Bathing: Turning Refusal into Appreciation

By Pamela D Wilson CSA, CG, MS, BS/BA

How many of you experience refusals by family members or residents who simply refuse to bathe? The excuses are common:  “I’m not dirty, I don’t need a bath, I bathed yesterday (when they haven’t bathes in a month), and I don’t work anymore so I don’t sweat and don’t need to bathe.”

How many of you when attempting to bathe a loved one or resident experience yelling, hitting, kicking, pinching or even biting? Does your loved one become agitated upon hearing the word shower or bath? How many of you now dread the experience of bathing as much as the person you are attempting to bathe?

Research by Gozalo (2014) confirms that bathing is an important but often difficult task.

Bathing is the personal care task most commonly associated with such behavior, with 20 to 40% of persons with dementia manifesting aggressive or agitated behaviors such as hitting, kicking and screaming while bathing. Moreover many remain upset for hours after the bath.

What solutions exist? What if you were able to reduce behaviors by at least 50% by attempting to use a different bathing technique? What if you were able to reduce bathing time? What if a previous traumatic bathing experience could be transformed into a pleasant bathing experience?  Are you interested in learning techniques to make this happen?

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©2014 Pamela D. Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

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