ARTICLES / General / Bathing
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By Gwendolyn deGeest, RN,BSN,MA
Peter was 13 when he had his first
dog, 18 when he worked in the lumber camps, and 20 when
he married. Peter, now 74, is pacing up and down the
hallways of Tick Tock Manor where he is a resident.
Peter always paces on this day, because today is Peter’s
bath day. Things are done right on schedule at Tick Tock
Manor. The caregivers never forget Peter’s bath day.
Even more amazing, is that, although Peter has dementia,
he never forgets the bath day either.
This morning is different, however. Peter is clutching a
small book close to his chest. When the caregiver
approaches him to offer to assist Peter with his bath,
he becomes agitated and walks off quickly in the other
direction. Any further mention of bathing sets Peter off
in an angry outburst.
Peter and I sit side by side in the lounge situated next
to the bathing area. And Peter proceeds to share the
family photos in his small album. It becomes evident
that many of Peter’s photos have been taken of a black
Labrador dog in a garden. “Who is this, Peter?” I ask.
“That’s Sparky, my dog,” replies Peter, with a big smile
on his face. Peter is happy to share that he and his
dog, Sparky, have spent many happy years together. He
also adds that he misses Sparky very much. In one of the
photos, Peter is in the backyard with Sparky, where
Sparky is receiving a bath.
“What’s going on in this picture, Peter?” I ask. “Oh,
Sparky is having his summer bath,” says Peter. “I can’t
do the bath in the house, because Sparky races around
after, shaking off all the water. Sparky loves being
clean.” Peter shows pride on his face.
I see this as an opportunity to distract Peter away from
his own bathing situation.
“Peter, I see that you and Sparky are having a lot of
fun together. And Sparky likes to be nice and fresh and
clean. That’s great. Let me help you to be nice and
clean as well. And when Sparky comes for a visit, you
will be fresh. How does that sound?” “I don’t know about
that. Do you think my wife can bring Sparky for a
visit?” “Sure she can Peter, anytime, and you and Sparky
can have a good visit. Let me first help you with your
bath. Let’s go.” “Oh, alright,” says Peter. He takes my
hand and we walk together to the bathing area.
The small book is left behind on the table, the book
containing memories of who is Peter, the book that holds
the photos of Peter’s best friend, Sparky.