Jun 18, 2011

Sometimes Alzheimer's Advice Works Like a Charm -- The Shower

We should have a saying that goes, "an Alzheimer's caregiver can conquer the world (Alzheimer's World) with ice cream?

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Nothing like some good positive feedback to make my day.

This week we received the following question from our reader Betty in the comments box below, Ron Goes to Day Care, Carol Shares Her Feelings.

Are there any Alzheimer's caregivers out there that are having problems getting their loved one to take a shower? I could use some advice.

I decided at first to answer this via email.

Here is a copy of my email to Betty.

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We did have big problems at one time with the shower.

First advice. You have to find a way to make the shower part of the pattern of the day. Now, some say one or two showers a week is good enough. I don't disagree. However, if it is only once or twice it is hard to form a pattern.

Second advice. I found it was easier to get my mother to shower around 3:30 in the afternoon. I usually say its time to take a shower, she says I don't want to.

Then I say, well, we are going out. Lets take OUR shower, have a snack, and then go out.

We actually go out most to the time. Into bright light.

You could also say, lets take OUR shower and then go out and get an ice cream. You substitute whatever the person really enjoys for the words ice cream.

Important, don't get frustrated. Alzheimer's patients feel vibes.

Don't try and force them to do something they don't want to do.

Be patient. Look for a way to create a pattern of what you are doing before the shower and right after the shower. Snack or go out works for us. However, you can tailor your approach to what you believe will work best your case.

Try including something that is desirable with the shower. Use positive reinforcement.

Bottom line, the majority of Alzheimer's caregivers have problems getting the patient to take a shower.

I am going to put something I wrote about this previously on the website today.

I get questions about showers all the time.

Next I decided to redo a previous article I wrote about the Alzheimer's patient and the shower. If you missed it, you can read it here, Alzheimer's and the Dreaded Shower.

Early this morning, I received the following email from Betty.

I just wanted to tell you how much I love you! Last night at 9:00, I said to Jim, "Honey, how about taking a shower now and then having an ice cream treat with me afterwards?" He smiled and said that was a great idea! After the shower, I gave him a choice of two kinds, and he chose his favorite, a mini Snickers Ice Cream Bar. We went to bed happy and clean!!! No more battles in the morning for me...

What can I say, love, happiness, cleanliness, and ice cream. The perfect mixture.

Needless to say this made my day. The shower made Betty's day.

It appears that Betty changed the time for the shower, and added in the ice cream as the positive reinforcement.

They have a saying that goes something like, "you can get more with sugar than you can with vinegar".

We should have a saying that goes, "an Alzheimer's caregiver can conquer the world (Alzheimer's World) with ice cream?

Congratulations Betty, you did it.

More Insight and Advice for Caregivers

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,680 articles with more than 512,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room