Washing and bathing

4. Safety precautions

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.