Bathing Dad Brought Me to Tears...


Last night, I had a REALLY painful revelation. My Dad is a LOT sicker than I thought he was. I knew Dad had trouble breathing and that he got certain things crossed up, but this move to the new facility has revealed SOOO much about his needs... needs that I must have ignored.

After hospice relayed that Dad wasn't bathing (and me marking the soap bottle to see that it hadn't moved in a week), I knew I would have to endure World War III and get Dad in the shower. After an hour of back and forth, I finally convinced him to just go in the shower and I would wait outside until he was done.

That's when I heard the wheezing and walked in to find Dad slumped over and gasping for air. He screamed at me to "Get Out" because he didn't want me to see him naked, but my heart broke. I had to catch him as he started sliding to the floor. Despite his protests, I helped him stand and took him to the shower myself and bathed him. Thankfully, Dad's sight is bad because he surely would have seen the tears coursing down my cheeks. Every few moments I could feel him shaking from being completely worn out. I tried to encourage him to sit on the bench, but he refused.

I kept thinking, "OMG! How long have I been letting Dad do this alone?" He seriously could have slipped and hurt himself long before now. Have I been ignoring him that much or have I just been in denial... and he's SOOOOOO thin! SOOOO frail!

We fought the whole time...

Me: Dad, do you want to sit down and put on your pants

Dad: I don't need to sit down (as he gasps for air while trying to balance on one foot to put on his pants)

It was truly humbling... and scary. I've REALLY got some decisions to make.

BUT.... I can always count on Dad to say something totally hilarious in spite of our differences.

Dad: STOP LOOKING AT MY JOHNSON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

...That dried up the tears.

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Tiny the first time is always the worst (well for most things) You and Dad seem to have worked out a compromise so for the time being at least you are all set.
I totally lost my modesty a couple of years ago and it does not bother me when a male CNA lifts my sweater to put leads of for an EKG or raises my gown to prep the groin for a procedure.

Tiny, Something that was surprising to me when we moved mthr to the memory care is that some old folks sitting at the table were actually paid assistants. Apparently, in my area, it is relatively common to hire someone to feed your elder at meal time. I wonder if you could hire someone to be a visitor for your dad in the VA hospital, accomplishing making sure he is taken care and providing company. Yes, he will not get as much staff attention while your employee is there, but that person will be cheaper than a full-blown NH and improve the care he receives.

So eventually when he needs skilled care, what will you do? Can you relinquish his VA benefits especially if you are not happy with a VA NH? It sounds like AL as an option is not meeting his needs and realistically he isn’t going to improve.  
The VA provides free health care and what else? You aren’t using Aide & Attendance. What if he were hospitalized and needed skilled care afterwards? He’ll have to go to a VA nursing home only? This  limits many options.
This is so hard I know. But it’s costing YOU money. He is indigent except for the VA? When he gets ill do you take him to a VA hospital or a civilian hospital? 
I feel bad for you that you have to do all of this on your own & your sibs aren’t helping. 
He may actually like the VA as he’ll be with other vets his age. A place doesn’t have to look like a palace to provide good care. 

Just another thought -- Dad was eligible for extra shower aides (besides the MC facility) when he was placed in Hospice. I think I could have asked for a different aide if his hadn't worked out.

When I gave Mother a shower a couple of times a week,I would put on my swim suit and Mother would wear her pink panties and bra and we'd both go in together and I'd have her sit on the built in shower seat.When it came time to wash"down there",I would step out after giving Mom the soap and a washcloth and when she was done,I'd go back in and we'd get out together. I understood Mother's modesty because I am modest too and I would have wanted to be covered in some way too.
Take good care, Lu

This breaks my heart. I've been there, when Dad was living with me. We had a shower aide, but it just wasn't enough or always reliable. I came up with a process that worked, but it was very tiring for both of us. I bought an adjustable chair with arms from a medical supply comp and had Dad sit on it on a towel while I removed his shirt. Then he would stand, using his walker, while I quickly took his pants down and had him step out of them. Then I held the towel up behind him as he stepped into the shower, using the shower bars/rails and sat down in a shower chair. I put lots of soap on a wash cloth and he washed as best he could as I sprayed him (from behind him) with the hand-held sprayer we installed. I bought 'wand' type bathing aids for his behind. (Dollar store cheap, so they were toss-able.) In reverse, I layered his shoulders with a towel, had him sit on a towel in the 'med' chair, and quickly covered him with a towel. Still... it was such a blessing when MC took over. I can't believe that your dad's facility doesn't have someone that can step up and help him while making him comfortable with their help. And ...someone else may know for sure, but I don't see why he can't become Medicaid eligible, either thru forfeiture of his VA benefits or thru directing the benefits to a Medicaid SNF. Bless you for doing this for your Dad. (Oh, and Dad was scheduled for twice a week, but there were the oft-times between due to incontinence that required a full shower. I'm afraid that your Dad may need to have someone at least checking him to be sure... While Dad was at home, I could tell bc he needed help with toileting and prior to that he always made such a mess in the bathroom.)

Hi Shane. Due to cost, Dad would need to go to the VA facility which is free for a reason. It's the most miserable place I've ever seen and it's quite a distance from me, but Dad's VA benefits disqualifies him from Medicaid. Medicare homes where I live have TERRIBLE ratings, and he's not quite rich enough for a private pay facility.

I'm weighing options now, but in the meantime, he seems to be getting more comfortable with me helping him. It was much less of a fight today. I'm thinking once to twice a week should be enough bathing. It's not like he's doing strenuous work and getting sweaty.

I wish he would change clothes more often...only on bath day. One battle at a time.

Tiny what about a nursing home? He may receive more attention there.
ALF does not have the staff nor the time, unfortunately, to coerce your dad to get in the shower or go to the dining room to eat. Now you see the effort it takes for him to get to meals. He may fare better in a SNF.

I’m sorry you had to experience this but also please know this isn’t something you neglected or ignored. This was something your dad wanted to keep from you, something in all of us wants to protect our independence and dignity for as long as possible and this was his desire. You’re better off now, you know for sure he needs help in showering, and hopefully he can get that help through hospice at his new home rather than have to suffer the indignity of it with his daughter. Please look into that now, and present it as a new fact, not an option in his care. He’s blessed to have you I his corner

Tinyblu, when one gets older, bathing can become exhausting. My sig other and myself are only in our early 70's, and it's becoming more and more of a tiring chore to shower.

To help your Dad, get him a sturdy bath chair so that he can sit down while showering.

I remember when my Dad was too shy to have his caregiver in the bathroom with him. But Dad was a fall risk. The caregiver finally put her hands on her hips and said "Mr. Bob, I raised a houseful of boys, there isn't anything I haven't seen". That got Dad laughing, and since then bath time was easy.

So either your Dad showers or you will spray him down with Lysol :)