Resident Participation Reduces Agitation

Resident Participation Reduces Agitation and Aggression – 

We hear it all the time. Many residents simply don’t want to have a bath, a partial bath or a shower. They object to having their personal hygiene taken care of by others. In this story, you’ll see how resident participation reduces agitation and aggressive behavior.

That was the case with Mrs. Mortimer*.

When attendants approached her and said or implied that it was time for bathing, she got extremely agitated. It was frightening. She would scream loudly and lash out physically. Her arms and legs were flailing wildly – she was hitting, scratching and even biting.

As much as Mrs. Mortimer was clearly going through some trauma, it was also a traumatic and intolerable situation for those caring for her.

A new approach was definitely called for.

So, one staff member decided to employ a technique learned while training in the Montessori method adapted for those with dementia. Based on the 12 Montessori Principles, she came up with a plan.

She approached Mrs. Mortimer in a calm manner. She identified herself. Then she explained in a soft, non-authoritarian voice that she was there to bathe her.

The next step was very important: she gave Mrs. Mortimer a washcloth – something to hold – so that she could participate in her own care if that is what she wanted.

Then the staff member gently moved Mrs. Mortimer’s hand to her face to let her understand what she was to do with the washcloth. She was being given the choice of participating in her own care or not. But it was her choice to make.

The entire time she was taking care of Mrs. Mortimer, the staff member sang softly and found that to be very helpful as well.

It seems that Mrs. Mortimer likes having some control over her care. She likes washing her face and does it several times during her bath. She is definitely engaged.

She is not yet helping with the rest of her body,  but she is noticeably less agitated and aggressive than she used to be, especially with this particular staff member. And that was the main goal.

The washcloth is now an important part of her care routine.

*not her real name

Training in the Montessori Method Adapted for those with Dementia is available online and onsite, for individuals and for groups.

Find out How to Become a Montessori Inspired Lifestyle® Credentialed Residence.