Safety precautions and aids when washing and bathing

Find out how to keep people with dementia safe while bathing, and how equipment and aids can help.

Washing and bathing
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There are some very practical considerations when someone with dementia is using the bathroom. There is the potential for them to be scalded if water is too hot, to slip on the floor, to get locked in, or for the carer to strain their back.

Ensuring safe bathing: tips for carers

  • Check that the floor is not slippery. Think about using non-slip mats if necessary.
  • Make sure that the room is warm before the person undresses. Older people are more sensitive to heat and cold than younger people.
  • Make sure that any blinds or curtains are closed and that no one else is likely to walk into the bathroom.
  • Ensure you will not be disturbed or distracted and will not have to leave the person alone.
  • Check that the water temperature is not too hot or too cold. You can buy a heat sensor that sticks to the side of the bath and changes colour if the bath water is too hot, which can prevent scalding.
  • You may need to remove locks from the bathroom door, or replace them with locks that can be opened from the outside. Someone with dementia may lock themselves in and panic, or they may go into the bathroom and then forget why they went in.
  • Don't leave cleaning products where the person with dementia might get to them. The person may not be able to recognise them and may not understand the dangers they present.
  • Don't forget your own safety. If you have to help the person get into the bath, make sure you don't strain your back. If this is becoming a problem, talk to an occupational therapist about equipment that can help you.

Aids and equipment for washing and bathing

If washing is becoming difficult, you might find it useful to install some equipment, such as bars and handrails. This equipment can help the person feel more independent and more in control of their situation, and can also make washing and bathing easier and safer. Information about this sort of equipment is available from an occupational therapist, who you can contact through social services, the GP or district nurse. The service is free of charge.

An occupational therapist may suggest some of the following pieces of equipment:

  • grab rails to help with getting in and out of the bath
  • handrails, which can be attached to the wall near the shower, washbasin or toilet
  • non-slip mats for the bath or shower
  • seats to go in the bath or shower
  • raised toilet seats or commodes.

Involve the person with dementia as much as possible in decisions about any changes that need to be made to the bathroom.

Buy washing and bathing aids

Find a range of washing and bathing aids at the Alzheimer's Society online shop.

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