For Caregivers, bathing and/or personal hygiene time can be emotionally and physically exhausting. The physical act of providing care (in general) is strenuous because it requires lifting and transferring a Client with or even using mechanical lifts. It can also be psychologically strenuous. Some clients can even become embarrassed and disheartened because another person has to give them a bath and/or dress them. Most of the elderly consider bathing/personal hygiene something that is highly private.

There are 5 methods for bathing:

  • Shower – Most ambulatory clients are capable of taking a shower. Clients with physical limitations can use a waterproof chair in the shower. The PCA may provide some assistance with the shower.
  • Tub Bath – Some clients may prefer to enjoy a tub bath. Tub baths can also be therapeutic. Clients with physical limitations will be assisted by the PCA when entering and exiting the tub. The PCA will also test the bath tub water to ensure that the temperature is safe before allowing the client to enter.
  • Self Help – Some clients are confined to a bed and this type of bath provides the hygienic care needed. The PCA prepares the bath equipment and assists in washing difficult to reach areas. Areas such as the back, legs, feet, external genitalia.
  • Complete Bed Bath – The PCA assists the clients, who are confined to bed, with an entire body wash.
  • Partial Bath– The PCA assists with cleansing only those body areas that would cause discomfort or odor. These areas are the face, hands, and genital area.

*At no time during any of these baths does the Caregiver/PCA leave the Client alone

Here are some helpful idea’s that may help: 

  • When it is time for bathing, try to create a peaceful environment. Playing some easy listening music that will help calm them during what they may feel is a stressful time. Whatever music they may like will help to distract and soothe them.
  • To help minimize embarrassment, keep the conversation natural and relaxed. Talk about plans for the day, or maybe something they or you saw on TV. Maintaining a casual atmosphere can help to redirect their attention away from the embarrassment and sadness they may be feeling at their circumstances.
  •  Have their towel and clothing ready to put on immediately when they come out of the tub or shower. That will help protect their modesty and prevent them from becoming cold.
  • Let them know what you’re doing.   Talk about what you are doing along the way. Let them know you are trying to help them. Keep offering support and encouragement.
  • Remember that they may be reluctant to bathe/shower.  Try timing it around someone coming to visit, or around the person going out. Maybe try a sponge bath, try uncovering only the part of the body being washed, for greater privacy.
  • Finally, remember not to be too hard on yourself or your Client. This is a difficult situation for both of you. Try to keep a positive attitude, to be patient and to maintain your sense of humor. It will likely help your Client do the same.
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