Rain Shower Heads and Alzheimer’s disease By Lori L aBey
Speak Up – Make a Difference
The little things you notice can make a big difference, so talk about them. Remember, we all see things differently. Here is something I mentioned; having no idea where they might go with the nursing home my Mother lived in.
The rain showerhead idea stuck with me and would not let go, but I could not bring it to Doug, the administrator of the Nursing home Mom lived in, until I knew why it would help. It was a couple of years later when the pieces came together.
I always thought a rain shower head might help reduce my Mother’s fear of the shower. She was not always afraid. In fact, she used to love the water. That of course was before Alzheimer’s took away her ability to know what a shower was, why she needed one and what she could expect taking a shower.
I did not understand why she would say showering hurt her, other than the pressure of the water might scare her and feel hard against her body. A rain shower head on the other hand would be softer, gentler to her skin.
Then one day, I went to a conference on Alzheimer’s disease. A woman by the name of Teepa Snow, an educator specializing in Alzheimer’s disease was speaking. If you have a chance to see her, do yourself a favor. She is a great entertainer and you will learn so much from her. Teepa has tremendous insights!
During her presentation, she talked about fat pads, how we lose them as we age. We have several fat pad areas, but the couple that stuck out in my head were the tops of our hands and on our shoulders. Bingo. Now it made sense why the shower hurt her. Even though Mom was overweight, and by looking at her you would not think she has lost her “fat pads”, but the truth is she had lost her “protective fat pads”.
Now I could go to Doug, tell him I wanted to make a donation to change out the showerheads to rain showerheads. Doug looked at me, and smiled and said something like, “Ok Lori, I haven’t heard this one before, so I have to ask why?”
I told Doug my Mother said the shower hurts her. I did not understand why or how for a long time, but she would routinely make the same comment. It was evident by talking with staff Mom did not like taking a shower anymore. She would get combative. I could understand how the water could scare her. How she could not understand what a shower was, and it did not make any difference if the water was on or not when she walked into the shower. The water just hurt her body when it hit her.
I told Doug, about Teepa Snow, and the fat pads. Doug just smiled and said, “Lori, you have perfect timing. We are just in the process of remodeling the bathrooms. Do you have any other ideas?”
Well, of course I did. We talked about piping music in the bathroom as it can have such a calming effect on people. We discussed aromatherapy, and how it could assist in calming residents down. We talked about heated tile flooring and heated towel bars, lighting and colors. Doug worked within the budget and incorporated most of what we discussed. The staff and designers did a fantastic job, and the bathroom turned out beautiful. The staff and residents love their new Spa room! The atmosphere is totally different, relaxing and beautiful.
As simple and goofy as ideas can sound, I encourage you to speak your thoughts. If something is calling you to pay attention, do it. Look for the whys. Focus on increasing the simple quality of life issues that arise in everyday living. You may be amazed how your ideas are received. I know I was.