Tools to Bathe Senior Parents

Maddawash Terry Bath Mitt

Maddawash Terry Bath Mitt with Soap Pocket

Bathing your senior parents is one of the most important roles you have as a family caregiver. Mobility issues and cognitive challenges can make it difficult for aging adults to go through the tasks of bathing themselves safely and effectively. Improper hygiene can lead to a variety of problems including skin irritations, body odor, and infections.

There are a variety of tools to help bathe a senior available. These tools help you to have greater control over the bathing process, making it an easier, safer, and less frightening experience for both of you. Using these tools will take away much of the fear and anticipation involved in giving your aging loved one a bath, while also helping you to do a more effective and thorough job without as much effort.

Choosing Bath Aids for the Elderly

When choosing tools to bathe your senior parents it is important that you consider their specific needs so you are able to select the bath aids that will be most beneficial for them. Some of the needs to consider include:

  • Mobility Issues: these are the challenges that make it difficult for your aging parents to move around. This may mean that they can’t step up and into the tub well, or have difficulty sitting onto the bottom of the tub and standing up from that position. Many seniors with mobility issues also have trouble movie around the shower or turning around in the spray. This can lead to serious falls.
  • Physical Limitations: even if your senior parents are able to move around well, they may still have physical limitations that impact their ability to shower themselves effectively. Whether due to an injury or medical condition that makes it difficult for them to reach, stretch, or bend, these physical limitations can cause a senior to not be able to thoroughly wash all parts of their bodies.
  • Cognitive Challenges: seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia often feel anxious or fearful when it comes to bathing. They may not remember how long it has been since they bathed or understand why they need to bathe. The sound of the water could also be unnerving and aggravating to them.
  • Sensory Difficulties: seniors tend to much more susceptible to cold and heat than younger people. This means that they are more likely to feel uncomfortably hot in the shower, but then get chilled when they step out. This furthers the anxious, insecure feeling and can make your loved one aggressively resist bathing.

Tools to Bathe Senior Parents

The goal of bath aids for elderly adults is to help you go through the entire process of bathing with greater confidence, comfort, and safety. Many of these tools are also designed to increase the dignity and modesty of the bath. Consider some of the following bath aids to help make bath time more pleasant for everyone involved:

  • Bath Mitts: this is quite literally a “handy” tool that helps you have greater control over the washing of your loved one, while maintaining dignity and modesty. These mitts resemble folded washcloths that you put your hand inside. This allows you to direct your washing to specific areas of the body without you actually touching your loved one’s skin. Some of these mitts are even embedded with gentle soap to eliminate the need to put extra soap or body wash on the mitt.
  • A Bath Hose: for seniors who have difficulty moving around in the shower or don’t have the cognitive functioning to follow complex directions, bathing thoroughly can be quite challenging. Using a home care handheld shower head is an effective way to keep your aging loved one safe while still getting her clean. Using a bath hose lets you bring the water to where you need it, rather than requiring your senior to move her body to the water. This tool is most effectively used in conjunction with a bath stool or bench.
  • Home or Travel Tote: keeping all of the materials necessary to give your senior a bath organized in one place helps to make preparing for a bath faster and easier. Be sure to choose a tote that is made of plastic mesh so damp materials will dry without causing mold or mildew.
  • Rubber Nonslip Mat: putting a nonslip mat on the bottom of the tub or shower will help your aging loved one get more secure footing when standing or maneuvering in the shower. This also makes a safe foundation for a shower bench or seat.
  • Nonskid Rug for Bathroom Floor: preventing slips outside of the tub is just as important as inside. A nonskid rug will not only give your loved one a warm, soft place to stand, but keep her footing secure when stepping into and out of the shower.
  • Dry Towels and Washcloths: you should bring several dry towels and washcloths with you into the bathroom. These towels will be useful for drying water out of your senior’s eyes, allow her to cover her face while rinsing her hair, and give you plenty to dry her with when she has completed her bath. Having several washcloths will allow you to use fresh ones for various parts of the body, making the process faster and more effective, particularly if the senior’s body is especially soiled.
  • Warm Bathrobe and Slippers: keeping your loved one warm after the shower will make the process more comfortable. If the elderly adult knows there is warm and comfortable clothing waiting for her after the shower she will be less resistant to the process. Make sure you keep the clothing away from the tub so it doesn’t get wet.
  • Clothing for Yourself: it is almost inevitable that while bathing a senior you will get yourself wet. Bringing a change of clothing or a plastic apron with you will help you feel more comfortable after the bath. You may feel silly, but you can also consider wearing a poncho or raincoat that allows full mobility.

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