My mother who has moderate level dementia doesn’t remember to wash her hair when she takes a shower.

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“Dear Rachael, my mother who has moderate level dementia doesn’t remember to wash her hair when she takes a shower. When the staff suggest that she needs to wash her hair she will tell them it doesn’t need to be washed. It’s making her very angry and sensitive to the issue. She is currently in Assisted Living any suggestions that I can suggest to the staff?”

I guess they don’t help her shower at all? The problem is that she’s probably really offended when the staff tells her that her hair needs to be washed, like anyone would be! Is there a hairdresser on staff? At my community we have a hairdresser come in frequently. My residents LOVE getting their hair done (as most people do!). Maybe you could set up a schedule with the hairdresser so that your mom is “getting her hair done” twice a week. Really, the hairdresser will just wash it.

If there isn’t a hairdresser, could the staff get more involved in her shower? Alternatively, they could offer to “do her hair” themselves. It could be a special event where she has her favorite shampoo and products nearby.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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