FlowersChallenging Behaviors for the Caregiver

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By Elisabeth A Hinman-Smith M.S.W. & Lisa P. Gwyther M.S.W.

"Mother just refuses to take a bath now. . .it's such a struggle to keep her clean. She was always very meticulous about how she looked before and now it's a fight to get her in the tub."

* Try to follow as many of the person's old routines as possible (morning vs evening: bath vs shower)

* Simplify tasks and try to do one step at a time. (e.g. run water, towels ready, undress, etc.)

* Allow as much independence as possible. Remember to respect the patient's privacy and sense of dignity.

* Try to be as calm and gentle as possible. Try not to rush or force the person through the task. Talk them through, if needed.

* Adjust your expectations. A bath may not be necessary every day, though it is important to keep the person clean. If the person is incontinent, it will be especially important to keep the genital and buttocks area clean to promote good health.

* Be flexible and creative. A spongebath can serve the same purpose as a bath or shower, but may be more acceptable to the person, because they can remain partially covered.

* Work toward a safe and inviting environment - be sure the room is warm, that the water is a comfortable temperature, and that the tub is equipped with a non-slick surface and a grab bar. Do not leave hair dryers or razors within reach of a confused person.

(c) copyright 1996


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