Phriezia Asked July 2012

How do I assist my elderly mother showering and washing her hair?

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My mom will be 82 this month. She is very weak from severe fibromyalgia, COPD and arthritis. She used to be very clean and concious of her appearance, but the pain has made showers a huge undertaking. We did get a walkin shower installed to make it easier for her. But, it has gotten to the point that I can't get her to shower more than once every 3 weeks. I feel so very guilty about this. I don't know how insistent I should be. Because of her pain, it doesn't seem right to be stern with her. But, as a result, she has developed sores on her bottom. She wears Depends and is good about changing them frequently. But, since she rarely gets out of bed, except to go to the bathroom and to eat dinner with me, the blood circulation on her bottom isn't good so it's not healing. I have taken her to her doctor-who referred her to a wound specialist. That doctor prescribed ointment and movement to get the blood circulating....so much easier said than done! If anyone has dealt with this issue, PLEASE give me some tips. Now, they are scheduling a home visit and I am so worried they think I am neglecting my mom. I'm not, I promise! I keep a clean house, I insure she eats her meals and we are close. So, ultimately, I need to get her up and around more frequently AND help her to shower/wash her hair weekly, at least. I am beginning to wonder if I should literally get in the shower with her to help her out. She injured both of her rotator cuffs 20 years ago and it is very difficult for her to wash her hair...she can't raise her arms up very high. Ok, so to be very frank: I am VERY stressed about getting in the shower with her....it will definately affect her self esteem and it just seems wrong to invade her privacy like that. Please, does anyone have insight that might help me? I love my mom so much...and the LAST thing we want is for her to be placed somewhere. I know she would just give up if that happened. It is breaking my heart to see my mom age and become so weak..she was such a vibrate, independant lady! Ultimately, how do I improve her quality of life?? For those of you who have read through my ramblings, thanks so much for your time :)

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Rich5600 May 2017
Waiting for a call nobody called yet.
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Zannefair Sep 2016
I suggest you buy her a walk in bath tub he gets to sit and there is a hand held want for washing hair back etc or using as a shower if someone wants to
This way she can sit and bath only problem is filling tub is really really slow perhaps you can add a shower head from the ceiling to help w filling you would have a spout and a head over the legs 2 ways to fill tub otherwise it takes forever but sitting would b easier for her you could help her in and out or someone could and she could sit and bath or someone could help her bath you might need a day helper for her or a live in
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Myoldlady May 2016
Hi All - I saw that the original post was posted way back but all of us some time need some advice and new ideas sure helps. I also have to help my mom who is in a wheelchair to shower. We only shower once a week but I do not have a walk in shower or anything special. We have a handheld shower installed over our bath and bought a swivel bath chair for her which I put over the bath. I push her to basin - the basin is next to the bath - she grabs onto the basin and pulls herself (with help from me) from the wheelchair. When she is out of the wheelchair, I remove the wheelchair from underneath her and help her to turn and sit on the bath chair. She can not lift her legs to get them over the bath's edge so I will help lifting her legs while turning the swivel bath chair so that she will be over the bath with her legs inside. Then I will use the hand held shower to wet her all over, wash and rinse her hear and thereafter soap her whole body - at some point I will ask her to try to grab onto the handrails of the chair and help her to sort of lift her bottom for a few seconds while I wash her bottom and rinse it quickly. She also has dementia so we are having the same old routine all over every Saturday morning - she would start moaning and would tell me she does not need to shower - it is too painful for her and so on and so on..... she will even start to cry sometimes until I have her on the chair over the bath - she keeps on thanking me, telling me how she enjoys it! And then I will help her dry as far as possible while she is still seating in the chair, lift her legs and swivel it out of the bath again, help her to get out of the chair again by grabbing onto the basin to pull herself up with my help, put a bathrobe around her and push the wheelchair in underneath her. I does not dress her in the bathroom, not enough space - I will push her to her bedroom, help her sit on the bed and then help her to get dressed. I try to be very positive and chirpy when I fetch her for her weekly shower and ignore all her complaints by just "not hearing" it and make light and chirpy talks with her until she is on the chair.

During the week, she will not sleep unless her teeth has been brushed so I push her to the bathroom first after supper to brush her teeth and then take her to her room. I have a big bowl with warm water next to her bedside and I will hand her the face cloth and tell her what to wash. This works for us.
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jackie47 May 2016
Well, you're on the right track. I spent quite a bit on a walk in shower with grab bars and a bench. I just don't give her a choice. We have a shower every Saturday morning when she gets up. She gets a reminder the night before to wake me up before she gets dressed and we have a shower. She sits on a towel on the bench while I wash and rinse her hair, then soap her all over. I use a long handled soft fluffy thing I got at KMart: that way it feels to me a little less invasive ( I understand how you feel about infringing on her privacy, but you have no option here). Then I have Mom stand up and hang onto a grab bar (48" from floor, horizontal- works for me, too) while I finish soaping her bottom. Then I use the hand sprayer to rinse her well. I have a terry robe ready to toss over her and she heads down to her room with her walker to finish drying and get dressed. If your Mom can't stand in the shower for rinsing, you could probably do a pretty good job while she's sitting on a bench or a shower chair.

It's important to have everything ready ahead of time, so it goes really quickly and smoothly.

Hope this helps...I worried for a year before I got this worked out. She still doesn't really like showers, but I tell her she has to. She doesn't really give me any grief over it, and there are some things she understands just aren't negotiable- like not putting a half roll of TP in the toilet and wearing underwear with pads.

Another tip for teeth brushing. I got her an battery operated tooth brush which I get ready each evening before bed and bring to her while she sits in her chair, along with a cup to spit in. Her teeth are much cleaner now.
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Lindalee25 May 2016
Thanks for all the tips I just learned. I also had wound problems, not healing ect.. I have a mother that sits in a lazy boy all day and also sleeps in this ( due to her pacemaker she will not lay flat) No matter what I used the wounds would not heal, also in depends all day and night, finally after visiting with a specialist. Mom is off her butt (the pressure point) and lays on the couch for two hours to help with circulation. This helped but the actual solution came from a heated massage chair that was given to us, once she sat in that once a day for two hours, they healed in no time. This routine two on the couch and two in the chair which massages her butt and helps with circulation healed the wounds right away.
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LucyCW Sep 2015
I to have Fibromyalgia, COPD ect as far as drying goes I use a thick (soft) terry towelling robe to dry me. Towels can hurt no matter how soft it is the friction against skin that can hurt if you breath on it. In UK we have a microfibre turban. If someone puts that on for me and leaves for 20 mins then my hair is completely dry. Doesn't even need rubbing.
As I've said in another similar post re hair washing I now only use water or if really dirty Apple vinegar. This can be sprayed on rather than having to get head wet in shower or sink.
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Marimba Sep 2015
Rather than a standard shower chair that is low, I bought a hip chair which sits much taller---almost like a bar stool. It is adjustable so it can go lower. This has been a real help because getting up is so much easier!
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jackie47 Aug 2014
Thanks, though we have it under control right now, I know there will be a time when I will have to have someone come in. When I checked before, no one wanted to come in just to do baths. Most of the google results are for nursing homes here in Effingham.
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pamstegma Aug 2014
Jackie, go up to "Find Housing and Care", enter your zipcode and click on home care and search. or just google "senior home care in effington IL" and many results will come up.
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pamstegma Aug 2014
Amazon has a "no rinse shampoo cap" that you warm in the microwave. Mom really liked the feel of it and did a little massaging without raising her arms. I also use the thick body cleanse wipes to do her lower legs and feet, since these are hard for her to reach. All other parts she does on her own, what I do just gets her motivated.
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