How Often Should Older Adults Bathe?

When it comes to how often older adults should take a bath, less may be more.

Sinking into a warm, soothing, bubble bath at the end of a stress-filled day and stepping into a hot, invigorating shower first thing in the morning are daily pleasures for a lot of us. But it really is possible to have too much of a good thing with regards to bathing habits for seniors. You might want to rethink that daily shower or bath for seniors for a number of reasons:

  • An increased risk of falls on slippery floors
  • Thinner skin that could lead to easier bruising and other injuries
  • Fatigue
  • The risk of skin infections from dry, cracked skin
  • Mobility issues
  • And more

How Often Should Older Adults Take a Bath?

Once or twice weekly is adequate to maintain personal hygiene for older adults. In between, a warm washcloth can be used to clean areas that require additional attention. This is particularly essential for seniors who wear products to manage incontinence.

Special Considerations for Alzheimer’s

One exception to take into consideration is a senior with Alzheimer’s disease. Because routine is so important when cognitive issues are a factor, a regular shower or bath can be a source of comfort. If a loved one with Alzheimer’s is fearful or otherwise resists personal hygiene, try the following recommendations:

  • Focus on comfort. Keep the bathroom warm. Turn on music they enjoy. Have lots of big, fluffy towels readily available. Use shampoo and soap or body wash in a calming, soothing scent.
  • Talk through each step. Explain what is going to happen in simple terms and in a soothing tone of voice prior to each part of the bathing process.
  • Promote independence. Empower the person to remain in control of the bathing process whenever you can. Encourage them to participate based on their ability level, regardless of whether that means just holding onto the shampoo bottle or washcloth.
  • Relieve fears. The loud, pounding sound of a shower or bathwater running is terrifying for many seniors with dementia. A handheld shower set at a minimal level is quieter and enables the person to see where the water is originating from.
  • Establish a positive association. Incorporate an especially enjoyable activity at the conclusion of the bath-time routine. For instance, provide a favorite snack that is only served after bathing so it creates a positive connection.

Frequently, seniors feel most comfortable having assistance with personal hygiene needs from a professional caregiver. Serenity Home Care’s care team is fully experienced and trained in providing support for safe, comfortable showers or baths. Our focus is always on affirming dignity and respect and addressing any specific fears or concerns with skill and empathy. Reach out to us at 250.590.8098 for additional information.