Showers and mental health = there IS a correlation

A friend commented today, “I don't see what showers have to do with mental health”….ie why I “watch” people take showers.

First of all, I prefer to say I observe/assist (either with verbal prompts or hands-on physical assistance), rather than “Watch” lol. That sounds creepy. I try and be as discrete as possible, I know nobody wants to be observed… although most of these people don't seem to care at all.

Second of all, there really is a link. Showering and dressing are both activities of daily life (ADLs). ADLs are often greatly impaired in people struggling with mental health issues,
whether it's dementia or major depression or a psychotic disorder or who knows what. People struggling with mental health are not functioning at top cognitive potential, and often
struggle with basic things such as remembering to wash all body parts, sequencing correctly, safety, etc. We can get a pretty good grasp of someone's cognitive functioning level by how they shower/dress. Do they forget to wash major parts of the body? Do they not notice their t-shirt is soiled or inside out? Things like that. Plus if we do some assessments near the beginning of their stay, and then again regularly through the rest of the stay, we often – hopefully – see an improvement in function that can be concretely graded.

So…showers DO have to do with mental health. 😛

Jan 29, 2009 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none