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Personal Care for a Loved One With Alzheimer’s Disease

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Bathing and Alzheimer's Disease

For someone with Alzheimer's disease, a complete bath may not be needed every day. A sponge bath may be enough.

  • Always check the temperature of the water in the bath or shower.
  • If giving a bath in the tub, try using a bath chair with handrails. Also, place rubber mats in the tub to prevent slipping.
  • Make sure the bathroom is warm and well-lit.
  • Remove or secure throw rugs to prevent falls in the bathroom.
  • If your loved one is heavy or can offer little help, special equipment may be needed. Your doctor can give you advice on how to safely bathe your loved one.

Helping With Hair Care and Shaving

  • Try washing your love one's hair in the sink, especially if he or she prefers baths to showers.
  • If your loved one is able, a trip to the salon or barbershop may be a fun and positive experience.
  • Try using a dry shampoo if your loved one is bed-bound or fearful of having his or her hair washed.
  • To reduce the risk of cuts, use an electric razor for shaving, especially if your loved one is taking blood-thinning medicines (such as Coumadin).

Dental Care for People With Alzheimer's Disease

  • Brush your loved one's teeth daily. If your loved one wears dentures, clean them every day. Check that the dentures fit properly, and examine the gums for sores or areas of redness.
  • If your loved one refuses to open his or her mouth, try brushing only the outside of the teeth. Ask your dentist for advice on providing good dental care.
  • If your loved one brushes his or her own teeth, help by putting the toothpaste on the brush.

Using the Toilet

  • Install safety features in the bathroom, such as grab bars and raised toilet seats.
  • A bedside commode or urinal may be helpful if getting to the bathroom, especially at night, is a problem.
  • Schedule routine bathroom visits to prevent accidents.
  • Tell the doctor about any loss of bowel or bladder control. These problems may be symptoms of conditions that can be treated with medication.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on June 28, 2014
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