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.
Sponge baths can be given to someone who is not able to get out of bed. You will need a washcloth or sponge, lightly soaped water in a bowl or bucket, and a towel.
- Start at the face and work downward, taking care to cover parts of the body that are not being washed with a light sheet or towel.
- Wash the arm and side of the body furthest from you before moving to the arm and side closest to you.
- Follow the same pattern for the lower half of the body.
- Finish washing the patient’s front by washing the genital and anal areas, being sure to change the water and cloth afterwards.
- Help the person to turn to their side, and wash their back. If the person is unable to turn to the side, you may need help from someone else for positioning and support while you wash the person’s back.
People who are not eating and drinking very much will likely have dry skin. Lotions can be very soothing on the skin, so you may want to consider applying after the person’s bath.
- Avoid lotions that are alcohol-based, as they tend to dry the skin.
- Avoid heavily scented lotions and creams. They can be irritating to the skin and make some people nauseated.
- After the bath, you may want to offer a manicure or pedicure. Having cared-for nails sometimes makes a person feel more comfortable.
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.