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  • How to Prevent the “Battle of the Bathing” at Home with Jodi Bellam

Does Showering a Loved One with Dementia Feel Like a Battle? This Garment Might Help.

Many caregivers struggle with helping loved ones with dementia take showers. It can be a challenge to maintain modesty and keep everyone comfortable. But there's a new product called The Blue Hug that could make things a lot easier.

The Blue Hug is a garment designed specifically for people with dementia who need assistance with showering. It's made of neoprene, which is soft, warm, and water-resistant. It has zippers that allow caregivers to easily access different parts of the body for washing, while still keeping the person covered.

The Blue Hug can be used in a variety of situations, not just in the shower. It can also be used for toileting or giving sponge baths in bed. It's a versatile tool that can help caregivers provide care more easily and respectfully.

How to Prevent the “Battle of the Bathing” at Home

0:02:51 Jodi's Journey to Creating The Blue Hug
0:06:11 Designing The Blue Hug: A Garment Solution
0:11:27 Benefits Beyond Bathing: The Blue Hug's Versatility
0:13:42 The Main Goal of The Blue Hug
0:20:39 The Blue Hug's Potential Applications
0:26:15 Understanding Resistance to Bathing
0:26:54 Obtaining The Blue Hug: Where to Find It

Benefits of using The Blue Hug

Maintains modesty: The garment covers the entire body, so the person taking the shower doesn't have to feel exposed.

Keeps the person warm: The neoprene material helps to retain heat, which is especially important for people with dementia who may be more sensitive to cold.

Reduces stress and anxiety: The feeling of being covered and secure can help to calm people with dementia, making the showering experience less stressful for everyone involved.

Makes bathing easier for caregivers: The zippers make it easy to access different parts of the body for washing, without having to remove the entire garment.

If you're a caregiver who struggles with helping a loved one with dementia take showers, The Blue Hug is definitely worth checking out. It could make a big difference in both your lives.

Where to find The Blue Hug:

You can purchase The Blue Hug online at https://thebluehug.com/. The website also has a size chart to help you choose the right size.

About Jodi Bellam

Jodi Bellam is the inventor and imagioneer of the Blue Hug shower garment, a product that is designed to bring dignity, comfort, and hygiene back to assisted bathing.

Being in elder care for well over a decade has given Jodi a deep desire to help families care for their loved ones as they age. As the owner and operator of Better Off At Home, a company that is dedicated to providing the highest quality at home care for patients, Jodi has learned volumes in terms of compassion and understanding for families and caregivers. She tries every day to make every aspect of home care a better experience for everyone involved.

A Metro Atlanta native, and a Jacksonville State alumni, Jodi gave up a career in advertising to help make the world a better place, especially for our beloved elderly. Her selfless compassion radiates, and has helped facilitate her reputation as one of the premier innovators in elderly care. She wants to be remembered as someone who gave totally and completely of herself to those whom she cares for.

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Transcript

Introduction to The Blue Hug

[0:00] I just finished a wonderful interview with Jodi from The Blue Hug.

Why do I feel so passionate about this interview today?

Because I know how many family caregivers struggle to help a person that they love take a shower, especially when we are sons giving moms showers, daughters giving giving dad showers, or even a person who is a paid caregiver giving somebody a shower and modesty is a thing.

So stick around, listen to Jodi's wonderful product, why she started it, and where you can get it.

Welcome to Dementia Caregiving for Families

[0:44] Hey there, success seeker. Welcome to Dementia Caregiving for Families.

Do you feel overwhelmed with the daily struggle of dementia caregiving, looking for an easier path.

You're in the right place. On this podcast, we teach you the skills to simplify caregiving.

We unravel the mystery of dementia and guide you through the often difficult behaviors.

I'm Lisette, your host and a fellow family caregiver.

As an occupational therapist, I bring my professional and personal personal experience to this community.

Here we speak the truth, but without the verbal vomit.

I know you will find value in today's program.

So buckle up while this flight takes off.

[1:39] Well, welcome back to today's episode of Dementia Caregiving for Families.

I have been so wanting to get my next guest on this program this week because this is something thing that a lot of family caregivers struggle with and not only family caregivers.

And I thought it was very special when I came across her product on LinkedIn, because we all know if you have been helping somebody living with dementia for even a few months or so, sometimes the biggest battle you you have is the battle of taking a shower or bathing.

So I would like to welcome to today's program a good friend of mine. Her name is Jodi.

I'm going to have Jodi introduce herself and tell us a little bit about her background and then we'll get into talking about what it is that she has come up with and brought out into the world.

