Bed bathing is a great way to ensure a bed bound individual stays clean and healthy. The thought of a bed bath may conjure images of sopping sheets and soapy bowls. But, bed bath time can be an elegant service more like a massage than a shower.
Pro bed bathers know that bed bath time is often the most interactive time for an individual who is no longer able to get up. Your loved one may not look forward to bathing time now, but with a few expert tricks, bath time can become a favorite activity for you both.
Get Your Loved One Comfortable
A bad bed bath feels like a hurried, jostled assault on the frazzled senses of your loved one. Some people have physical issues that make bathing extremely difficult and painful. It is important to cultivate a slower, attentive bathing experience. Everyone is different, so work with your loved one to find a comfortable position.
Prepare your space. Take inventory of what you need and gather your supplies before you involve your loved one. Make sure the room is comfortable and reduce distracting sights and sounds. Regularly check in with your loved one to make sure she is still comfortable.
Every movie shower scene starts with a person starting the hot water to get the right temp and make the room inviting and comfortable. The same rules apply for bed baths. Increase the temperature in a chilly room. Remember how quickly damp skin feels cold. Elderly and ill people are more susceptible to changes in temperature, so take extra care with temperature control.
Remember to keep your loved one covered to maintain comfort. You can use a large beach towel or a special bath time blanket that you wash after the bed bath. Of course, regular towels make good covers and absorb water well. Your loved one might appreciate a quick tumble in the dryer to add warmth and loftiness.
Remember, people who are bed bound may have fragile skin, and difficulty healing. Bed bound individuals are also more likely to have communication limitations, so practice mindfulness when it comes to heat and comfort.
Check the temperature of any products and water you use. Cold water on warm sensitive body parts is shocking and unpleasant. Water cools quickly and may feel colder to your loved one than you realize.
Using the Right Products
There are several lines of products created specifically for bed bathing. Hospice companies may supply personal care supplies made for bed bathing. And, you can find products via Amazon or at your local drug store.
Some of the most helpful products are no rise personal care products. You can find no rinse shampoo caps. These fantastic tools heat in the microwave and fit over your loved one’s hair. You simply massage the scalp through the cap and wipe away the residue for a waterless shampoo.
You can also find disposable body wipes. A wipe warmer comes in handy to keep wipe temperatures comfortable.
Good Drying Techniques
A great bed bath is often determined by the quality of your drying. If you have ever tried to pull a pair of pants up over your damp skin, you know the sensation is unpleasant and difficult. Areas that are left warm and damp are susceptible to irritation. You want to protect your loved one from an itchy damp skin, and practice careful drying. Here are tips to make you a drying pro:
- Use a dry towel, and replace often
- Be gentle – dab, don’t rub
- Be thorough – dry under skin folds and between toes, look for damp skin
- Make sure hair is dry before removing protective layers
Assess the Body and Clean Thoroughly
Bath time is the perfect time to evaluate the health of your loved one’s skin. People who are bed bound are especially prone to skin break down, rashes, and swelling. Pressure sores develop from long term pressure. They often appear as areas of discoloration and will turn into open ulcers if not address.
If you notice areas of discoloration, work with your loved one to find positions that avoid the area. Skin cleanliness and care play a role in bed sore prevention. Common sore areas are on the butt area, back of arms, and heals.
Check feet and toes for swelling and toenail growth. Foot care is regular maintenance. Make note of swelling and changes in body appearance, and pay attention to small areas like armpits, behind ears, and eye areas. When you are washing your loved one start from her head and work your way down. Thoroughly clean every area and then recover body part with towels or blankets.
You have the opportunity to luxuriate over your loved one during bath time. Prepare for bath time by collecting your supplies and ensuring your loved one’s comfort.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of your loved one. If you were receiving the bed bath, what kind of treatment would you want? Would you feel comfortable with the temperature and techniques? Sometimes care responsibilities feel like check-list tasks. Try to look at bed bath time as a bonding gift for you both.