Alzheimer’s disease – Understanding and Dealing with Personal Hygiene Issues

Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects more of a person’s life as it progresses.  It does more than just make them forgetful of events and names; it affects their ability to remember how to do their daily tasks, such as eating and getting dressed.  It can become difficult for the person with Alzheimer’s to handle their own basic personal care.

Depression is a behavior condition associated with Alzheimer’s and can cause the person to lose interest in their appearance.  This may be helped with medication so it is best to consult with a doctor if your loved one is having problems with their personal hygiene.

Here is a list of personal care issues that you may experience with your family member who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and how you can help them.

Bathing

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease may lose interest in bathing and the ability to know how to be clean.  At first, they will need reminders to take a shower and then clear directions on how to bath.  Later, they will need to be assisted or for caregivers to do the bathing for them.

As the caregiver, you may need to assist them by preparing their bath and laying out towels and other personal care items.  Expect them to be embarrassed since bathing is a private activity.  Reassure them and only provide as much help as needed.  If you have to assist with the bathing try to keep private areas that you are not bathing covered.

Select a time for bathing when the family member is less confused.  Reassure them and speak in a calm voice.  Soft background music may also be comforting.  If you are providing directions, only give them one simple step at a time.  Allow them to take their time rather than hurrying them through the task.

Homecare services can send in personal care aides to help with bathing; sometimes this is less embarrassing for the senior than to take a shower with their son or daughter’s assistance.  They may also have more time to spend with this activity than a busy adult child who is trying to manage everything.

Dressing

You may find that a person with Alzheimer’s will not want to change their clothes and wear the same outfit for several days in a row.  As the disease progresses, they will forget how to dress and may put their underclothes on top of their outerwear.  At some point, they may struggle with knowing what to do with a certain piece of clothing, which means you will have to provide verbal cues or assist.

You can limit their choices to only two outfits to make it easier for them to choose.  This still allows them to have some control over their appearance.  You will also want to look for clothing that is easy to put on or take off.  Pullover shirts instead of those with buttons will be easier to manipulate.  You can also remove dirty clothing after they have changed into their nightwear so they do not wear the same thing the next day.

If you are working a full-time job and trying to be a caregiver, you may not have the time to spend helping your family member get dressed every morning.  Homecare services can provide assistance with dressing, from simple reminders and laying out the clothes to actually dressing them when they are unable to.

Toileting

Incontinence is an issue with many people as they age.  It becomes an even bigger situation to deal with for people with Alzheimer’s disease.  They may have trouble knowing how to clean up or change their clothing.  Incontinence can be caused by medication, stress, or other medical conditions so it is important that the family caregiver alerts the doctor to the situation to rule out any medical causes.

You can provide the incontinent senior with options to prevent soiling their clothing.  They can wear special undergarments meant to absorb wetness and prevent odor.  This will keep the senior from being embarrassed.  Many homecare agencies will help remind the senior to use the bathroom more frequently or assist in changing them when they need new clothing.

While it is important to try to maintain a routine for the person with Alzheimer’s, you may have to make adjustments if it is easier on them and you.  For instance, you may not need to have them shower every day and limit it to every other day.  You may also switch some of those showers to sponge baths to lessen the amount of time involved.

If you need assistance with personal care tasks for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s, our team at Carefect Homecare Services can provide the help you require.  Our staff is trained to deal with the special needs that a person with one of the types of dementia may face.  We can assist with bathing, dressing, and toileting issues so that you can spend more quality time with your family member.

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