Why do elderly’s do this to their caregivers? They won't shower!!

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What can I do to get them to bathe?

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SueC, thanks for sharing your insights on bathing in tubs. I think it's difficult for some folks to understand that getting into a tub, even in ages which aren't considered elderly, can be difficult if not dangerous, for both the bather and the helper. It's better to find a safer way to keep clean, and those ways do exist.

I always feel sad for the elder person when I read the frustration and annoyance of people who think that elders need to get into bathtubs and have immersion baths or showers to keep clean.
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Oh Rainmom, you're so right! After 37 years of nursing (pushing, pulling, lifting and transferring patients), I have crumbling discs, a sacroiliac joint injury with nerve radiculopathy to the right hip, osteopenia and chronic minor back pain. There is NO way, even if I were young, would I put a person in a tub! That should be a 2 person job with a transfer board to a shower chair inside the tub. Your back is much too important to have one accident land you in a wheelchair for life. (Happened to a nurse I worked with in 1980). There are other ways of bathing...large 'baby wipe' type moistened cleansing disposable towels. You can even warm them up. A couple of basins of warm water and bar of soap at the bedside or seated in the bathroom, there are even sprays to cleanse the body and waterless shampoo. Keep your back in good condition by not over using it. After the 6th back strain in a year, my parting comment to the 150 lb. patient I took care of last year, who was a total lift and transfer with no assist, was, "You can always get a new caregiver, I can never get a new back." She was a nurse (years ago), so I'm sure she understood. This one has to last till my dying day!
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"Putting them in a tub is much easier" - until you can't get them out of the tub...
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The presumption of this article seems to be that it is always just a choice between a shower or nothing, but in fact, the main problem the elderly have is not with getting into a bath tub but with taking a shower, since they lack the balance to stand up on a wet, soapy, slippery platform. Putting them in a tub is much easier.
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My sister and I are older adults. Our father is an even older adult. We all agree that since we got 'older', we don't like to take baths or showers anymore. None of us knows why. My sister washes up every other day or so and takes a full shower once a week. My father forces himself to take a shower every day. As for me, I have to have an incentive.
Every time we make an excuse to not bathe, it reinforces the behavior. This may sound odd, but we don't get the "aahhhh, it feels so good to be clean" feeling anymore. Again, we don't know why, but chalk it up as a part of aging. So, without that incentive, it feels like a big hassle. Hope this helps.
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My mother lives in assisted living facility with a large walk in shower. She seemed quite nervous about the whole thing so i bought a teak bench to sit down on and found a way for her to reach soap and shampoo without standing. now she seems to enjoy showering a lot more even though she has chosen 2AM as her favorite time. She also suffers from incontinence though which seems to be a poular luchch topic where she lives. Most of the advice residents give each other is not helpful.........at the risk of understatement.And as in many assisted facilities when i got them to break down the bill we are being charged for asisistance with showering although no one but me has ever helped. I have learned however that if I complain about a relly strange monthly charge i'll simply get hit with a much larger fee for a whole service that won;t happen either. i went on Glassdoor website to see what employees complained about at different facilities where they worked and the fake shower help fee seemed to ourage a lot of former employees across the country..
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Mom is terrified of the tub and even more terrified of the stall shower because it has a large step over. She's fallen twice, and since the first fall, is reluctant to go in. It has not been modified, which was a BIG mistake. If it had been modifiied sooner in her decline, she's probably be more inclined to shower now. It's an ordeal to get her to shower and thank goodness her caregivers are patient and persistent. Mom fights and argues. When she actually volunteers to take a shower, we all stop what we are doing immediately and run to the bath. She "knows" she's not to take a shower alone, but we have to keep an eye out all the time. She cannot use that shower unattended. I could not do this alone and was having incredible difficulty before the professional caregivers started and this is the #1 item on their daily "to do" list.
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kthln3, I hope you have that in a "living will" Your will wouldn't be read and valid until you die, and it will be too late for a nursing home then! Your healthcare directive is the appropriate place for this information.
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Just read these posts, as I have a similar problem with my 95 year old father who has not bathed since May 2013. Won't shave either, won't use an electric razor.

He looks horrendous but surprisingly to us, doesn't smell.

I have simply decided to give up and forget about it. It's horrible enough for me being the main caregiver that I am stuck in the house with him, have given up 99.9% of my friends, social activities and relish the time I get to leave to go to work at my 5-hour, 4-days/week job. That, as well as brief trips to the library and grocery shopping are what I look forward to.

It will be 3 years at the end of March that I've been a live-in caregiver. Yes, I know there are a lot more of you out there that have done this for way longer, with probably more difficult elderly people. I'm not looking for sympathy.

This is the absolute hardest thing I have ever done. I pray every day that I die without inflicting this horrid situation on my daughter. I have put in my will that she is at liberty to place me in a NH and forget about me the moment I begin to slip into dementia.
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I have specific gowns for bath time for my mother so she doesn't have to stay uncovered. when we put the bath gown on her she knows its bath time and I give her a wash cloth with soap on it so she can participate. I do most of it but she still feels that she is washing herself. while she is washing her legs I use a washcloth for shampoo and clean her hair so she doesn't notice as much and I use a small cup to pour water on the back of her head and rinse the front with the wash cloth as good as I can so she will be clean.
My mother is incontinent but if I change her pull up while she is using the potty it works better for me.
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