Thursday, June 11, 2020

The dreaded shower & Alzheimer's/Dementia

Hmm, Really? I don't think so.
I don't know why,  but some people as they age they really, really, don't like to shower. They develop this aversion to water. especially when they are affected by Alzheimer's and Dementia. They become truly reluctant about taking a shower. Right down aggressive, if you really annoy them. I honestly can't figure it out. Much to my dismay, I have to admit that my dearest mom is one of those people, Oh, the horror! how do we deal with it? well, as you will, we have learned to pick and choose our battles, always avoiding a war! you know we have become experts in the art of negotiating and have become very good salespeople. 

Let's talk about this, is it really necessary to get into an all-out drag-out battle over a stinky, smelly body and hair? Hmm, the answer is NO!, if you have tried everything, and I do mean everything. From setting the proper temperature in the bathroom, where it is not cold at all. Yes, there you are sweating bullets because 80 degrees is just that perfect temperature for the person. Come to find out that, no, they don't want to get in the shower at all, no they don't want to hear about it. Uh -oh, they are getting irritated with you, you are losing this battle, leave it alone before you are in the middle of a war, over bath time.
But you think to yourself, they are beyond stinky, look at that hair! oh, my! - Yes, you have created the ideal environment to take a shower, the temperature is right, the water is nice and warm, the bathroom smells inviting, the favorite soap is ready to be used. You have gone to great lengths to put all of this together, and it's still a huge no! heck, no! oh, well! roll with the punches, always be one step ahead.

Don't despair. We have completely deconstructed the shower routine for our mom. It goes something like this, she goes to the hair salon to get her hair washed every week. She also gets a manicure and pedicure (trimming the nails/toenails on a regular basis will save you a lot of headaches). That takes care of three things in one shot. Well depending on her mood and noise tolerance, she will only get one thing done if the environment is too chaotic. Always keep in mind their mood. What time of the day you choose to do this is crucial. If you don't have a rapport with the stylist, please take the time to call ahead and do a mini-interview of them, ask pertinent questions, always give them the disclaimer that there is always the possibility of a  meltdown. If you are, as we are lucky enough to have a person that has known them for a long time, just explain to the hairdresser that the situation has changed and modifications with how they interact with them to be made. Make sure that you schedule the appointment when it's not so busy. 
The shower, you know I love wipes, yes, baby wipes can be, and for us, they are our best resource. Get your hands on a baby warmer and off you go. This can be part of the daily routine, with a lot of enthusiasm and gusto you start describing how you bought this new lotion that you want them to try.  you use the wipes first, and then you use the great smelly lotion. As you move from one part of the body, ie upper body, the lower body will be covered with a nice throw a small/medium-sized blanket. Then you change- vice versa.  Make sure that they are warm enough. You can also do a sponge bath, following the same process always keeping a positive engaging attitude. keep it interactive, give them choices in soap, towels, what would they prefer to use. Remember to sell it! this process works for both Men and Women, of course, some men absolutely have to shave! it has been part of their routine for so long. If you want to keep body and private part odors at bay, think wipes they are lifesavers. I use wipes for all over the body, every nook, and cranny! here, there, under, back, front in between if you know what I mean. Our aim should always keep in mind their dignity. No offensive smells around, fresh, and clean all the time.

Let's talk about quickly about their skin I'm a huge fan of petroleum jelly, there are other more expensive brands out there in the market that are called skin protectants. Trust me when I tell you nothing can compare to good old vaseline! unless you are allergic, although I have never met anyone that is. We use it on her feet, hands, elbows, knees, bum, and her face. Yes, you read it right her face, we apply a thin layer and wipe the excess off with a warm cloth and voila! perfect. let me tell you when a person is in the later stages of the disease, I have used vaseline on their bottom (pressure points) with great results, meaning no skin breakage, I have also used it all over their body to keep it nicely hydrated. So much so, that I received compliments from the visiting nurses, on how good the skin elasticity was. just go get yourself some vaseline and you'll be glad you did. you are welcome! :)

There are many reasons why they may not be interested in taking a shower. You have to figure out what works best for your person/patient/loved one. Stop and think, how many steps there are to taking a shower. They might find it very overwhelming, they don't know where, or how to begin. We don't know what is going thru their mind at that very moment. It is our job to figure out how to best help, assist them, with respect, patience, and consideration of their feelings. Reassure them that everything will be okay and that they are safe with you and that you will help them. Always be mindful of your tone of voice, body language, and demeanor. Keeping all of these things in mind will probably help you in conquering be stressful task of bath time.

As always, Be Prepared, Be Prepared, Be Empowered, Be calm as the sea! 
It's a bumpy road, you are not alone! As Always I send you a lot of positive energy.