My 94-year-old grandmother lives with me. She will only let me wash her hair every 10 days or so. She loves to go out but I tell her that she isn't clean and a huge argument ensures. She has Stage 3 Dementia. She is physically capable of taking a shower with my help but refuses to do so because she hates when I tell her what to do. She does take a sponge bath each day but only washes important areas. How can I get her to take a shower? I have tried a calendar and other sneaky ways to encourage her but she resists what I try because she says she hates me. It has been 3 weeks since her last shower.

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I have noticed for myself that taking a shower is like going to the gym for a work out. It can be very exhausting for many seniors. Especially if one has memory issues, and/or mobility issues, etc. I can't imagine how it will feel 20 years from now when I will be 94.

Another thing, some seniors become claustrophobic when in a shower. Especially if there are glass doors. I know for myself, I need to keep the far door open a couple of feet. Sitting in the tub works but it is a major chore getting in to sit down, and more so trying to get up :P

Then there is the fear of falling. If your love one is using a moisturizing liquid soap and/or hair conditioners, it will make the floor of the tub/shower feel like an ice rink, even with a tub mat inside. I almost slipped the other day.

Towel drying isn't easy. I find myself hopping around trying to get one foot and leg dry, can be a challenge. So easy to get one's feet tangled up in the towel.

A parent doesn't need to shower daily, twice a week or once a week is good enough, unless they are doing hard labor. If a parent is a Depends wearer, baby wipes work quite well between showers. Recently I found a product called “Water Wipes” in the baby section, quite pleased with the wipes.
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NeedHelpWithMom Nov 2020
One tip with slipping is to lay a towel down. I find it’s less slippery than a non slip mat. Leave the mat there though and place a towel on top.
Some older people are afraid of the shower. Do you have help? Sometimes it’s easier for them to allow someone other than a relative to help.

Can you purchase no rinse products made for sponge bathing? I have seen others post about them and are satisfied with them. Or fill a container with warm water and her favorite soap and sponge off.

Falls can be scary in the shower. Do you have bars? A chair? Non slip mat? Is the room warm enough?

Tell us a little more about her. It’s great that she still likes to go out.

How long has she been with you? Do you want to continue being her caregiver or do you think eventually she would do better in a facility?

How are you doing? It’s not easy being a caregiver.
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Does she smell? If she doesn’t, then the sponge baths on the smelly bits are working adequately. Is there any easy way to improve them just a bit more? A bidet, or a stable basin on top of a stool, is a good way to wash between your legs. I use both for diarrhoea clean-up.

Regarding hair, I have long hair, and I normally wash it every 10 days. I have a good shampoo and conditioner, and I only wash it more frequently if my scalp is sweaty. It just isn’t an issue for me. I worked out that my actual hair took a long time to get dirty, the issue was my scalp. Washing behind my ears, like the old instruction, helped a lot because they were the places that got sweaty quickest. You can do that and the back of the neck with a face washer at a hand basin.

Perhaps if you stopped worrying, it would reduce the tension around washing. Think twice about whether there really is a problem, or if it's just your expectation of 'what's right'.
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Often it is easier to get someone else to get a resistant person to shower.
Contact an agency and ask for a Shower Aid. These people have been doing this and can work some magic when it comes to getting someone to shower or bathe.
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