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Advice For Caregiver on What to Do If One Refuses to Bathe

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Posted August 5, 2013

 

  • Build positive associations with bathing: Precede the bath with a pleasant activity (listening to a favorite radio program) and follow up with another one (a dish of ice cream).

  • Build pleasant associations with the bathroom, such as hanging favorite pictures there. Keep the door closed for privacy. Buy the person’s favorite brands or scents.

  • Stick to a consistent routine for bathing, which becomes soothing. When you find an approach that works, try to replicate it exactly the next time.

  • Keep the room and water warm. Feeling chilled may be what upsets the bather.

  • Use as little water as necessary in a bath; a few inches is fine. The tactile sensation of entering water can cause fear or confusion.

  • Cover the mirror if the person talks about other people watching.

  • Put water in the tub before the person enters the room; the loud pouring of water can cause distress and your loud voice over it can be interpreted as angry shouting.

  • Place a brightly colored, nonskid bath mat in the tub or shower to help the person judge depth; put a colored carpet on the floor outside the shower or bath, for focus.

  • Use distractions in the room to take the person’s mind off the washing: Play favorite music, install a lava lamp on a shelf opposite the tub or hang favorite pictures, keep up a conversation about a pleasant topic (antics of a dog or child, old family stories). Give the person a washcloth or wash mitt to occupy their hands.

  • Act as if you have all the time in the world.

  • Simplify the process so there are as few steps as possible.

  • Never force or intimidate (nudge the person into the shower, lift their foot into the tub, threaten “or else!”). You can set off a contest of wills or catastrophic panic.

  • Be respectful but matter-of-fact about cleaning genitalia.

  • Know when to quit trying to persuade. If you’re heading to a stand-off after five minutes of negotiations, drop the subject of bathing. Distract the person with another activity and then try again 15 or 20 minutes later. Make it sound like a fresh new idea.

Source: Caring.com

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