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Making Communication and Bathing Easier

Caregiving for Alzheimer's Patients: Communication

Trying to communicate with a person who has Alzheimer's disease can be a challenge. Both understanding and being understood may be difficult. Tips that may help caregivers communicate with Alzheimer's patients include:
 
  • Choose simple words and short sentences and use a gentle, calm tone of voice.
 
  • Avoid talking to the person with Alzheimer's disease like a baby or talking about the person as if he or she isn't there.
 
  • Minimize distractions and noise -- such as the television or radio -- to help the person focus on what you are saying.
 
  • Call the person by name, making sure you have his or her attention before speaking.
 
  • Allow enough time for a response. Be careful not to interrupt.
 
  • If the person with Alzheimer's disease is struggling to find a word or communicate a thought, gently try to provide the word he or she is looking for.
 
  • Try to frame questions and instructions in a positive way.
 

Caregiving for Alzheimer's Patients: Bathing

While some people with Alzheimer's disease don't mind bathing, for others it is a frightening, confusing experience. Advance planning can help make bath time better for both of you. Tips for caregivers include:
 
  • Plan the bath or shower for the time of day when the person is most calm and agreeable. Be consistent. Try to develop a routine.
 
  • Respect the fact that bathing is scary and uncomfortable for some people with Alzheimer's disease. Be gentle and respectful. Be patient and calm.
 
  • Tell the person what you are going to do, step by step, and allow him or her to do as much as possible.
 
  • Prepare in advance. Make sure you have everything you need ready and in the bathroom before beginning. Draw the bath ahead of time.
 
  • Be sensitive to the temperature. Warm up the room beforehand if necessary and keep extra towels and a robe nearby. Test the water temperature before beginning the bath or shower.
 
  • Minimize safety risks by using a handheld showerhead, shower bench, grab bars, and nonskid bath mats. Never leave the person alone in the bath or shower.
 
  • Try a sponge bath. Bathing may not be necessary every day. A sponge bath can be effective between showers or baths.
 
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