Shower Solutions for Someone Living with Dementia

Vicky Pitner   -  

When caring for loved ones with memory challenges, many tasks can become increasingly challenging. One common activity that many caregivers experience increased resistance to is the participation in shower or bathing routines. There can be various reasons for the disinterest in bathing, and someone living with dementia may have a difficult time expressing exactly why. Below are some strategies to make showering/bathing more pleasant for your loved one.

  • Cold temperatures can be a major cause for someone not wanting to disrobe for showers. It can be helpful to turn on the shower ahead of time with the bathroom door closed in order to create a warmer and more comfortable environment. Warm up towels in the drier before and after bathing.
  • As the day goes on, many people with dementia may experience increased confusion and sometimes agitation. If this is the case, taking showers earlier in the day should go over more smoothly. Be mindful of respecting the person’s routine. If a man has always shaved before his shower, adhere to that, or it will be confusing.
  • It is always important to keep one’s integrity and modesty in mind when helping with showers. Use draping materials, such as towels or washcloths, to help maintain as much privacy as possible while assisting with a shower. This will help the individual feel more comfortable and, thus, improve cooperation.
  • Some individuals will be more agreeable to a doctor’s request for scheduled showers versus a family member’s. In this case, keeping a prescription for showers written by their physician will come in handy.
  • Engaging in an activity such as walking or gardening prior to taking a bath or shower provides a great rationale for caregivers. Using a phrase like, “Wow, that was a lot of work, we better go get cleaned up,” can be a non-threatening way of making the transition.
  • Consider mixing up the language and swapping the word “shower” with the word “spa.” This word may sound more pleasing, especially to a female.
  • Check the pressure of the showerhead. If it is too powerful, it can actually be painful for someone with dementia. Change to a more gentle pressure setting or replace it with a new one if necessary.
  • As with any task, allow your loved one to be as independent as possible in helping with their self-care. When an individual feels involved, useful self-esteem and feelings of success are able to emerge. Their involvement will also help to lighten the caregiver’s load.

If you, a friend, or a family member living with please memory loss and would be interested in learning more about our Memory Ministry, Memory Café, or our Virtual Family and Friends Education and Support group, please contact