14 Tips How To Shower Someone with Frontotemporal Dementia!

November 28, 2017

Let's face it head on. No positivity, to cover the negativity. No sugar coating it. Showers are SO HARD for people with Dementia, and in our case, especially Frontotemporal Dementia.

Showering has been one of the hardest things for my mom to do, since she was diagnosed with FTD. It even goes way back before she was diagnosed. After 4 years of being diagnosed with dementia, I finally have a routine down, that actually seems to work.

The beginning stages I could not get my mom to shower worth anything. We were so desperate to at least get her hair washed so we would pull a chair up to the sink and wash her matted hair that way. Just like the way you get your hair washed at a beauty salon. Other times, my mom would say "NO", to showering. She thought she was just fine.

The assisted living memory care place, that my mom is at now, has only been able to help my mom shower once, since February. They are always asking us "how do you shower your mom?". "Can you show one of our CNA's how to shower her?" I kind of feel like I'm a professional, when the professionals, are asking me how to give my mom a shower.  :)   I shower my mom at least once a week, at the assisted living place. If I get lucky, twice a week.

Here are some tips that I do now, that seem to work. I hope this can help someone else out there. I hope this can help someone out for the beginning stages, and to help you prepare for the mid/later stages. The beginning stage is so hard because you go into FTD blinded. For me, it felt like I had to figure everything out on my own.

I put together all of my mom's shower essentials. This includes: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bath sponge, razor, and lotion. I found a basket to put all of these shower essentials into. This basket has helped save me, by having it all in one place, ready to use. I just pick this basket up, and take it to the bathroom. I store this basket in my mom's bathroom on the counter.

I believe that the pump shampoo has helped me out a tons during the shower process. It has saved me time by just doing one squirt each to get the shampoo and conditioner. It eliminates me having to open up the shampoo bottle, squirting shampoo out, and closing the bottles like the usual shampoo is like. I find these pump bottles at Costco, but I'm sure you can find them somewhere else, too.

FTD Dementia Showering Tips

The Shower Announcement / Exciting, Happy Voice
I always start out with telling my mom "It's shower day today" and I say it in a really exciting voice. I'll always say something like "let's do it really, really fast". That way it makes it sound like it's not a big thing, and it won't take too long. I never ask "do you want to shower now"? If I ever ask my mom in a question form, it always leads to a "NO".

Use These -

It's shower day today!

We are showering today!

We are going to get you ready for _____ (place something they are going to be doing soon or something that excites them here)

Never Use -

Do you want to shower today?

Are you ready to shower?

Can I help you shower today?

Step by Step
2. In our case, I will tell my mom the steps to shower because she has a hard time with everything that goes into having a shower. I specifically will start off by telling my mom to "take off your earrings", "take off your watch", "take off your shoes", etc.

Pick Out Clean Clothes
3. While we are doing step #2, I get my mom a clean outfit out of her dresser, that she will wear after the shower. I get her shower basket and everything she needs for the shower ready. I learned from early on that my mom has a hard time to pick out clean clothes. I'd suggest to just pick out the clothes for your loved one to wear, instead of asking, "what do you want to wear today?".  I noticed once I started picking out clothes for my mom, it was a relief for my mom.

Remove Hair Accessories/Comb Hair
. I take out my mom's hair accessories from her hair. I comb through her hair before showering.

Enter Bathroom/ Take Off Clothes
We enter the bathroom with her shower basket, towels, and clean clothing. I tell her to take her clothes off.

Test Water Temperature 
I get the water started and make sure it's the right temperature, before she gets in the shower. I ask my mom to feel the water, and tell me if it feels like a good temperature for her.

Rinse Hair and Body with Water / No Surprises
7. I have learned that it's best to not just have the water in the shower blast my mom, all at once. I have learned that she does better, when I tell her what I am doing next. Like I'll say " I'm going to rinse your hair now, close your eyes". She doesn't like to be surprised with the next step. I'll tell her what I am putting on her hair and I let her know it's going to clean her hair. 

Shampoo/Condition Hair, While Loved One Washes Themselves with Soap
I'll shampoo/condition my mom's hair, and while I'm doing that I have her cleaning herself with soap and a bath sponge. I will tell her where she needs to clean herself. Otherwise, she is confused where to clean herself. At the end, I'll help her wash areas that I think need extra washing. Having her clean herself, seems to help distract her from what I am doing, and the parts to the shower that she doesn't like.

Wash & Shave Arm Pits
I tell my mom to raise her arms and then I wash and shave her armpits.

Rinse Time
10. Make sure you rinse all of the soap off with water. :)

Shower is All Done Now/ Drying Time
11. The showering part is all done now. I will give my mom a towel, so she can dry herself off. I will help dry her, with another towel, to help the process go faster.

Help Put Clothes On
12. I help my mom put on all of her clothes after the shower. She will go into her room after that, and put her new clean socks on. My mom has been needing a little extra help lately, and I help her put her socks on, too.

Comb Hair/ Let Hair Dry
13. I will comb my mom's hair for her and put it up into a pony tail, while her hair is still wet. This is just something we've always done and something that she is use to. We let her hair dry while it's in a pony tail. I have never blow dried my mom's hair. If it works, for your loved one, then blow dry their hair.

Make Them Feel Beautiful / Compliment Them
14. I almost forgot this tip. This is the fun part of the steps to showering. I like to put blush on my mom's cheeks for her, after we are all done with everything. I tell her "she's beautiful". I tell her that her hair is so pretty. I use to put lipstick on her, too. I feel like at the stage she is now, she doesn't need lipstick on, and blush is enough for her. This part is the most rewarding part for me, after the shower, because I get to see my mom smile, and feel beautiful.

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These are just some of the steps we take, while I help my mom to shower. These steps work for us. I never realized that so much goes into showering and we usually don't have to think about the steps to showering, it just comes to us naturally. With a person with dementia, it is so hard for them to think & process all that showering requires. I had a stroke last year and showering is sometimes hard just for me. The stroke opened up my eyes, even more, to how many steps there are to showering. I will admit I have forgotten to use shampoo to wash my hair or I have only shaved one leg, and forgot the other one. The brain does so much thinking, in the shower process, that sometimes you don't even notice. It just comes naturally to those who's brains are working more correctly than others.

I know showers are so hard. It's probably been one of our constant challenges throughout the FTD process. I am happy that I have a routine down, and I just hope that the assisting living will get it down sometime.

At the end of the day, do your best. That is all that you can do. Remember you are amazing and you are doing a great job!

If anyone is reading this who has been through this, or is going through this now, please add your tips and tricks for showering in the comment area, so we can all learn from each other.

This is just our journey to showering. I know everyone has their own separate journey.

Thank you for reading! :)

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  1. Natalie you are a saint thanks for all that you do for mom!

  2. Oh my gosh yes! My mom does not have FTD, but with her stroke, showering is something that requires planning, time and patience! This is a great resource!

  3. My in-laws are into this stage this is very helpful. Found you on Traffic Jam weekend link party

  4. Great post! I would never have dreamed so much goes into showering someone. This post will help so many people!

  5. It is difficult for carers who do such a wonderful job. Thank you for your informative post and tips which you have shared with us at #BloggersPitStop.

  6. I commend you !! This is not an easy feat what so ever, but it must be done.


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