It will be different if you are dealing with someone with Dementia. The person who does not have Dementia already realizes what is going to happen. In that case, what you say AND how you go about your duties will make or break the situation. If the person has Dementia, both tell them, and illustrate with body motions, what you are about to do.
First, gather all of your supplies. There's nothing worse than looking like a novice (even if you are one!) by getting all ready to do and finding out you forgot the shampoo.
- Three washcloths. One for you to use on their face, back, etc. One for them to use on their front and as much of their body as they can/will reach. One for you or them to use on their private area.
- Three towels. I use three - you may think that's a bit much. I put two full size bath towels and one hand towel into the dryer for 30 minutes during the shower. The hand towel is for their head/hair. One bath towel is for their back, and one for their front. On a particularly cold day, I've used three bath towels, and wrapped my client's legs in the third one. She loved this, by the way.
- Two extra hand towels
- Body wash or soap
- Conditioner, if using
- Lotion or cream
Uncovering a little area at a time, apply skin lotion or cream. During the entire process you are checking the skin for breakdown, unusual bruising, cuts, etc. Apply any prescribed skin medications at this time. I leave the client on the shower bench and dress their top half, with the bottom half covered in the warm towel. I also brush/comb the hair at this time, after dressing their top half. This method is the most dignified, and does not leave them feeling exposed or vulnerable.
We'll talk about how often the elderly should shower in another post.