is different and each situation is different. Showing love probably is the number one key to making it go easier.
We cut towels and put velcro on one so he can be covered in front. The other is a wrap around to where i can assist getting him bath, pull shower curtain, undo velcro from behind curtain and hold him while he sits on bath chair.
Velcro is now my best friend for a caregiver.
If you're willing to help him, the rest will follow. Is he showing embarrassment? My father needed help his last day on earth and he was not embarrassed for me to see him.

Just don't gawk or laugh - ask him to wash his privates (this is what they do in hospital) and you take the back end where he cannot see. I even do this with my DH but in the shower I just do everything and move along from part to part.

As cwillie says, a lot of people can't do this part of caregiving - but I always told myself that it went in as food and comes out as processed food. I know - but you tell yourself whatever it takes to keep on keeping on. Really, what comes out is what the body doesn't want or need anymore. I remember telling this to my mother the first time she had to clean my dad. It's no worse than tending to a baby - only more and bigger, lol.

Bless you that you care enough to worry about his dignity.
Eyerishlass covered everything that came to my mind and better than I would have been able to. The only things I might add are we all have different comfort levels with this both as patient and caregiver, you know your FIL and will have a good sense of his comfort level. Remember this is likely much harder for him then it is for you on so many levels having nothing to do with you personally so try to take your ques from him. As the caregiver I found it to be much easier to detach from the embarrassment then I thought. Always put yourself in his place as your helping him with these things and you will maintain his dignity because you start from the ideal place of having concern and awareness of it.

I would also stress, always start as support letting him do as much himself as he can or at least letting him try just don't let it go on too long if he isn't able to perform that task that day. You will not only be fine but a blessing to him through this time because you obviously start from the right place, the heart. Both he and your husband are very lucky to have you in their lives.
What is FIL? And DH?
The abbreviations stand for father in law and dear husband.

To the above great advice, I'd also add that it doesn't hurt to have some relaxing music or TV on in the background. During my dad's morning sponge baths he is usually listening to his favorite NPR programs, and at night as we undress him and get him ready for bed we have a relaxing CD or YouTube selection playing. It makes it less awkward, I feel. Also, I have to say after a year of caregiving and taking care of my dad's needs in this way, neither my dad or myself are really embarrassed anymore. I don't think I was much embarrassed after the first few weeks. It helped that the rehab facility my father was at for his spinal cord injury trained family members in how to do various tasks, so we had a baseline of knowledge to work with. It would be great if you could get some sort of in-person assistance and help with how to take care of him, but YouTube also has several CNA instruction-type videos that are helpful on a lot of topics. Best of luck to you and your FIL.
In the toileting area, u can use a commode over the toilet. You take off the back bar and slide the commode over the toilet. There is a slash guard that goes were the bucket usually does. Its like a bucket with the bottom cut out. A commode can be adjusted for height and FIL will have the arms to support himself. He will feel more secure since the commode legs will help.

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