Guest Author - Jeanetta Polenske
Of all the activities of daily living, bathing is the most difficult to define within a specific set of rules. That is because, historically, it is a human ritual that falls under the influence of culture, society, religion, geography and economics. Regardless of your own view on the subject, there are so many benefits of bathing and a great deal of adapted aids to help, whether you bathe yourself or care for others.
The basic reasons for bathing are to clean the skin and remove odor. Some other things to consider are that it removes old skin cells and, therefore, renews new skin. It promotes good health by removing harmful bacteria. It helps relieve some common discomforts that cause itching or skin irritation.
Bathing can decrease stress, depression and fatigue. It can be used to cool and refresh the body. A warm bath helps induce a relaxed sleep. The process of cleaning increases blood circulation through the skin. Most important, it gives one a chance to check the skin for any pending problems. Use this time to assess color, texture and temperature or any changes that may lead to illness.
The greatest problem in bathing is safety. To that end, many companies are now making walk-in showers and bathtubs with safety in mind. They can be custom built with access doors at ground level for ease of entry. A front entry spa/tub is also available. Add a handheld showerhead, foot brush and shampoo/shower gel for greater independence in bathing.
While in the tub or shower, consider a stationary chair or chair/lift that either sits upright or can be tilted in a semi-lying position. There are also systems that are capable of transferring from bed to tub/shower or from wheelchair to tub/shower to prevent injury to the disabled and/or caregiver. Safety bars can be installed as well as non-skid mats or safety strips in, and in front of, the tub/shower.
A bed bath is as beneficial as any other for the same reasons. Either bring supplies to bedside or use an inflatable bath which can be slid under the person, inflated and filled with water. As with shampoos, there are also no-rinse body washes and bathing wipes.
Use a long-handled bath sponge or loofah for back, legs and toes. The lotion applicator employs a long handle that can be filled with bath gel, body oil or your favorite lotion and has rolling balls that massage the skin in hard-to-reach areas. Some products have handles that can be bent into varying angles for individual needs.
Use textures, soaps and lotions according to preference or need. Some people cannot tolerate perfumes or added ingredients in soaps. Others have fragile skin and require more gentle pressure and products.
Anyway you choose to bathe, there is equipment that you can use to maintain independence, promote more independence in others or give care to another. Bathing does not have to be done every day for everyone, but donít neglect to use bathing as an enjoyable as well as a healthy experience.