Previously published in Examiner
Part 8 of the tips for caregivers series
How to interpret behavior and help the Alzheimer’s patient continued
Not wanting to bathe
Many Montreal care givers sometimes have a real struggle trying to get their loved ones to bathe.
Alzheimer’s patients may refuse to bathe and this could be for several reasons. Social graces are not a priority for people suffering from brain damage.
They may have felt they already had their bath and they do not need another one.
The bath may be a very scary place where they feel insecure in the bathroom alone.
They may fear they will slip and fall or fear that the water is too hot.
They may also be ashamed of exposing their naked bodies.
As a caregiver you will need to make sure that they do bathe on schedule. You may go into the bathroom and help them to bathe, and make the experience as comfortable as possible. You can offer to wash their back and give them a gentle massage. You may have to install a bar or bath chair for them, and you can hold a towel up in front of them when they get out of the bath so that they do not feel so exposed.
Due a condition known as agnosia, it is quite common for Alzheimer’s patients to fail to recognize familiar faces, places and things. Their eyes no longer see what the average person sees. Loved ones can be perfect strangers to them.
What you need to do as a caregiver is to stay calm, gently explain who you are; however, do not belabor the point. Try to explain to them what the actual place is that they are visiting, or the object they are viewing, or reintroduce the person standing right in front of them.
Do not get frustrated when they seem to understand only to forget again 5 minutes later. Try to surround them with as many still familiar things, so that they maintain a sense of security and slowly introduce some things from the past in order to jog their memory.
To be continued
Information for caregivers in the Montreal Area
Memory and Alzheimer’s Help in Montreal