Safe Showering for Seniors
The person with middle to late stage Alzheimer’s may become unsteady on their feet and suffer depth perception which makes it difficult to keep their balance. Safe Showering is a necessity for everyone, especially the elderly, handicapped or those with Alzheimer’s dementia.
Many of us grow unsteady on our feet as we age or suffer illness. It’s not uncommon to have moments of losing our balance due to hearing imbalances, dizziness, fast movement, or weak muscle mass.
The person with Alzheimer’s or dementia may walk slowly and/or shuffle their feet to keep a steady and safe gait due to depth perceptions. As I have COPD and have lost muscle mass due to less activity, I’ve noticed myself moving slightly slower with less confidence. I think we all fear a fall after 60 and some prefer the steadiness of a walker if there is severe balance issues. A fall in the shower would certainly be disastrous. Showering is the #1 hazard under these circumstances. A slippery shower or tub can mean disaster.
Support should always be provided during any bathroom duties as most folks are alone and there may be no one nearby if help is needed. Showering and bathing can be a dangerous proposition if there aren’t adequate supports available. A handle on a shower wall, or sitting bench across the tub offers a degree of confidence when it comes to entering that slippery shower. Don’t forget a nice rubber grip bath mat in the tub or shower as well.
Besides Balance Issues, eventually, the person with Alzheimer’s dementia simply becomes more and more fearful of showers and bathing. Sometimes their inability to adjust the water temperature may be the cause but many times we simply don’t know what fear they feel. It can become a hard battle to keep them bathing daily, and many a caregiver is resolved to accept a bath or shower schedule of twice a week rather than daily. The battle is simply too difficult for the person with dementia.
My Mother preferred the bath chair in the tub and a simple hose with a shower-head attached. I would pre-set the water which removed some of the fear for her.
A few have learned the hard lesson of adjusting their own water through scalding themselves. This serves to increase their fear. In very late stage Alzheimers, when the patient becomes bedridden, Sponge Bathing is the only option.