The concept of independence is one that most people value highly. People begin to develop the sense of autonomy and being able to control their own lives extremely early in life. This need for independence and desire for autonomy does not go away with age. In fact, many elderly adults feel even stronger about their independence as they get older and begin to experience challenges and limitations that lessen their real or perceived level of independence. As a family caregiver, you can help your aging loved one maintain the highest level of mental and emotional health and well-being, and the quality of life that they desire and deserve, by finding ways to support independence in their daily life. One time when this can be particularly important is bathing.
Some ways that you can encourage independence while helping your senior bathe include:
- Encourage your senior to choose their clothing or pajamas that they will change into after they bathe.
- Label the handles so that your parent can confidently turn on the water without risk of scalding.
- Laminate a list of instructions for how to bathe effectively and post it on the wall just outside of the shower as a reminder for a senior who might be dealing with cognitive functioning decline.
- Stay in the room with your parents while they bathe or shower and provide step-by-step instructions for how to go through the bathing process.
- Divide each step of the bath or shower into smaller steps so that your parent can do as much as possible on their own. For example, wet a washcloth and put body wash on it, then hand it to your parent and instruct them to wash a part of their body, then instruct them to rinse.
- Consider having your parents conventional bathtub replaced with a walk-in model that features a door through which your parent can walk rather than needing to step into the bath.
- Provide tools that your parent can use to simplify the bathing process, such as a long-handled sponge or a mat that can be placed on the bottom of the tub and used to wash their feet without the need to lift their feet off of the floor.
If you have been considering ways to enhance your aging parent’s quality of life, support a more fulfilling lifestyle, and help them to remain as healthy as possible throughout their later years, now may be the ideal time for you to start elder care for them. An elderly home care services provider can create a highly personalized set of services tailored towards your parents individual needs, challenges, and limitations. Through these services the care provider will help your parent manage their needs in the way that is right for them while also supporting a lifestyle that is as independent and fulfilling as possible. This means that your parent can stay happy, healthy, safe, and comfortable, while also remaining compliant with their medications and other guidelines from their doctor, keep their mind stimulated and healthy, and engage with the world around them as much as possible. As their family caregiver this can give you tremendous peace of mind knowing that your parents are in the best hands both when you are with them and when you are not.