Using the Biography Based Care® approach is about pre-planning, making care tasks and activities more pleasant by incorporating long held routines identified on the Personalized Biography Tool.

Even little things that you may not think are important can come to your aid in accomplishing care tasks just when you need it most. Details like, did your loved one normally bathe in the morning, before bedtime or both? Did they shower or take a bath? Did they do this weekly or daily? How often did your loved one wash their hair or shave? What shampoo, soap, aftershave or lotions did they like to use most often? What temperature of water is most comfortable for them? Would your loved one be more comfortable with you standing behind the shower curtain while it is drawn for privacy, or do they need your help with washing in the shower/bath? What about skipping a shower all together and using a washbasin with warm soapy water for a sponge bath?

The biography tool can help you capture the information that will be most useful to you in providing care and creating failure-free life enrichment activities.

The Biography begins by asking you to write in some basic information about your loved one, and then guides you through different parts of your loved one’s life in chronological order.
When they flat out refuse to bathe, the Biography can help you identify the people, places and times in your loved one’s life that are most prevalent in their stories right now. These stories are precious life experiences that can be incorporated into your care giving routine.

Using pieces of the biography tool may look and sound like this: “Mom, it’s time for us to wash up before church.” Use of the word “wash” for shower or bath can be less frightening and if Mom’s routine in her younger days was to wash up once a week and put on clean clothes for church, this reference can evoke positive versus negative feelings around the idea of bathing. There is no need to use words like shower or, since those may cause undue fear.

Actually going to church after bathing is not the point—this need may be met by listening to favorite church music, reading a favored bible passage, or going out to church if your loved one is willing and able.

In some cases, your loved one may not even remember the original reason for bathing after you are done washing up, and that’s okay. What is important is that the care task was accomplished safely with the least amount of stress created for your loved one.

How you get through these care goals, the reason “why” that you give, or the way you accomplish these can change each time you accomplish them—and that’s okay, too.

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Mara Botonis

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