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A shower can increase a person's sense of comfort and well-being. And it's also a good time to check their skin for sores or rashes.
How often a person bathes can depend on their condition and their wishes. If you can, try to let the person choose when they bathe.
To take a shower, the person may need help to step over the side of a bathtub or the edge of a shower stall. But they may need only a little help to take a shower. Let them do as much of the bathing as possible.
Handrails and a non-skid mat inside and outside the shower or tub can help prevent falls. A shower chair or a bench also is a good idea. You can find many styles of these devices. With a shower chair, the person can sit in either the shower or the tub while bathing. A bench sits on the edges of the bathtub. The person can sit on the bench and then swing their legs into the tub. The bench can help a person get into the tub and can be used during the shower.
As you help to undress and bathe the person, try to be as relaxed as possible. If you are calm and don't seem embarrassed, they may feel more comfortable.
Give the person as much privacy as possible. If the person is safe alone for a while and is able to bathe without help, shut the door or close a curtain and step out of the bathroom. But stay close in case they ask for help.
If the person you're caring for has dementia, they may not remember how to take a shower. Some people are afraid of the water or don't like how it feels. A removable hand-held shower head with a long hose may help the person feel more comfortable and in control of where the water is directed. If the person doesn't want to get under the water, don't force them. Encourage them to have a sink bath instead.
When you help someone take a shower, start by gathering materials. You will need:
Offer the person a robe for comfort and privacy while you set up the shower supplies. A terry cloth robe works well because it can be worn after the shower to help the person dry off. Set up the shower chair or bench. Help the person onto the chair if they need help.
Let the person take off the robe, but give help if they need it. Remember to use the back of your hand to test the water to make sure it's not too hot or cold.
You don't have to wear gloves, but it might be a good idea if the person has been vomiting or has had diarrhea. And it's a good idea to wear a mask if you or the person has an illness that can spread, such as a cold or influenza (flu).
When you help someone bathe, remember to check their skin as you go for signs of rashes or sores. Pay special attention to areas with creases, such as under the breasts or the folds on the stomach. Also, look at bony areas, like the elbows and shoulders. If you see any redness, do not rub or massage the red areas. It could cause more tissue damage.
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Current as of: March 27, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Gayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered Nurse & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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