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Personal hygiene and dementia

People with dementia can find caring for themselves difficult because of the many steps involved, or they may simply forget about their personal hygiene needs.

They can also become anxious about certain aspects of personal hygiene. For example, they may be scared of falling when getting out of the bath, or they may become disorientated in the shower. The person you care for may not want to be left alone or they may resist washing because they find the lack of privacy undignified and embarrassing.

There are many ways you can help a person with dementia attend to their personal hygiene needs. You can try:

  • reminding them to have a bath or shower
  • keeping to their old bathing routines as much as possible – for example, if they always had baths, then keep that routine going
  • installing special bathroom fittings such as a grab-rail to make them feel safer when they are getting in and out of the shower or bath
  • breaking down the tasks into simple steps
  • making sure they have as much privacy as possible, while ensuring their safety.

You can discuss any issues you are worried about with the person’s doctor.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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