Bathing & Hygiene Top Tips: Promoting Comfort and Cooperation


The forum is filled with people coming together to share valuable information. We’ve compiled experienced caregivers’ best tips and suggestions for helping a senior feel secure and relaxed while helping them bathe.

How to Help a Senior Feel Comfortable and Safe

“There have been some studies showing that Alzheimer’s and dementia patients are fearful of water and slipping. They can get very emotional about bathing. An in-home caregiver may be able to better handle this task with your loved one. That makes it less personal and your loved one might want to please the bather. I told my mom that she was helping this lady keep her job and take care of her kids because she was being paid to bathe her, and if she didn’t do it, then she might lose her job. My mom wanted to help her bather then and did all she could to be cooperative with the nice lady. My mother also hated being cold and often did not want to bathe unless the bathroom was heated to the 90s.” –Caregiverto89

“Explaining what you are going to do before you do it is very important. Be gentle, do not rush, communicate slowly and clearly, and try to make it a happy experience rather than a struggle. Playing a favorite song while attending to their personal needs can help lighten the mood.” –Sujjata

“It’s important to make sure the room is warm and there are plenty of towels to wrap up with afterwards, especially up here in the cold north. Put a heater in the room ahead of time, run the water in advance to make sure it’s warm, have a safe spot to for them to sit, and use a handheld shower head to avoid spraying them in the face. Keep in mind that shower hoses let parts of the body get really cold, so be careful about that. In other words, do everything you can to make it a comfortable environment. Promise something nice afterwards like a favorite snack.” –Sophe509

“Once or twice a week, my father was told that he was going to bathe. I would warm the house and set a towel on one of the vents so it would be warm. Then my mother would turn the water on in the walk-in shower so that it would be ready for him to step in. There was a shower seat inside, so she would help him in and then sit in the bathroom with him until he was finished. He always felt better after bathing, so the feeling was rewarding to him, I know.” –JessieBelle

“My Dad was very shy around his paid caregivers, but eventually that shyness slowly went away. It might take longer when the caregiver is a member of the family. I remember when one gal wanted my Dad to take shower and she said she would help him. Dad kept making excuses. Eventually, she put her hands on her hips and said frankly, ‘I raised a house full of boys—there isn’t anything I haven’t seen.’ That got Dad laughing, and he finally gave in. :)” –freqflyer

“My mom was washed thoroughly by a home health aide, and she said the aide was so quick and professional that she wasn’t embarrassed.” –Danashel

“If bathing is a serious struggle, start by giving them an anti-anxiety medication one hour before bath time. Sit them in a shower chair with their robe and undergarments still on and wash their feet, then their arms. Talk softly to distract them, and give them a washcloth or hand towel. As their clothing gets wet, they will want to take it off. Have another warm robe ready for when you’re finished.” –pamstegma

“Elderly women don’t like being exposed, they don’t like being cold, and they don’t like being bossed around in a condescending manner or treated as though they are half baked (even if they are at the time). Make sure the bathroom is warm and free of drafts. Have plenty of warm towels available, and only uncover and wash one part of the body at a time. Give the patient a wash cloth to wash the ‘front’ of the genital area, then have them turn around and do a really good job right through from the back if needed. As each body part gets washed, dry the area and wrap it in a warm towel. Only do small parts at a time, drying immediately. For example, only do one arm at a time, not the whole front of the body.” –Veronica91

“Elderly folks are not as comfortable with change or accepting help. They often balk when they realize that their routine and sense of control may be drifting away. We bought my dad an electric razor, and he sat in his arm chair and shaved when he ‘wanted to.’ Afterwards we bragged on him and how wonderful he looked. We also had his favorite aftershave close by and told him he looked ready to go dancing. As far as bathing, we would tell him we were washing a load of clothes and needed to launder his outfit. We laid out a clean set of clothes or had him choose one before we got his shower ready. Then we took him into the bathroom to ‘exchange’ his clothes and left him to his privacy for his shower.” –Agingcare21

“I bathe my husband using Aloe Vesta cleansing foam, which is sometimes used in hospitals. It does not need rinsing and it may also be used to shampoo hair. I have found he is more cooperative if I give him his bath in stages over a couple of days, rather than all at once. Whatever works!” –myami16

Ashley Huntsberry-Lett

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Ashley is responsible for the planning and creation of’s award-winning content. As a teenager, she assisted in caring for her step-father during his three-year battle with colon cancer. Now, through her work at, she strives to inform and empower the caregivers who devote so much to helping and healing the ones they love.

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