So welcome Jodi. Hi, thank you. you.

Wonderful. So tell us a little bit about your background. I know that you are a you work in you have a non-medical home health company, but tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jodi's Journey to Creating The Blue Hug

[2:52] Um, okay. In short, I was in advertising for 30 years and in 08, when the market crashed, I just wanted to get out of it.

It had changed so much over the years and I wanted to do something to help people.

I always had, when I met my husband, I fell in love with his grandparents.

They're the cutest people in the whole world. They died when they were a hundred and 102. too.

So they got to stay at home and live with my husband's aunt.

They didn't have to go to assisted living or anything. And I just thought that was so cool.

[3:27] But in 08, the whole world crashed and I lost my job in advertising.

So long story short, I ended up starting a home care agency, which has been an amazing blessing.

I've had it for 14 years and have been taking care of older people.

And I love it. It's wonderful.

Wonderful. So literally your primary vision and role in life is to help people stay at home. Right. Love it. Which is amazing.

Exactly along along the lines of everything that I do and the way I try to help people serve.

But in your working through helping people at home and seeing things that people and family members are struggling with at home, obviously you saw something and that there was a need for assistance in this and I know that you came up with this product and how did you come up with this idea and then tell people what is the product because I've kind of been teasing you know something to do with bathing but we really haven't said exactly what it is so go ahead and tell us how you came up with this idea and then what it actually is.

[4:45] Well, I talked to so many families who can't afford caregivers and I have become a huge resource person because of that, because I can't just say, I'm sorry, I can't help you and hang up the phone.

So this man called me and he's the last one of like 50 families that I had talked to in tears because his mom lived with him and she would not take a shower.

And it had been like three weeks and he just needed somebody to come give her a shower.

You know, I have a minimum. My caregivers won't work less than four hours. They won't even go.

So I'm like, look, let me do some research for you. There is got to be something out there that can help.

So I really just started doing research and looked and looked and looked.

And there was not a product on the market that would help in the shower.

Mm-hmm so I just started thinking there's got to be a way to cover somebody up so that they other than a wet towel yeah which is what everybody uses and then that's just a pain and it's a mess or a shower curtain like I did for many years you know hold the shower curtain try to do what you're helping somebody with and so my husband and I just sat down and he is so So he's one of those people that can make, fix, do, build anything.

Designing The Blue Hug: A Garment Solution

[6:11] So we sat down and we just started talking about what can we do?

How can we solve this problem?

So we talked about a garment. Obviously, it's a garment that you put on.

And we started out with a fabric that was kind of like this, like just a shirt, silky fabric.

He went downstairs, built it on the sewing machine.

We talked about zippers. We talked about Velcro. We talked about snaps.

We designed a couple of them. I got in the shower. I was like, oh God, this sticks to you. You can't do this.

So we came up with neoprene. Finally, we came up with neoprene.

And it's a garment and it's kind of like a hospital gown shape.

[6:53] So for people who are not watching this, but are just listening, it legitimately, no, don't keep it up.

I'm just going to tell them what I see, right? Right. It looks like a an old fashioned kind of nightgown that you can slide over somebody's head with a zipper up the front.

And then I think there's zippers on the side, too. Right. Correct.

There's a zipper on the front.

It zips from the bottom, bottom up.

That's one touch it at the neck and then it zips down to close.

And that way, when they're sitting on the shower chair, you just unzip it up to here.

And a specific spot that you need to the zippers on the sides there's a zipper head at the top and at the bottom so you just unzip it enough to slip your hand in and wash this and then you slip the shower head in and rinse right and the cool thing about the neoprene is that it holds water so it keeps you warm right but for people who um who cannot see the garment It is a wonderful design because the entire time, even though you're opening or closing the zipper, the person's modesty is maintained.

You don't have to see their private parts because I know, you know, for me, one of the biggest experiences that I had as an occupational therapist working with people is the fact that the more you are comfortable working.

[8:21] You fake it till you feel it, right? The first male patient you work with, you fake it till you feel it. It's like, oh my goodness, I don't need to see this, right?

The same thing for sons helping moms or moms helping, you know, this doesn't even just have to be in geriatrics.

I see a 19-year-old boy who'd been in a car accident who cannot take care of himself, whose mom now has to help him bathe.

Maybe mama doesn't want to see his goods and and his mama his he doesn't want his mama to see that's true right so it's not just for dementia or older people right or you know it could be it's a very valuable tool for any type of a caregiving situation but one of the the experiences that i had as a therapist is that the more comfortable a caregiver is in the situation the more comfortable the person is who's receiving the care. That is correct.

