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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Watson

Are Sponge Baths Good Enough?

Getting an elderly person in and out of the shower is no easy task. For someone living alone without help it can be a real nightmare.

Add Dementia to the equation and you have a very challenging situation. So the question of sponge baths comes up.

Is It Enough?

Well now, that would depend on a few factors. An elderly person living alone may have trouble reaching areas that need to be cleaned. This could result in chronic UTI (urinary tract infections). These infections are brutal on the elderly. The symptoms are often very different from what a younger person would experience.

UTI's and The Elderly

A urinary tract infection in the elderly can cause a host of bizarre symptoms. Behavioral changes are often noted. The sweet little old lady may suddenly turn mean. Someone who never cursed before may begin curing like a sailor. Agitation and severe anxiety or depression is also common in an elderly person with a UTI.

One way to help lesson the chance of a UTI is cleanliness. Keeping clean and dry is important. Even someone who is not considered incontinent may have small amounts of bladder leakage from time to time.

So Is It Enough?

My opinion is that even with a sponge bath many of our elderly need assistance. It can be enough if they have the right help and the caregiver is diligent about the process. Ideally, you would want to get someone into a bath/shower at least a couple of times a week. But we don't always live in an ideal world, do we?

Sometimes the fight is just not worth it

A lot of times,people with dementia do not want to take a bath. They may scream and really pitch a fit. There are many theories about why people with dementia do not want to bathe. The why is not as important as what you do about the situation.

Here are a few suggestions to coax someone with dementia into taking a bath.

  • Prepare the room. Make sure the temperature in the room and the water is comfortable.

  • Add some aromatherapy. Create an atmosphere of relaxation. Lavender is a good choice.

  • Add music. Again you want to create a spa like atmosphere.

You may also want to see if you can uncover any hidden reasons why the person is refusing to take a bath? They may not like the person helping them. They may be embarrassed. The time of day may need to be adjusted. It could even be painful. Every possible reason should be explored.

When this fails, a sponge bath is the next best thing. The key is to do the best that you can do all while helping the person you care for to be as comfortable as possible.

The Team Approach

At Light Heart Memory Care our caregivers are trained to make bath time as comfortable as possible for each resident. We understand that some of our residents may not want to take a bath. As such, we approach the situation with each resident as an individual preserving the dignity of our residents is as important as keeping them clean and healthy.

It takes a team to care for someone with dementia. We would love to be a part of your team. Come visit us today!

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