How do I bathe a dementia patient who is becoming increasingly aggressive?

Brenda-cape may nj asked...

Although your bathing suggestions have worked for me in te past I still have to fight with my husband to bathe. He is getting a little more agressive and afraid he will hit me. Home health care is not an option at this time. What can I do to stop the fighting each time? He says he already showered.

Expert Answer

Jytte Lokvig, PhD, coaches families and professional caregivers and designs life-enrichment programs and activities for patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. Her workshops and seminars help caregivers and families create a healthy environment based on dignity and humor. She is the author of Alzheimer's A to Z: A Quick-Reference Guide.

If you haven't tried this already, pretend you have promised to give him shower that particular day: "Hi sweetheart, I promised to help you with your shower today. Is now a good time or do you want to eat lunch first?" - or some variation of that.

He may have reached a point when this no longer works. In that case you may have to switch to a sponge-bath, which works as effectively as a full shower in actually getting a person clean. Remember it's okay to get really creative. You don't have to bathe all of him all at once; you can spread it out over a couple of days. You can give him a sponge bath in "steps" "“ torso at one point, feet and legs at another time and middle-section while you're helping him with his brief. And you can give him this sponge bath wherever it seems least disturbing to him: in the kitchen, the living room or even in the garden, if you have privacy. If this still doesn't help you, you can go to "no-rinse" cloths and shampoo.