Bathing A Dementia Patient

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Hi there and welcome to our career training series. I’m Autumn and on the team here at myCNAjobs.

We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately on tips to bath a senior that is suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia. So in today’s training session I’m going to share a few best practices that we’ve compiled from others in the industry.

Bathing can be one of the most difficult personal care activities that a caregiver does in their job each day.  Because bathing is so personal, it can be a hard situation for both the caregiver and the patient. I’m hoping to leave you with some new thinking to make things a little easier.

#1 - Be Empathetic
First, it’s important to put yourself in your client’s shoes. Many dementia patients are resistant to bathing as they don’t remember what bathing is for or it just makes them uncomfortable. Loss of independence can be very difficult so it’s important to approach each bath with empathy. If you encounter a senior that is angry and combative, don’t take it personally and approach the situation with kindness.

#2 - Prepare the bath
When possible, allow your client to do as much as they can. Have them help you gather bathing supplies, hang towels, turn the heat to a comfortable temperature, and set the water temperature. The more you can prepare your client and involve them in the process, the more smoothly the process is likely to go.

#3 - Give control to the client
You can provide comfort to your patient by helping them have some control in the process. Ask them things like

  • Do you prefer to take a bath now or in 15 minutes?
  • Do you prefer 4 inches of water or 5?
  • Do you prefer this shampoo or that shampoo?

The more you power you can give to the patient, the more buy in you’ll get in the process making it easier to complete a successful bath.

#4 - Control agitation
If the patient becomes agitated, have music ready to play or a song ready to sing. Talk about a topic that is known to make the patient smile or calm down. These are great things to talk about with the patient’s family. With some memory loss patients, removing the mirrors in the bathroom can be helpful as it makes the experience feel more private.

#5 - Be Gentle & Coach
When possible, have the client wash where they can. Help coach the client on what and where to clean, guiding them through the process. Talk through the areas that you’re going to clean so there are no surprises.  Be gentle in your touch and if the client becomes agitated, stop for a moment to control the agitation before continuing.

#6 - Document Care
After the bath, check for rashes and sores as you help get your client dressed. After helping the senior get comfortable, document the bath including things like how the senior did, concerns you have, and if you found anything unusual. If you’re working for a home care agency, you’ll often have formal documentation to complete after each bath to provide to your employer and the client’s family. After your documentation is complete, go have fun! Bathing can be stressful so try to find an activity that is soothing to your client to help them transition.

Well, that’s it folks. Best of luck and I hope this video was helpful. If you like what you saw here and you’d like to access more caregiver training or you’re looking for a caregiver or CNA job, you can find free resources at or call us to talk to a recruiter directly at 312-275-3959.

Bathing can be one of the most difficult personal care activities that a Caregiver does each day. Because bathing can be so personal, it can be a tough situation for both the Caregiver and the patient. This video will leave you with some new thinking to make things a little easier. We’ll cover tips to make the process easier for both you and your patient during this essential activity of daily living.