You just found out you will be giving your loved one bed baths.

But you know nothing about bed baths.

And perhaps this is causing you a bit of anxiety.

I have good news for you-yes giving your first few bed baths will feel awkward. And that’s usually because giving one is brand new.

But once you get a hang of the basics, you might be able to give one in your sleep.

Well, maybe not.

But you get the point.

How to prepare to give a bed bath

There will be some emotion around it

There is always some kind of emotion around something new. If this is the very first time you’ve had to do this, you might feel nervous. Your loved one might be nervous too.

If this is your older parent, they might have feelings of sadness around not being able to take their own bath in a tub for instance.

It’s important to understand the emotions around this new thing so that you can adjust quickly and so you can find ways to help your loved one as well.

Get the supplies you’ll need

If you know ahead of time that you will be giving bed baths, now is a great time to get the supplies you will need.

I recommend storing all of the bed bath items into a small plastic basket/tub and saving it in a place you can access easily. This way, you don’t always have to frantically search for an item you need when it’s bath time.

You will need:

  • 2-3 wash clothes
  • A basin of water
  • Soap/body wash, lotion, deodorant, dry shampoo/regular shampoo
  • 2 large towel or lightweight blanket
  • Clean clothes

Let your loved one know it’s bath time

Right before bath time, let your loved one know that you’ll be giving them a bath.

If they currently have memory problems, it is helpful to mention it a few times before the bed bath actually happens.

You can do this as you gather the items you’ll need to give them a bath.

Protect their dignity

Always protect the dignity of your loved one during a bed bath.

You can do this by announcing in the house that your loved one is receiving a bed bath before it happens.

Make sure to close the door behind you while a bed bath is going on.

Close windows. If it is necessary, you might also want to turn on or increase the heat in the room so they don’t get cold.

Giving the bed bath

  • Wear gloves.
  • Fill the basin with warm water. Place the wash cloth in the warm water.
  • Place a few drops of body wash or rub soap on the wash cloth.
  • Place the towels or light weight blankets on the bed to catch any moisture.
  • Use the soapy wash cloth to wipe your loved one’s body. I like to start with wiping the face before cleaning other parts of the body.
  • Make sure to pay special attention to those parts of the body that are usually folded over such as the armpits and around the groin.
  • Perineal care is important and a bed bath is an excellent time to provide it.
  • After cleaning the part of the body that is not lying on the bed, you will need to turn your loved one over so you can clean the backside of their body. If you need a tutorial on how to turn a person who is bed-bound, watch this video. I highly recommend that you get help to turn them if they are completely immobile or obese.
  • Once you’ve wiped their entire body with the soapy wash cloth, you could change the water and do a second wipe down with just plain water.
  • Place a dry towel around their neck area and use dry shampoo or a small amount of shampoo to help them wash their hair. If you use regular shampoo, use a wet wash cloth wipe out all the shampoo from their hair.
  • Once the bed bath is over, apply lotion, deodorant and perfume (if they like that) to help them smell fresh.
  • Remove all wet clothes, towels etc from the bed and help your loved one put their clothes on.
  • Before you leave, make sure your loved one is comfortable in bed.

And just like that, you’re ready to give bed baths!

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