Put a little warm water in the sink. Soap up a wet face cloth first, wash head ,face and neck; rinse the cloth and use clear water to rinse. Empty the sink and add a little more warm water and soap up and wash upper body, arms chest and back, rinse. Continue with a little more clean water until you are all clean.
At a minimum, bathing once or twice a week helps most seniors avoid skin breakdown and infections. Using warm washcloths to wipe armpits, groin, genitals, feet, and any skin folds also helps minimize body odor in between full baths. However, some dementia caregivers say it’s actually easier to bathe every day.
So, Is a sponge bath enough ? It can be enough if you have the right help and the caregiver is diligent about the process. Make sure that all of the genital areas are well cleaned and dried off. Ideally, you would want to get someone into a bath / shower at least a couple of times a week.
With the aging process comes a weakening of the senses, especially one’s sense of smell. Many seniors begin showering and changing less frequently because it is harder for them to notice the tell-tale scent of body odor or see stains on their clothing that indicate it’s time for a wash -up and a load of laundry.
Sponge bathing is most often used (you can use a sponge or a washcloth). Fill two basins, one with warm soapy water for washing and one with plain warm water for rinsing. Use a new washcloth for different areas. Remove clothes, wash and dry the area, and re-dress in sections to prevent your parent from getting cold.
Using baby wipes , start by wiping down the three important areas, making sure to use a new wipe for each body part. You can use extra wipes to clean off the rest of your body, including your neck and chest. The baby powder will leave a soft scent and will absorb any extra oils.
Or the person may prefer a partial bath at the sink or with a basin every day. A person who can’t move well or who can’t move at all needs a bed bath . This is often called a sponge bath , but washcloths are often used too. You can give a full bath in bed without getting the bed sheets wet.
“It’s best to just wash with our hands,” suggests Erum Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD. “Loofahs have been well-documented reservoirs of bacteria. If you couple the fact that the bacteria are trapped in the fibers of the loofah and that these sponges are used to exfoliate the skin, the risk of infection is much higher.
People with dementia may become resistant to bathing . Such behavior often occurs because the person doesn’t remember what bathing is for or doesn’t have the patience to endure lack of modesty, being cold or other discomforts. Loss of independence and privacy can be very difficult for the person with dementia.
Use a small amount of shampoo to wash their hair – using too much will make it difficult to rinse out. Scoop warm water to rinse hair completely. If hair is very dirty, shampoo and rinse again. When hair is clean, gently remove your senior’s head from the basin.
[NH Regs Plus Comment: In our nursing home research, we found that most nursing homes schedule baths weekly, and a few schedule them twice a week. Relatively few States require a weekly bath and only two required baths twice a week.]
US. : a bath in which someone or something is not placed in water but is cleaned with a wet, soapy sponge or cloth.
3. Make a bath mitt with the washcloth (Figure 13-12 ■). A bath mitt retains water and heat better than a cloth loosely held.