Caring for elderly loved ones is not an easy task. With age, they might not be as strong as they used to be and might need help to accomplish even the simplest of tasks, including taking a shower.
Moreover, old age could come with health complications such as arthritis that weakens their arms and legs. This way, they might find it hard to get into the bathroom, let alone taking a shower. Others may experience body aches, resulting in unbearable pain whenever you touch them. As such, you might even have to learn the appropriate bathing techniques to avoid hurting them.
This article will offer critical step-by-step guidelines on how to give an elderly person a shower. It will also point you to the best shower safety equipment and provide answers to some of the frequently asked questions on this topic.
How to Give a Senior a Shower: Step-By-Step
Before you begin the showering process, have the following tips in mind:
- Relax as much as you can while helping your loved one undress and take a bath. It might be an embarrassing moment for first-time caregivers, especially if dealing with a person of the opposite sex. Hence, a calm and relaxed appearance will go a long way in eliminating the tension, and the person you’re caring for will feel more comfortable.
- Privacy is crucial during the bathing process. Sometimes, the care receiver may feel confident in cleaning themselves or some parts of their bodies. In such a case, give them as much privacy as they need. However, stay close enough in case they ask for assistance.
- There’s a chance you may be caring for people with dementia. If that’s the case, they may not recall how to bathe or shower. Instead of undressing them in another room, let them go into the shower while fully clothed. This might serve as a reminder of how to take a shower thereafter.
The Bathing Process
Begin by gathering all the necessary materials you’ll need. These include:
- 4Body lotion
- 5Showerhead, preferably with a long hose
- 6Bath cloths
- 7Anti-scald valve
You may also need a heat lamp and a shower water filter.
Preparation for the Shower
- 1Prepare the shower chair.
- 2Have the senior change into a robe or shower attire, different from their regular clothes. A robe is a great choice as it can keep them dry after the shower.
- 3Bring the elderly into the shower area and help them sit on the shower chair or stool.
- 4Check water temperature using the afore-mentioned anti-scald valve to ensure the water doesn’t get too hot.
Assisting with the Shower
- 1Ask the senior to remove the robe or offer assistance if necessary.
- 2Apply soap or shampoo on the bathing cloth and let them clean themselves if possible. However, offer assistance, especially when cleaning the back.
- 3If you are not washing them, ensure they begin with the cleaner areas, like the face, and end with the less clean ones, such as the legs.
- 4During the bathing process, keep an eye on their skin condition. Check if there are any rashes or sores, especially beneath areas with creases and folds. You should also observe the bony regions. If sores are present, contact a healthcare provider immediately.
- 5Your senior may have trouble raising the arms to reach the head to clean the hair, especially if they have conditions like arthritis. In such a case, you may have to do hair shampooing and conditioning for them. Opt for no-tears shampoo to avoid irritating the eyes or no-rinse shampoo to save time.
- 6Ensure the shampoo and conditioner are within reach if the senior is strong enough to clean the hair individually. You can also opt to pass these items so that they don’t overstretch.
Rinsing off and Exiting the Shower
- Use the showerhead for rinsing off. However, this may be unnecessary if you used non-rinse shampoo.
- Hand them a soft towel to dry themselves off and offer assistance where necessary. Then, help them put the robe back on, and the bathing process is now complete.
Best Shower Safety Equipment for Seniors
Safety is among the primary considerations you should consider when showering your elderly loved one. There are several items that you should have in your bathroom to prevent slips and falls, which could cause serious injuries. Such items could feature the following:
Grab bars are a necessity in any shower. Traditionally, people would use towel bars to hold themselves as they accessed the bathrooms. However, these bars are not strong enough to hold a person’s weight, exposing the users to the risk of falls.
The positioning and installation of the grab bars is crucial since faulty installation might render the bars shaky and hence unsafe. Observe your loved ones as they access the bathroom and install the bars on the exact points on the wall where they put their hands for support.
High-friction non-slip mats are ideal for preventing slips and falls on a damp floor. Some of these mats stick to the tub or shower floor using sucker or other tacky ‘feet,’ providing a solid grip.
Ensure the elderly step on these mats as they exit the shower room after a bath. That way, they can walk comfortably while supporting themselves on the grab bars, reducing the chances of slipping and falling.
A shower chair is a sitting option for the elderly and those with disabilities, as most of them cannot stand when bathing or showering. These chairs may also help reduce the likelihood of slips and falls. The material used to make them is plastic on the sitting area, with non-rusting aluminum legs.
Shower chairs and transfer benches look similar, although the latter has two legs within and two outside the tub. This makes it convenient to provide support when entering and exiting a bathtub.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Giving the elderly a shower can indeed be a challenge. However, it doesn’t always have to be very complicated. There are some things you can do to make the process easier. For instance, you can make the bathroom as appealing and safe as possible by installing the necessary safety equipment.
In addition, you can create a loving bond with your elderly loved one and an approachable character such that they’ll not shy away from asking for hygiene assistance.