First, it is important to give your loved one choices when it is time for a bath. Just telling him that 'it's time for a bath' could lead to an argument. It's better to ask him what he prefers:
- 'Would you like to take a shower or a bath?'
- 'Would you rather take a bath now or in 30 minutes?'
Next, do not fill up the tub entirely with water. Many Alzheimer's patients become afraid when they step into a large amount of water. Just fill the tub with three inches of water, and assess his reaction as he gets in. After he sits down and is comfortable, slowly fill the tub with more water.
Then, be sure to give your loved one tasks during the bath. If you can focus his attention on something other than the bathing process, it will probably go better. Have him scrub his arms or chest while you work on his hair, for example.
Always remember that your loved one may perceive the entire bathing experience as threatening. So, have some activities ready if he becomes upset. You can play soothing music or sing with him as you work.
Also keep in mind that even though your loved one has dementia, he still will remember his privacy. Try to help him feel less exposed by covering him with a bathing blanket while he is disrobing.
Note that mirrors can be scary for a person with dementia, so you may want to cover the mirrors or remove them if possible.
Keep in mind that there are many inexpensive and high quality bathing aid products available that will ease the entire bathing process. One of our most popular items is the Bathtub Safety Step:
This product will provide 4 inches of height as your loved one gets in and out of the tub. This provides more stability and safety, which is really important for someone with dementia.