Bathing an elderly parent is not only challenging, at times it can be quite dangerous. Countless seniors and family caregivers are injured in bathroom accidents every year, with many of those injuries resulting in emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
Slippery surfaces, sharp corners and tight spaces create an insidious recipe for cuts, bruises and broken bones. If your parent is overweight, suffers from cognitive impairment, or has trouble moving around, bath time can be even more treacherous. To help keep you both safer, try these bathing tips from the pros.
General Bathroom Safety Tips
If your mom or dad is still ambulatory, getting them to the bathroom and into the tub or shower will be much easier. But you’ll still need to create an overall safer bathroom environment by taking these precautions:
Create Clear Pathways
Remove throw rugs and other objects at floor level that are potential trip hazards. If your parent uses a walker and the bathroom space is too tight, find ways to eliminate obstacles.
Install Grab Bars
Avoid using towel bars, soap dishes or toilet paper holders to support your loved one’s weight while helping them in and out of the tub. Instead, purchase some high-quality grab bars from your local durable medical equipment store and install those on the wall in or around the shower or tub. Find a spot for the grab bar(s) that will deliver the most functionality when bathing an elderly parent, and always anchor the grab bars securely into wall studs.
Never use a shower door to hold on to or support your parent’s weight, as they can easily come off their tracks. Glass shower doors should be totally removed, and if you have the funds consider installing a walk-in shower for ease-of-use.
The skin of an elderly person is delicate, which means water over 120 degrees Fahrenheit can scald them. If they like baths, to prevent burns check the water temperature first with a thermometer. If showering is more their preference, consider installing an anti-scalding device on the controls, or adjust the temperature on their hot water heater, so that they can more safely do either one.
If your parent has dementia they can get confused during bath time, or become frightened or agitated by sudden movements. Use a reassuring voice to explain each step in the bathing process. For example, say: “Mom, I’m going to wash your back now”, or “Dad, it’s time to get you out of the tub”. Avoid any sudden movements that could startle or agitate your parent.
Placing a trustworthy transfer bench in the bathtub or shower will make it much easier for your parent to get their legs over the side of the tub. And, installing a flexible, hand-held shower wand to use with a transfer bench will make showering a much safer experience for you both.
Wet bathroom tile floors and tub surfaces account for thousands of bathroom accidents each year. Consider applying some non-skid strips or tape in those problematic bathing areas.
Bathing a Bedridden Parent
When your parent can’t take a bath or shower in the bathroom because they’re bedridden, you can still bathe them by using either a sponge bath or bed bath. When employing either of these bathing techniques it’s important to keep your loved one warm by only exposing one body section at a time. This will also help address their modesty concerns, especially when it’s your own mom or dad who used to bathe you when you were a child. You can also keep their mind occupied by talking about their grandchildren or telling them a story.
In-Home Bathing Assistance for Manatee County, FL, Seniors
Bathing an elderly parent can be challenging and time-consuming, especially if you have your own kids to bathe or live too far away. When you need some in-home bathing assistance for your loved one, call First In Care. One of our highly trained and carefully screened aides will safely step in and provide the reliable personal hygiene services your senior deserves to keep them aging comfortably in place right where they want to be.
With an emphasis on improving your senior’s quality of life, dignity and self-esteem, our aides will serve as an extended family in the home while performing duties like light housework, meals, transportation, medication reminders and companionship. Any of our fully licensed services can also be flexibly combined in an affordable package to restore your peace-of-mind. To schedule a FREE in-home care consultation now, or to learn more about First In Care’s home health services for Manatee County, FL, seniors, please visit: www.firstincare.com!