And this will make such a big difference for people because a lot of times people with dementia are resistant to having bathing assistance because of modesty issues.

[9:40] So have you had that experience yourself when you've been working with people with this?

Oh yeah. And the thing about people with dementia and what I've experienced and been told.

[9:52] They're afraid more than anything else. And you're asking somebody that has the mind of a child now to take their clothes off in front of somebody that they, because they don't remember who you are.

They don't, they're like, I don't think so. You know, I'm not doing it.

So they have this and you have to convince them to put it on because this is obviously something new to them.

A little different. They've never worn something in the shower before, but once you do, they love it. And the cool thing about it, too, because it holds the water, it's weighted.

And that's why I call it a hug, because it's like a big, warm hug.

And it's kind of like those weighted blankets.

Yes. It really helps with calming people down. Right.

And the other part that I really like is it keeps in the warmth. Oh, yeah.

That's one of the other big things when a person takes a shower is you have two people that you're considering.

The person who's helping is typically hot as heck oh you're not kidding you would not believe the stories i hear right and then the people and these people that are in assisted livings they're you know how big those bathrooms are they have those roll-in shower and you're, they're freezing right but the person helping them is boiling.

[11:10] They are they are so they don't they they turn the air on right right which means what But then that person's freezing even more. I'm freezing even more.

So having something that can keep that person warm makes such a tremendous difference.

Benefits Beyond Bathing: The Blue Hug's Versatility

[11:28] So I get the whole concept about the bathing and the modesty and all of that.

But when the shower is done, tell me a little bit more about that because that's where I was curious. I'm like, oh, I get this part.

But now tell me the, you know, the end part of it. How how does it work when when you've been wet and now you've got to get dry?

[11:52] OK, so as long as you have the garment on, it'll stay warm.

OK, so when when the caregiver turns the shower off, the garment will be soaking wet. They'll still stay seated on their shower chair.

Yep. Then the caregiver will take a towel and she'll put it on their lap and she'll unzip it from the bottom up.

Up and just move the towel up to cover up their privates and then continue to zip up and for a woman obviously move the towel on up to cover up her front then the either the caregiver can hold the towel especially if it's somebody with dementia and you can't say hold this towel you know because they don't know what you're talking about that's why i made these zippers they're marine grade zippers and you can do this with one hand so you have just a caregiver needs four hands and I really thought about that when I was making this because we started out with metal zippers and I was like no this is never gonna work because you're like you know what even go up and down.

[12:51] And so the caregiver can hold the towel, finish unzipping, it unlatches.

You just go like that and it unlatches.

Take it off and lay it back and just let it lay back on the shower chair.

And then you can dry. Get them dried off, get their little robe on, take them out.

And then you'll come back and you'll take the shower garment, hang it up on a plastic hanger in the shower. And rinse it off real good.

Let it dry. mm-hmm so jody have um have caregivers do you have you heard or have there been caregivers that have left the garment on and used the zips to dry the person underneath no because the thing is soaking wet okay so it stays so wet until so you actually have to take it off okay well cool that That is so wonderful.

The Main Goal of The Blue Hug

[13:43] So what is the main goal of this particular, it's called the blue hug, right?

Right. The blue hug. The blue hug. I love it. Water is blue and the blue hug is nice and warm and we can keep it. So what is the main goal of the blue hug?

[13:59] Well, okay. So I have six sizes and so I have a child size as well.

Good. Good. Because, you know, I was thinking kids who I have, I have a very good friend who has two special needs kids.

Exactly. So they're in and out of CHOA, which is Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, if you're not from Atlanta.

And I was thinking all of these kids who get to a point where their mom is going to bathe them and they're like going through, you know.

Yes. And they need to be covered up because that's traumatizing to a child.

It is very traumatizing.

So I have real small all the way up to 2XL, which is pretty big.

And so I have coverage for pretty much everybody you can think of.

But my hope and prayer is that...

[14:51] All of these people who have gotten to a point in their life where they have to be taken care of. And it is so humiliating and distressing and stressful for the families.

If you're if you've never either been taken care of or had to take care of somebody, you really don't know how it feels.

You know, it isn't a very, very emotional time.

You know, it's very stressful, especially if your parents move in with you.

And you're having to take care of them. And like you were talking about sons having to bathe their moms.

[15:28] But I mean, even daughters, like, you know, when I thought about my mom, when I created this, I don't want her to have to take her clothes off in front of anybody, even me. Yeah, I agree.

