How to Provide Personal Care to the Cognitively Impaired

Caring for someone with cognitive impairment presents unique challenges, requiring careful consideration and awareness. It’s crucial to approach our loved ones, clients, or patients with the utmost respect and dignity, while exercising patience and empathy. In this blog, we’ll explore effective strategies and tips for providing personal care with compassion and effectiveness.


Providing advance notice before transitioning to a new activity is crucial. Even if we’re pressed for time, it’s essential to allocate a moment in the schedule to inform the person of upcoming changes. Begin by notifying them that preparations for their shower or bed bath will commence in the next few minutes. Additionally, offering a cue card with a visual representation of showering or bathing can serve as a helpful visual cue.

Giving Choices

When preparing to provide personal care, refrain from asking yes or no questions. Instead of asking if they would like a shower, inform them that you are gathering their items for their shower. Empower them to make choices regarding their preferred body wash or shampoo by presenting options (option 1 or option 2). Limiting choices to two options helps prevent overwhelming them.


Incorporate the patient into the process by allowing them to make selections. After choosing their preferred soaps, washcloths, and shampoo, encourage them to select the clothing they’d like to wear for the day. It’s important to offer a limited selection to prevent overwhelming them.

Helpful Items Make it Enjoyable

Make it a good experience. Small things can be incorporated into your routine to make it easier on you and the patient. Here are a few ideas:

  • Invest in a towel warmer. Place the towel in the warmer when you are starting the shower that way at the end of the shower they have a nice warm towel to dry off with.
  • Small space heaters are also invaluable for ensuring the patient remains warm during bathing. Drafts and feeling cold during a bed bath or shower can contribute to agitation.
  • Play music while providing personal care. It can be a mix of their favorites or something calming and relaxing. 
  • We can’t emphasize enough the benefits of essential oils. Introducing lavender essential oil in a diffuser can create a calming ambiance, promoting relaxation by engaging the senses.
  • Using shower ponchos is strongly recommended to maintain modesty, particularly when giving a bed bath.
  • Enhance bath time by offering a special lotion for application afterward, or introducing a unique comb or brush for added enjoyment.

We often overlook cognitive impairment when delivering personal care. Engaging in the same routine for years, we may inadvertently neglect to adapt to our loved ones’ current needs. Implementing small adjustments and accommodations can significantly enrich the experience for all parties involved.

"I believe deeply in our model of care. Everyone deserves to be empowered, listened to, and supported in their healthcare journey." - Brittany Wagner, Practice Manager

Love this article? Share a link to this page with your community on social media:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *