Caring for the Incontinent
Every caregiving situation is unique and every individual has different care needs. Providing sensitive assistance gives your loved one their sense of self, which is so important for maintaining self esteem.
Bathing & Showering
You probably need some special training to safely bath someone else. Ask your doctor or a physical therapist for specific instructions or a demonstration.
Once you have been properly trained, the following ideas may be helpful in making bath time easier for both of you.
- Gather soap, shampoo, washcloths, towels, clean clothing and anything else you will need before the bath. Place those things within your reach.
- Keep a portable phone in the bathroom with you in case of an emergency.
- Never let the person you care for take a bath without your assistance. They may slip and fall getting in or out of the tub or scald themselves with water that is too hot. It only takes a split second for a tragic accident to occur.
- A comfortable water temperature is 38 degrees Celsius. You may want to lower the temperature on your water heater to 49 degrees Celsius or less to avoid accidental burns.
- Prevent skidding and falling by positioning slip resistant mats inside and outside the tub.
- Install grab bars in the tub area for you and your loved one to hold on to while bathing and when getting in and out of the tub.
- Wear rubber-soled shoes for better traction on the damp floor when helping the person you care for.
- Make sure the bathroom is well-lit. Good lighting can help you and your loved one see items left on the floor and help avoid tripping and falling or bumping into unseen objects.
- Install a transfer bench or shower/bath chair for moving your loved one into and out of the bathtub more easily. You can purchase them at a medical supply store or in some pharmacies with a medical equipment section. Your doctor or a physical therapist can give you instructions on how to use them correctly and safely.
- Many caregivers prefer using disposable bathing cloths instead of giving conventional baths, showers or bed baths. Disposable bathing cloths are large, thick wet wipes that are pre-moistened with a gentle, no-rinse cleansing formula. They’re ideal for quick touch-up baths, or to avoid the difficulties and potential safety hazards of getting in or out of a tub or shower. Some come in a pouch which can be warmed in a microwave for extra comfort.
Shaving & Shampooing
Check with local barbershops or hairdressers to see if a barber or beautician will come to your home to shampoo, trim or style hair. If your loved one is able to travel, an appointment at the hair dresser might provide a nice change of pace and an enjoyable time for both of you to get out and socialise with others.
If you are shampooing or shaving the person you care for on your own, try these tips:
- To remove hair snarls before you shampoo, gently comb cream rinse through the hair.
- Use dry shampoos for people who are unable to get out of bed. Some home medical equipment stores and pharmacies carry shampoo kits designed for people confined to bed or in wheelchairs. Hairwashing trays and inflatable basins are also available which allow the user to stay in a wheelchair or bed while the hair is being washed.
- Use an electric razor to reduce the risk of cuts and make shaving easier for both of you.
- It’s a fact that when people look good they feel better. A fresh shampoo, hairstyle or shave can really brighten a person’s day and lift their spirits.