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Home > Health Library > Caregiving: How to Give a Bed Bath
Bathing keeps the skin healthy and can help prevent infections. It's a good time to check the skin to look for sores or rashes. Bathing also helps your loved one feel fresh and clean.
The amount of help your loved one needs when bathing depends on how well he or she can move. You may be caring for someone who has short-term trouble with self-care because he or she is recovering from an illness or a surgery. Or you may be taking care of an older person who has memory problems. The person may not remember how to bathe. Or you could be caring for someone who has a long-term inability to move, such as a person who is paralyzed. This person will need much more of your care when bathing.
A person who has to stay in bed for a short time and who can move a little may be able to take a shower with some help once or twice a week. Or the person may prefer a partial bath at the sink or with a basin every day.
A person who can't move well or who can't move at all needs a bed bath. This is often called a sponge bath, but washcloths are often used too. You can give a full bath in bed without getting the bed sheets wet.
For older adults, you can give a bed bath 2 or 3 times each week. Bathing more often may put the person at risk for skin problems, such as sores. Younger people can bathe more often if they want to and they have no problems with blood flow.
Let your loved one clean himself or herself as much as possible. As you help to undress and bathe the person, act straightforward but relaxed. Bath time can be awkward and embarrassing for you and your loved one. This may be especially true if you are caring for an opposite-sex parent. If you don't act embarrassed or upset, your loved one may feel less self-conscious or embarrassed.
Gather your materials
To give a bed bath, you will need:
Get ready for the bath
Some things to remember
How to help with or give the bath
Current as of:
December 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineGayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered NurseKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: December 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Gayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered Nurse & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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