3. AFTER THE SHOWER
Place a floor mat down and ensure the person stands on the mat for safety. I usually place the mat on the floor under the heat lamps if possible, as it is nice and warm.
Pass the open towel to the person and allow them to start drying themselves if capable.You may want to place it over the person’s shoulders as well. It all depends on the individual and their own personal routines. It is great if they can dry themselves as much as possible.
Go over the person’s entire body with a towel even if they have already dried themselves. This will ensure the person is as dry as they can be. It is important to dry them quickly in this case as they may argue that they have already dried themselves. It is all about being subtle and discreet.
I mop up any wet areas of the floor asap to reduce the chance of a fall. I may use towels or a mop if handy. I tend to do this task when the person may be drying themselves so it does not appear that I am ‘over caring’ for them. I believe they need to feel like they have washed and dressed themselves with only some minor assistance from the carer.
Be aware that spray deodorants may annoy people and they may prefer a roll on deodorant (if anything at all). If you are going to spray the person you to need to prepare them by telling them what you are about to do first.
Keep praising and remain positive at all times. If something goes wrong it is best to apologize and take the blame for it EVERYTIME. This will diffuse any frustrations for the person with dementia.
I like to dress the person outside the bathroom as the clothes are more likely to stay dry and it is a safer environment to do so. I will close the blinds/curtains and any doors for their modesty.
Dressing the person can be a stressful time also. Observing body language can really help by watching what frustrates the person when dressing them and establishing routines to make things easier.
Always ensure clothes are not inside out before putting on the person. If you have to take the garment off and on several times it can really irritate a person with dementia.
When placing pull-ups or pants on I tap the wall, get the person to hold the wall or rail (to steady themselves) then assist as required. Buttons on shirts are a flashpoint for frustration. Do not get concerned if the buttons are done up wrongly, you can adjust later if required.
When placing a shirt on the person I run their arm up one sleeve of the shirt and then quickly hold open the other sleeve from behind to ensure a fast and smooth action. I aim to make this ‘hotspot’ procedure as seamless as possible. I usually let the person try and do their own buttons up to empower them. Who cares if the buttons are not quite right? I may adjust them later depending on the person’s mood.
The key to dressing someone is to be ahead of the game and anticipate any frustration areas and practice your techniques. Everyone is different so there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution to the best way to dress a person with dementia. As the disease progresses you also need to adapt to the person’s nuances and habits as they are ever changing.
I always ask the person first if they want to perform an action eg ‘put their shirt on’ before doing it for them. I believe it is really important to empower them and retain their dignity as much as possible. If the person does not react or respond, I will then perform the action but do so in a way that they are actively involved in the process. This way they feel they have dressed themselves and not treated like a baby.