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Grooming for Late Stage Dementia

This short video clip shows a caregiver grooming a person in a late stage of dementia (time: 2 minutes 45 seconds).

As a caretaker of an individual with late stage Alzheimer’s disease, or any late stage dementia, a necessary part of providing care is to assist with grooming. Due to the late stage of the disease, the dementia patient is unable to handle these tasks on his or her own and requires a significant level of assistance. These grooming tasks include bathing, which may include sponge baths, undressing and dressing, combing one’s hair, and so forth. The following tips on grooming for late stage dementia will aid caregivers in ensuring these tasks go as smoothly as possible.

When interacting with a dementia patient, it’s a good idea to maintain consistent physical contact with him or her. This helps to create awareness that you are still there. For instance, you might sit next to their bed and gently hold their hand while you lower the bed railing. Note, while it may appear an individual in late stage Alzheimer’s disease does not respond to his or her name or a comment directed towards them, this isn’t necessarily true. Often times, reaction times can simply be very slow.

When touching someone with Alzheimer’s disease, use the flats of your fingers and the palm of your hand. This technique is done to ensure your touch is as comfortable as possible. It’s also important to note that in late stage dementia, there is generally a lot of bending of the lower extremities. This means it is crucial to move an individual carefully, not using too much force or moving them too quickly.

Offer commentary and direction as to what you will be doing and how one can assist. For example, tell the Alzheimer’s patient that you are going to help get him or her out of bed, bathed, and dressed. Ask the individual for assistance with some tasks, but expect to do most of the grooming yourself. Also, offer positive feedback throughout the grooming process. For instance, you might tell your loved one that you have a washcloth and are going to help him or her to clean their face. In order to have the individual assist, position his or her hand so it is in your own, with both of you holding the washcloth. Break the task of washing the face into smaller parts, which enables the dementia patient to be successful in assisting. You might tell the individual to wash one cheek, followed by the other cheek, and then the forehead. As he or she progresses in the task, the individual’s comfort level will increase. Continue to offer encouragement throughout the process. However, remember, you, as the caretaker, will still be doing most of the work.

This short video clip shows a caregiver grooming a person in a late stage of dementia (time: 2 minutes 45 seconds).

Learn how a caregiver can groom a person in a late stage of dementia.