She's a strong Southern woman that was a career woman. She was a nurse.

She was in administration.

She's, I'm not saying she's prideful, but I mean, I mean, that's not something I would ever want her to have to go through.

And I know there's millions of people that feel the same way about their parents.

Absolutely. They deserve to have their dignity.

And it's a passion of mine to help these people.

I am so excited about this product. I can tell you that I support two parents who have cognitive impairment.

And my mom was in her early, early 40s when she had a massive aneurysm. Oh, my God.

And she is now 76.

[16:29] She just had her birthday. Okay.

She is 76 years old, and she did remarkably well, but she is aging with the significant residual effects of a stroke.

Right. So the right side does not work as well.

And I remember a few months ago, I would have loved to have this product because a few months ago when she was starting to have mobility-related issues and getting in and out of the tub, club and you know i put my old little ot hat on and i modified the bathroom as best they would right me because that's another whole conversation is um as best they would let me and i tried a shower chair and that worked for a little bit and then i'm like this is really not working for my mom and i ended up choosing a sliding shower bench which was very counterintuitive from an ot perspective for me to actually choose to use that with my mom.

But it has been a wonderful, you know, wonderful resource for her, particularly my dad puts it in and out.

But I had to help her with the first shower, because I wanted to make sure that it worked.

And this was shortly after she had fallen, she had a big old skin tear on her hand.

[17:49] And, you know, I'm trying to legitimately using the shower curtain thing that I was demonstrating earlier to give my mom her privacy right and she is so she was so sweet she's like I'm not modest it's okay but I'm like mommy I don't want you right have to right so that's my mom now fast forward to another episode I don't remember if this this was actually before my dad Ed had gotten super sick right two years ago now, like exactly two years ago of this recording.

Today, two years ago, he came out of the hospital.

He had gotten COVID, other medical issues, and ended up, Back in the hospital, back out of the hospital, and ended up having to come stay with us, with me and my husband.

And I had to help my dad take a shower. Right? How did he do?

[18:52] Thankfully, at that point, he was, I call it cuckoo for coca puffs.

Anybody who's been around me for more than a minute knows I have a terrible sense of humor.

That's hilarious. But, but he was super confused.

Thankfully, he was so confused at that moment in time. He didn't care. Right.

But I did. I know. Right. I'm very grateful.

He probably has forgotten this, but we, we had dealt with the whole coming out of the hospital and all of a sudden we're not managing our bladder, you know? Sure.

And the daily, you know, I had sheet protectors on the bed, et cetera, but the daily stripping the bed, washing all of the sheets, doing all of that was like I like that was going to drive me right over the edge.

I had a friend who was a home health nurse worked in home health and she brought me condom cats yeah and my husband graciously helped his father-in-law put on the condom cats so that we could cut down on all this laundry and everything and it was a temporary thing and I know for some people it isn't but I had to make the difficult decision when my husband had to go out of town, am I going to do the laundry or am I going to do a condom cath?

[20:20] You just got to do what you got to do. And I did the whole OT thing.

Yes, ma'am. I am, this is not happening.

Anybody who can see my face right now is going to totally get, like, I'm like, we are going to do this.

And he got through it. Right.

The Blue Hug's Potential Applications

[20:40] Even, like, I even can see an application for your garment with toileting.

[20:50] Okay. Because there are people who are so fearful of their clothing being pulled down that it could be slipped on over their upper body clothing as a dry garment and still give you access but privacy.

And you can turn it around backwards and put it on backwards for that application.

That that would be great because then you just hook it at the top and zip it down halfway down their back and then nothing's in the way and you can even use it in a bed, right it doesn't have to be in the shower you can still if you can turn it around backward and put it on somebody in a bed you can give somebody who is totally bedridden a sponge bath and still maintain their privacy and right Right.

That would keep them warmer than just covering them up with the sheet.

Right. Yeah, sure. Yeah, absolutely.

[21:51] That's a great idea. It's more than just it's more than just in a shower that you could potentially apply this for certain people.

Not everybody is resistant to having their clothing removed and so on in toileting.

But some people are. yeah i think it's worth trying because it affords a person a little bit of privacy but access right and so they could use it in multiple ways yes for sure yeah like for sure and i mean i always i'm always think outside the box what can we do one piece of equipment what can you do multiple different ways that's good right and what are the reasons most of most people typically typically have struggles with bathing for a couple of very important reasons.

