Fear of falling, fear of scalding and fear of flooding have been identified as the top three washroom anxieties affecting people living with dementia and this may lead to washroom avoidance and diminishing personal care. Unchallenged, a decline in personal care can have a detrimental effect on physical health and well-being, perhaps also manifesting in further withdrawal from activities and diminishing mental health.
These fears are not hard to understand. Many difficulties develop through ageing and can be wide-ranging and cumulative. General frailty, muscle weakness, obesity, degenerative conditions like osteoporosis and neuropathies can all reduce stability and mobility, and lead to a loss of confidence moving around. Sight loss also contributes - common visual impairments are diminishing colour and contrast sensitivity, depth perception, visual field and acuity. Dementia, Parkinson’s and other neuro-degenerative diseases are also increasingly common, and their progressive nature inflicts further complexity, again with mobility and stability, but also including memory loss, and language and communication difficulties. In combination, all these potential issues could have a significant effect on confidence, motivation and potential stress triggers, manifesting as a withdrawal from a variety of activities, including personal care and hygiene.
Avoidance of personal hygiene and grooming brings its own problems whilst exacerbating existing conditions; skin sensitivity or irritations and pressure sores are likely to become infected and painful. Recurring UTIs and associated incontinence are also familiar complaints. Often these combined conditions can develop into a vicious cycle of ill-health, diminishing self-esteem/motivation and declining mental health.
Improving a person’s personal care and hygiene is, perhaps, a viable means to mitigate such declines in quality of life. As such, let’s encourage and build confidence in the washroom, for both assisted and independent showering. In a small series of posts we will consider the top three washroom anxieties felt by people living with dementia, and explain how our product designs address these issues to encourage greater independence.
Fear of Falling - covered in a previous post
Fear of Scalding - covered in a previous post
Fear of Flooding
Overhead and drench showers have been identified as stress triggers for dementia patients who may feel overwhelmed and distressed should a downpour of water fall over their head and face. A smaller, more manageable, spray pattern is available by selecting a handset, hose and sliding holder arrangement, which gives the user full control over the spray height and direction. Restricting the flow rate with a flow regulator is recommended, partly for the environmental benefits in reducing the overuse (and wastage) of pre-heated hot water, but also to aid handling of the shower handset and minimise the pooling of water on the floor (poor drainage increases flooding and slip risk).
Horne shower panels all feature a flow regulator that governs the flow to an optimal 8 litres per minute.
For further information on our dementia-friendly designs, have a read of our Independent Thinking post.