Why are elderly people afraid of being given baths or showers?

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Often it is about falling. Also, they tend to get cold easily, and the cool air around a shower or bath (warm) can be uncomfortable. It gets much more complicated when people have dementia. They often become fearful because they don't understand what you (or whomever) is trying to "do to them." Why is that water tumbling down in my face? Why are they holding my head down?

It often helps to start with sponge baths, talk gently, keep the room warm, explain step by step what you are doing, and other small things.

Don't forget that for some, it isn't fear, it's control. They can't control much anymore. Well, they can control the shower thing. Add to this the fact that they don't have the sense of smell and sight they once had, and perhaps have lost some of their social adaptation, so they don't find the showers necessary. You may want to read https://www.agingcare.com/Featured-Stories/133877/Dad-Won-t-Shower-or-Change-His-Clothes-What-Do-I-Do-.htm - it is an article on this issue.
I think they are afraid of falling we got a walk in shower but he still slipped with his feet even with socks on
Falling is their biggest fear. A broken hip to many seniors signifies a journey to the end of their independence or what independence they have left. Have you placed a shower seat in the tub or shower? If you help them into and out of the seat, they are usually willing to enjoy a nice warm shower.
We have been looking for assisted living facilities for my father in law. One issue is that he hasn't been showering/shaving. At one of the facilities the director explained to me that some studies have been done and they have found that the sound of running water irritates some elderly people so much that they avoid any type of bathing. This facility is working with the elderly by having music that the person likes playing in the background while they are preparing to shower/bathe. In the beginning it will distract them and eventually they will associate showering/bathing as something nice - like the music. That was a real eye opener for me - we also put mats and a chair in the shower with a hand held shower head.
When my Dad was living with us we purchased one of those "walk in tubs" and he still would fight about getting in, Once he got in he didn't want to get out!!! My hubby would put bubbles in for him and he loved it. Even now though, in his AL He gives everyone there (God Bless them) a hard time this is when they almost always have to give him something to calm him down, so I think it is something very scary to them.mI wish I knew exactly what it is. My Mom who lives with us will get a bath but she needs coaxed, shel'll say I just got one . She would avoid it for sure if we wouldn't bring it up!!!

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