We don't know. And oftentimes people never, ever, ever, ever say they've had a bad experience, either being molested or assaulted or something.

[23:01] And what we as the caregivers see is this behavior. Yes.

And that is a, that is a, that is a topic that came up when an influencer had posted a video about this.

Somebody mentioned that, that of course I've never even thought about that, but so many, a huge percentage of people get molested in their life.

And never, ever, ever told anybody.

Right. So I even have had patients over the years when I worked as an occupational therapist with people that I would try multiple different things.

[23:43] To solve the problem that as the very last resort, I would actually have to say to the daughter, do you know, have you ever been told?

Do you have any sort of inkling that your mom has been raped, assaulted, molested.

[24:11] Anything sexually related that you are aware of that could potentially explain what I'm seeing? Right.

Because families don't necessarily talk about these things.

Oh, no. Oh, you know, and so I'll just use myself as an example, because, you know, I mean, I'm me, I can speak for me.

I was about 19 years old. Right.

So not super young, but also not like a child old enough to to really know how to truly handle this.

And I was walking home from a shopping place like, you know, I lived around the corner.

Or so I walked and a car on a sidewalk pull was you know was in the cross that I had to cross over and this beautiful individual decided beautiful sunny day in South Africa in the middle of the day we're not talking nine o'clock at night was jerking off in his car like I had the front row view you know I mean obviously I turned around and walked away yeah but if that was something that was extremely traumatizing to me yes how when I can't express to other people.

[25:38] That I saw this or whatever right now we're fast forward 50 years and I have dementia and that's the loop that's in my head and you bring me a male caregiver right i'm like maybe lizette's gonna say no ma'am right exactly uh-huh so we don't know what we don't know right we don't know what people have experienced through and they may have been so small they that That they don't even know.

But it's ingrained. But it's in there. Forever.

Understanding Resistance to Bathing

[26:15] Right. So, you know, for anybody who is listening, who has a family member who is struggling with bathing, you've got to think outside the box.

More than just, oh, they're being resistant.

There is a reason that they are being resistant. Absolutely.

Always. we just don't know what it is. Right.

And Jodi's product, the Blue Hug, can be something that you can try to see if helping maintain modesty means that you can get the cleanliness.

Obtaining The Blue Hug: Where to Find It

[26:54] Yeah. So that we can keep people healthy at home. So, Jodi, tell us a little bit. How do people actually get your product?

Where can they find it? They can just go to my website.

[27:06] It's thebluehug.com. and there is a size chart that you measure here i can show you with one of these kind of tape measures okay measure like just a regular um clothing tape measure yeah just measure the biggest part of your body like if your breasts are way bigger than your belly you know however you're built if your hips are the biggest part measure the biggest part and then on the chart it will tell you what size to get.

And like I said, I have six sizes and you just buy it right off of the website and I'll mail it to you. That is wonderful.

And so I would, it will, all of the information will be in the show notes.

So we'll put the link in the show notes for people to find, you know, to directly go there.

But I, I think this is such a, such a wide application for people that hasn't even been explored yet.

And I'm very excited.

I was Jodi's first podcast. Yes.

[28:08] I will one day I can say I knew her when.

Yeah. Because I just see such a value in this product.

And I know that the people who this truly can make such an impact on people's lives And the quality of their life.

And I mean, I know it has application in facilities, but at home, I think this is well worth people's investment, especially if they are taking care of somebody, not a husband taking care of a wife.

Combination, but a son and a daughter taking care of a parent or even a professional caregiver.

Like you said, I don't want other people touching my mom's goods.

I want my mom's privacy and modesty to be maintained.

And what a wonderful gift we can give people by maintaining their modesty and keeping them at home.

So I'm very excited about your product, Jodi. Thank you so much for being here today.

Thank you for letting me. Thank you. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

You are welcome. So I'm going to put the information in the show notes and I will be back later on. Thank you for joining us today.

[29:26] Thanks for joining me today, Success Seeker. I pour my heart and soul into this program to serve review.

You can serve me by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts and join our free Facebook group, Dementia Caregiving for Families.

It's a positive and proactive space to navigate dementia caregiving together.

Get practical tools and find support, but without the verbal vomit.

Be a part of our community where we seek to find peace of mind and ease despite the dementia diagnosis.

So join today and see you next time as our friend.

Subscribe To Dementia Caregiving For Families Podcast

If you feel like dementia caregiving is hard and unpredictable and you are struggling to help a spouse or a parent living with dementia, join our next free workshop.
 https://www.dementiacaregivingmadeeasy.com/wsl

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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