Chapter 1: Personal hygiene

Help with bathing

It was a bit of a delicate situation, but we found a system that allowed me to help but left her dignity intact. She wore her under clothes while I helped her get seated in the shower and got her water right.

Most people find bathing or showering refreshing. However, tub baths and even showers may become more difficult as illness progresses. Be sure to ask the person who is ill for their permission before you begin. They may prefer a professional because bath care is more intimate. Click on the headings below here for some ideas for making bathing comfortable and safe.

Buy or rent equipment, such as grab bars, that will help make moving in and out of the bathtub or shower stall safer.

Consider a bath chair, as it may help people who cannot lower themselves into the bath or stand long enough for a shower.

If the person can get into a bath, make sure the water is not too warm. Very warm water can make the person feel sleepy and weaker, making it more difficult to get out of the tub.

Soap tends to dry the skin. Choose a soap that is gentle and use a small amount. A wet, warm washcloth is usually all that is necessary to clean the face.

A full bath is not necessary every day, but washing the face, underarms, hands, genital area, and back daily makes the person feel fresher. 

Watch the video for a demonstration and tips on giving a bed bath.

Personal Hygiene - Giving a Bed Bath from Canadian Virtual Hospice on Vimeo.