Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, Vol 5, No 1 (2014)

Taking a shower: Managing a potentially imposing activity in dementia care

Gunilla Jansson, Charlotta Plejert
Issued Date: 29 Mar 2014

Abstract


This article focuses on an activity routinely carried out in elderly care: taking a shower. The care setting is two nursing homes in Sweden hosting elderly people with dementia. The data consist of transcriptions of three caregivers’ interaction with their residents prior to, and during the performance of the shower task. While the shower routinely is rejected by the care recipient in these settings, the article demonstrates alternative ways of performing the task that are less imposing for the elderly person and that may maintain the care recipient’s dignity and sense of autonomy. The way opposition occurs during the course of the activity depends on how the care worker frames the performance of the task. When physical action is embedded and aligned with the care recipient’s concerns, the washing of the body progresses more smoothly. The article highlights the importance of allowing the care recipient to feel that her priorities form the basis for how the activity should proceed. The implications of this study for the care system are discussed in terms of providing opportunities for caregivers and elderly persons to build relationships of mutual trust and support.

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DOI: 10.1558/jircd.v5i1.27

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