I am in my 5th round of cancer, this time lungs. Thought I would share with you so that perhaps you can come to understand some of the dilemma that comes with being older and ill.

I am fairly independent and do many things for myself. I also tend now to keep to a schedule so that I know what I expect of me each day. I have a personal care aide who is more than willing to help, but she cannot help with the biggest drawback - taking a shower makes it hard to breathe and takes energy away, even with help and a shower chair.

In the past I have been fastidious about staying clean and still am - but now I prefer to use wipes so that I can breathe and it doesn't sap all my energy for the day. Where I used to shower daily or more often, in the past year it has gone down to weekly and that is the day I set aside to sleep and be lazy because of the enormous effort.

Yes, I hate that it has come to this, but my doc assures me this is normal for what is going on. As we age, the energy just isn't there anymore and so we pick and choose what we can and/or cannot do.

Perhaps your relative or friend is experiencing the same feelings. Talking openly and honestly about it helps. My family partially understands, and partially wishes I would take better care - but ultimately it is up to me, and even with the full help of an aide it is a chore that sometimes gets the best of me. Knowing that I have set aside a specific day every week helps a great deal - I can plan around that day!

Hope this helps some of you

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Very helpful perspective indeed, thank you.

I expect your family wishes that you felt well enough to want to shower more often, rather than being dissatisfied with your schedule.

Just thinking through the shower itself: are there any more efficient ways of doing it that would make it quicker, and less of a strain? Any parts of the job you could delegate? Breaking it down into steps:

heating the bathroom
setting up equipment and sundries - towels, flannels, shampoo, bathmat, etc. etc.
running the water to the correct temperature
transferring you into the shower and onto the chair
wash wash wash
rinse rinse rinse
stepping safely out
initial drying
fine detail drying

For example: when I can propose it tactfully, I prefer clients to lie down on their beds for the fine detail drying - especially if they are generously proportioned, because checking that skin folds are completely dry is very difficult otherwise. This also gets round the common* problem that we humans have only two hands (major design fault, there) and it is not reasonable to expect a person to hold on to a grab rail and manipulate a bath sheet at the same time - whereas if s/he's lying down, she can actually manage quite a lot more for herself comfortably and in her own time.

But the really important question: do you, on balance, feel better and more yourself for having showered? If so, it's worth the effort and it's worth preserving your preferred routine. If not... wipes are fine, and bed-baths supported by your aide are also an option.

*almost universal, now I come to think of it.

anrean, thanks you for your experiences when it comes to showering/bathing.

My sig other and I are in our mid-70's, nothing slows us down per say except for the shower. Oh my gosh, it's like going to the gym it can tire us out so much. I think it would be easier to just set up a garden sprinkler and run through it several times :P

I also use wipes, really like what is called "wet wipes" :) I've also tried some of those spray on dry shampoos and they tend to make my hair look oilier, won't use those again.

So sorry that you are struggling. Looks like you are making the best of it. I admire you for that. I love that you want to share your experiences with others to help.

Take care.

Dear "anrean,"

Thank you for sharing what you experience when it comes to not wanting to shower (in your case, more like can't) due to having lung cancer.

Because we each have different circumstances, it's a reminder once again that unless we are in someone else's shoes, we can never fully understand.

I'm so sorry you are on your fifth round of cancer and appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts/advice to all of us.

God bless you!

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