The moment of bathing the elderly person: an opportunity to recall life stories
Testimony of Dr. Ilaria Sardo, psychologist Residenza Paradiso, Gattinara (BI) Italy
Bath time: stress for the elderly
As we get older, personal habits tend to change; the rhythms of life, body and mind slow down leading to significant disruptions in daily life activities. What was customary to do until recently becomes hopelessly complicated or even impossible to do. In the light of this, it is easy to understand how
Bath time represents one of the greatest sources of stress for the elderly persongenerating crises of anxiety and sometimes aggression due to the lack of understanding and recognition of all those actions linked to hygienic care, but above all to the perception of violation of one’s intimacy and modesty, generating embarrassment and vulnerability.
This situation is intensified when the elderly person does not recognise the caregiver as a family member, feeling even more violated in his or her personal sphere, increasing his or her sense of discomfort and considerably reducing the degree of cooperation.
Bath time: the caregiver’s experience
If hygienic practice generates stress and discomfort in the elderly person, it is necessary not to underestimate the emotional experience of the carer. Often the emotional experience experienced by a caregiver in such situations is one of frustration, that is, of profound defeat that arises when faced with the difficulty of feeling inadequate to understand the needs and requirements, but also the suffering and worries of the person they are caring for.
Bath time at the Residenza Paradiso
Aware of the state of the art of the context described, at the Residenza Paradiso the arrangements for assisting the elderly person in hygienic care and for supporting the Caregiver in this operation are followed down to the last detail.
In fact, the aim is to make personal hygiene a pleasant, comfortable and intensely cooperative habit for both, Resident and Caregiver. Focusing on positive thinking is the first winning move to create a serene, cooperative and two-way listening context.
Alamar Life videos as support
It must be said that the use of Alamar Life videos at our Residence has significantly helped Residents and Caregivers to experience hygienic care as a moment of wellbeing and relaxation , thanks to the listening and viewing of sounds and images of nature through monitors installed in each assisted bathroom.
From the moment the elderly person enters the assisted bathroom, they come into contact with a regenerating and harmonious context that, thanks to the viewing of the images and listening to the sounds, transforms the environment into a natural and safe place.
Starting from the observation of the films, we observed how the resident, with the help of the caregiver, is easily stimulated to retrieve memories of past life, to tell his or her story to the point of “losing themselves” in the evocation of their life story.
The moment of bathing thus became an opportunity to recall an event experienced, leading the person to make use of memory, evoking his or her life as in a sort of scrapbook of memories. Telling about oneself and past times restores the person’s identity, lowering defences and fears, reducing shyness, and increasing trust and compliance with the Caregiver.
We also noticed a significant reduction in behavioural disorders and greater adherence and cooperation in following the Caregiver’s instructions.
As the resident feels more at ease, it allows the caregiver to experience care in a serene manner, understanding and satisfying the resident’s subjective needs; but at the same time feeling useful, recognised and professional.