Last year we had to deal with DH's mother who after her fall and stint in rehab decided that she didn't need to bath. Or she forgot and thought she did it last week.

We really didn't get it.

Now my own husband after his last episode in ICU for a bi lateral pulmonary emoboli has decided he can't shower, bath, or just doesn't have the energy.

I bought him adult wipes that can be used to wipe your areas and do sort of like a sponge bath. I've successfully given him two showers in two months.

He won't allow me to cut his fingernails or toenails [ewwww]. He won't let me wash his hair anymore. I fight with him to change his underwear or shirt when it is dirty.

Now I get it.

Bathing is his one controllable thing he has left in his life. And dang-it-all, he won't clean up until he is good and ready.

Since he has a bit of mobility issues, I've talked him into PT. I'm hoping for a few weeks we'll go to PT. I know he will want to appear clean then....or???

He was hospitalized for Major Depression in August. I think the depression is back. How can it not be?

I've made the cleaning up process as pleasant as it can be.

He has the first signs of vascular dementia as well, so ..

is it depression or control?

His health is very poor. And he tells others that the doctors said normally people don't survive the Pulmonary Emboli he had and that he was lucky.

And he replies that he was very UN lucky.

He's had cancer, he has COPD, PTSD, MDD, Vascular Dementia, PE, CVA [stroke in the speech/thought portion of the brain].

He says he has no life, no quality of life.

And I get it. He just wants to watch endless mindless programs that bring him some sort of pleasure.

Or nap.

Bathing is like running a marathon to him.

He isn't suicidal, but he is tired of life.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Although I personally can't think of anything as nice as warm water running over the skin or soaking in a tub, they are not necessary to be clean. A bed bath can be just as cleansing and sometimes more enjoyable for those with mobility issues and/or depression. Heat the room well, cover the bed with soft towels, use a wash basin of hot water for soap and another for rinsing, and add some warm lotion as a finish before dressing. When my dad with vascular dementia and depression had hip replacement surgery, Mom and I found he liked bed baths (maybe the attention?) and was much more reasonable about them than tub bathing. We kept at least half the body covered with a soft blanket or throw while soaping up, rinsing and drying a section at a time. The water needed to be hot enough that the washcloth always felt warm to the skin.
Helpful Answer (0)
Val3rie Feb 2019
Those are some wonderful tips!
I am so sorry. He has a lot of health issues.

My husband had PEs and I was told that he would have died in 20 minutes had we not sought emergency medical treatment. He had a hard time breathing after for months, he still uses an inhaler when it is windy, humid or really smoggy. Perhaps that is what is happening, hot water could make it hard to breathe.

Bathing or lack of is an indicator of dementia. (Tacy22 posted about this and said something about depth perception gets lost and that makes showering frightening. I am pretty sure that's what was said.)

Maybe she will chime in if I am wrong.

I hope PT helps him.
Helpful Answer (0)
Val3rie Feb 2019
I think it is a combination of so many health issues. He told me he just has such a hard time doing it. However with the new bars, the hand held shower, and all the extra effort done by me...he showered mostly by himself while sitting in the shower because he has a PT appt today.
Another issue is the won't wear his 02 cannula in the shower. So this is a factor also.
But he is clean again and we start the process over.
We'll see how PT goes today.

I asked how he felt afterwards, and his reply was 'like I am going to die' and when I asked him to be specific,...he said 'weak, and exhausted'. I did get him back on 02 as soon as he got out and sat on the chair for me to help him dry off.
Ugh. So hard!
Thank you for your reply.
You certainly both have alot of health issues to deal with regarding all the past and present illness. I admire your strength in dealing with this. Perhaps he might need an antidepressant that may give him more energy. I personally was happy with Wellbutrin but I felt it made it more difficult for me to sleep. I have alot of sleep issues. I can understand how he simply may feel he does not have the energy it takes. Could a doctor explain to him that it is important to shower. Perhaps he could indicate that he could develop more problems if he rarely cleans his skin. Just grasping at straws. I am sorry for what you are enduring. I hope your situation finds some solutions even if small ones.
Helpful Answer (1)
Val3rie Feb 2019
He is the 1% of people with depression that has treatment resistant depression. He gets better with a med [Wellbutrin worked for about 8 months years ago.]. Then worse. It has been a very long up and down road.

He has been hospitalized at least once every two or three yrs with depression and meds have changed constantly since the early 80's...
I just look for a few good moments now when I can.
It sounds more like depression than a need for control. Is your husband on anti-depressants?

I know taking a shower when someone is depressed is a herculean task. Years and years ago when I was depressed I remember feeling as if taking a shower was the most impossible thing in the world and I would spend hours trying to get myself psyched up for it. But when I'd finally take one I felt that I accomplished something.

Encourage your husband to take a shower. Tell him that he'll feel better once he takes one. But try not to pressure him too much. Pressuring someone to do something is exhausting for both people.
Helpful Answer (2)
Val3rie Feb 2019
Yes he has been under care for depression for over 20+ years. He has telehealth visits with his psychologist and we see his psychiatrist in two weeks.
With the pulmonary emboli and the new meds he is on, everyone is being very cautious about changing meds again although they may do that.
I am hoping for some sort of intervention again.
However his health outlook is rather grim and he realizes that.

I just had a neighbor over to install grab bars and hand held shower head. So hopefully that with the seat will be helpful. He does perk up after getting cleaned up. I use heated towels to ease the chill when he is done too.

He says I am a Nag. But how long does one wait?
I had him wash up two weeks ago and I did his hair. He won't wash now.
I'm at wits end.

Thank you for your reply.
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter