How Do Caregivers Deal with a Patient Who Refuses to Bathe?

How Do Caregivers Deal with a Patient Who Refuses to Bathe?

Being a family caregiver for an older adult is a selfless act of kindness, love and loyalty. Such a noble role, however, can prove challenging, especially for those who were not trained as professional caregivers. We are reminded of this on difficult days, such as when our elderly relative refuses help with bathing.

Many seniors refuse to bathe due to the onset of dementia, concerns about safety in the tub, a lack of interest, arthritis, or other issues. Bathing is an important part of personal hygiene, and we must make sure this need is met, even if that requires us to change our approach.  Private nurses and professional caregivers are trained to do just that.. Here are some of their tactics:

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Use Negotiation Skills

Even though the older adult requires care, we must be careful to respect their dignity.  They have lived long and fulfilling lives and do not appreciate taking instructions as if they were children again.  In brief, this means that they do not like being told what to do. Private nurses and professional caregivers take the time to connect before providing care. This might mean preparing a favorite meal or taking them to see a friend after bath time. 

Speak Favorably About Bath Time

Trained and experienced carepartners understand your loved one’s mindset and frame bath time as a positive experience rather than a chore. For instance, they may use the words, “pampering” or “relaxing” in reference to bathing. They may even use nicely scented soaps to encourage your relative to relax while taking care to warm a towel for use before getting out.

In addition, private nurses are more compassionate and sensitive to patients who may be embarrassed by body odors and soiled clothing. This in turn helps the elderly patient to feel at ease. 

Professionals rely heavily on positive reinforcement in their work. Elders, just like everybody else, love compliments. A private nurse will be quick to point out how good a senior smells after taking a bath, compliment them on their choice of clean clothes, and so on.

Make it a Gradual Process

Sprinkler faucetA full shower or bath may be intimidating for some elders. Maybe your loved one falls into this category. A private nurse could break down the task into stages to make it easier. They may begin with simply asking to wipe off your loved one’s face. If they are receptive then the private nurse will gradually move to gently clean their underarms and other parts of the body, all while engaging them in conversation. 

The private nurse will stop once your loved one becomes resistant. They know that your relative may eventually warm up to the idea of a full bath or shower.

Having the Know-How

Some seniors may not like the idea of getting a bath from a stranger.  This is why it is important to build your care team early.  Trust takes time to develop.  After establishing a routine, older adults become comfortable with assistance, even when it requires help bathing. 

Nurse Care in Philadelphia, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties

Nurse Partners' LogoGetting your aging loved ones to take a bath can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Fortunately, you have access to professional help. At NursePartners our private nurses are experienced in helping your loved ones to maintain proper personal hygiene while helping them to keep their dignity intact. They are also trained to assist your loved ones with their medical needs. 

Contact us today by calling 610.323.9800 for a free consultation.

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