Bathing Alzheimer’s Patients: Practical Tips for Families & Caregivers

Bathing Alzheimer’s patients is a challenge for their family and caregivers because they are more likely to resist receiving assistance. They may even be afraid to step into the water. There are several reasons why a person with Alzheimer’s disease becomes resistant to bathing as the disease progresses. Understanding the underlying causes makes the patient’s family and caregivers better able to deal with this issue and help him/her stay clean and comfortable.

Caregivers at our center have considerable experience in caring for Alzheimer’s patients. Based on years of experience in nursing patients with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, we will provide tips that will help you better accompany the patient.


How often should a patient with Alzheimer’s bath?

The answer to this question depends on your definition of cleanliness. For example, in some parts of the United States, older people in their 70s or 80s may believe in weekly baths because they often lived on remote farms and probably think the water is too precious to waste.

Therefore, weekly bathing may be sufficient if the patient does not have problems such as incontinence or skin issues. But in some cases, frequent bathing Alzheimer’s patients is necessary to prevent dangerous infections.

To determine the frequency of showering, you must be realistic and consider the well-being of the patient. You can even consult a primary care physician in this regard.

Each patient is unique. By taking some trial and error, you can understand why they do not want to take a bath, as well as, what you can do to make the bathing process as comfortable as possible for them.

Let the patient feel comfortable.

  • Motivate the patient. Motivate the senior if he does not want to take a bath because he thinks he has already done or does not see the need to take a bath. For example, say, “let’s take a bath, then we will go to the cinema. You can consider any activity that the elderly enjoy doing as an incentive.
  • Give the senior choices. For example, ask her if she wants to take a bath now or in 15 minutes.
  • Let the patient feel safe. If the patient sees bathing as a threat, try to understand him. So choose another time to take a bath.
  • Do not forget to talk. Talk to the patient while bathing, even if they do not understand what you are saying. Talking calms them down. Also, explain to the patient what you want to do before each step. For example, say ”now I want to clean your face with this warm cloth, are you ready?”.  Also, if the patient is able, you can assign him simple tasks such as holding a shampoo container.
  • Prepare yourself for agitated behaviors. For example, you can play soothing music or sing together.
  • Always protect the person’s privacy. Cover the patient with a towel while undressing. This helps them stay warmer and feel much less exposed. It is better for a same-sex and familiar person to help the patient take a bath. Otherwise, you can hire someone from the home care company to bathe the patient. Because in some cases, they are embarrassed that someone familiar helps them in the bath.


Prepare the bathroom in advance.

Early in the illness, the patient only needs a reminder to take a bath. As the disease progresses, the patient will probably need more help. You should make the bathroom environment as comfortable and safe as possible:

  • Make sure towels, shampoo, soap, and items such as bath bench are ready.
  • Place shampoo and soap within reach.
  • The room temperature should be pleasant. Also, check the water temperature because the patient may not perceive the water being too hot or resist bathing if the water is too cool.
  • Try to use hotel-sized plastic shampoo containers.
  • Try to provide supervision, especially if your patient is unsteady.


During bathing

  • Try bathing at the same time of day the senior is used to.
  • If the patient is more comfortable, you can use a bath chair with adjustable height so that the patient can sit while taking a shower.
  • The genital area, under the breasts, and skin folds should be thoroughly washed, especially in patients with incontinence.
  • Try to simplify the bathing process as much as possible.
  • A full daily bath is not required. Take care of the areas that need more attention on a daily basis. You can apply a wet wipe under the arms daily. Using a peri bottle after toileting can help the elderly stay clean and fresh between full baths.


Bathing Alzheimer’s patients: Tips for after bathing

  • Check the patient’s skin for rashes and sores, especially if your patient has incontinence or is immobile.
  • Use a lotion to keep the patient’s skin soft.
  • Use talcum powder or cornstarch under the breasts and skin folds.
  • Be sure to sit the patient while drying and putting on clothes.
  • Use cotton swabs to dry between the patient’s toes.


Let’s sum up

Bathing Alzheimer’s patients on a daily basis is not necessary. Never try to adhere your patient to the standard of cleanliness you have. No matter what others may think about your patient’s cleanliness and tidiness. It is true that taking a shower every day gives you a feeling of freshness, but for Alzheimer’s patients, it can be torture.

So try to maintain a minimum level of hygiene for your patient. In this case, you can benefit from the professional help of experienced caregivers at our center. Therefore if you live in Las Vegas and need advice to keep your loved one safe at home, contact us right now.


  1. Joe says:

    I thought it would be impossible for me to deal with my grandmother but now I have useful information

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