Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Comment and Question from only of my Readers

I recently received this email and have permission to share. I made a few suggestions but thought that other readers might have some helpful insights.....

"I am an occupational therapist. I received a copy of your book "Still Giving Kisses" a couple of years ago when my mother was starting to exhibit cognitive changes and she was still living independently in senior housing with assistance from a home health aide for shopping , laundry , and showering (although at that time she was refusing to shower as she preferred to sponge bathe.
She has been living in an assistive living facility for the past two years, with cognitive and functional skills greatly declining. The biggest problem is her refusing to shower and refusing to let aides assist her, therefore even sponge bathing , brushing teeth and hair are not consistent . I picked up your book which had been sitting on my shelf and read it through and was amazed at how similar my mother's life has been to yours. I could totally identify with you, your sister and your mothers situation.
I loved you suggestions for cognitive stimulation (I am jewish so your specific activity ideas hit home although they can easily be adapted to any culture).
I was hoping to find suggestions for improving my mother's cooperation with hygiene as that is the biggest struggle. After getting her to agree to a shower twice a week I posted a schedule in her bathroom to remind her when the aide would be in and time so the aide could point out the schedule and remind her that she agreed to it, but my mom proceeded to tear it down. She has a fear of getting water in her ears , and I have provided ear plugs, but she continues to resist. She won't allow the aide to help her with a sponge bath, but does not initiate herself. I am planning to post a simple reminder with one or two words and a picture for washing/ showering, tooth brushing , and hair brushing to see if she will initiate given this visual cue I stead of being told what to do.
Do you have any suggestions? Wondering if you had to address this problem with your mom or other dementia patients.
Much thanks for any additional ideas"


  1. My mom has had ear problems since she was a child. She had tympanoplasties as well. The ENT told her to coat a cotton ball with vaseline and use that to prevent water from getting in her ears. It works much better than ear plugs. Good luck!

  2. Sometimes its all in the approach. Ask your Mom questions that lead to positive answers about bathing and hygiene. Try to determine what your mom likes and try to modify the environment and train the caregivers to do things "Mom's way." I apologize if this is painfully obvious, but this approach is time consuming and requires careful observation of behavior and analysis of your Mom's responses to your questions. I have spent weeks working with patients in the middle stages of dementia to figure out what they want regarding self cares using this method. Time and patience seem to be your best allies in this task.

  3. I'd like to suggest two mobile apps for iPhone and iPad that will aid in improving patient care. They are for healthcare professionals in the field of geriatric medicine including nurses, caregivers, and residents. Download free samples of each app to check them out:

    1) Case Files: Geriatrics:

    2) Physical Therapy Case Files: Neurological Rehabilitation:

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