What is the best way to bathe an elderly person who complains that it hurts when their skin is being rubbed during the bathing process?

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My mom is 101, and I give her weekly bed baths (she can't stand to be bathed more frequently, although I do clean her thoroughly after every bladder and bowel movement) with packaged pre-moistened cleansing cloths. I try to be as gentle as possible, but even so, she says I'm rubbing too hard. She can't stand to have her toes touched, which means cutting her toe nails and trying to clean between her toes, are almost too painful for her to endure. She complains of being cold all the time, even when wrapped in several blankets and having a space heater blow warm air constantly right next to her. I feel so ill-equipped at times in caring for her, and worry that I may not be doing things properly. I'd appreciate any ideas, suggestions, or tips that have worked for others in my situation. Thank you all!

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Ali, I think you've worked out a good routine.
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I have been told by a group home caregiver that has 6 elderly residents that dementia and Alzheimer's can cause an individual to actually feel pain from water in a shower or bath . The skin does get thinner and so maybe a very soft pair of gloves and a silky soap that smells of lavender to relax the person.
Sensitivity to the pressure and sensation of the water . . .
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Alifay you are dong just fine. You can come and give me a bath anytime.
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Thanks for the suggestions! We do her bathing on her bed, which I spread out a big fleece blanket on that I can keep her wrapped up in while washing each section of her body. I use no-rinse bath wipes, which are heated up in the microwave, plus keep her room nice and toasty warm. Then I rub her down with body lotion, powder her on her chest and back, and call it a day. I guess I'm doing better than I thought.
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Someone that age probably has very sensitive skin. What are you using to clean her? Washclothes? Bar soap? Liquid soap? Something that simple could be the problem. Perhaps even just patting her skin instead of moving a washcloth over it might help.

I would also do some research and see if there's something else you could use that isn't as abrasive as a washcloth might feel to her. You could also research herbal soaps and try them out; the fragrance would be relaxing and the content would be different and perhaps not as abrasive.

Maggie Marshall used to post here and wrote some very insightful posts on bathing older people. She suggested making the bath more like a spa ritual, something very relaxing and soothing instead of uncomfortable.

This is a general post, referring to search hits here on bathing issues:

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/nursing-home-wont-give-resident-a-shower-193518.htm

This is one of Maggie's posts, on blending common sense with cleanliness:

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/mom-refuses-to-take-a-shower-177699.htm

This is another thread with very helpful suggestions:

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/get-mother-in-law-to-agree-to-an-assisted-bath-171932.htm?cpage=1

If you can turn this into a bonding instead of an unpleasant ritual, you and your mother will both be able to enjoy the experience.

And be sure and treat her afterwards, whether it'swith tea, hot cider, a few cookies (if compatible with her diet), or just mother/daughter chatting. It'll help her think more positively about bathing. And do consider the sponge bath issue; immersion baths can be too unsettling for older people.
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Are you keeping your mom covered during the bed bath, exposing just the area you're cleaning? This won't make a difference if she's in pain during the bath but it might help keep her warm.

Another idea is to have a big bowl of hot water at the bedside. Dip the cloths into the water and then use it on your mom. Wash the area and immediately dry the area and then cover the area back up.

I'm sure you're doing a very good job in caring for your mom. Being responsible for all the needs of another person is an impossible task and no one in that position can do it perfectly. It's impossible to do it perfectly. Just do the best you can with what you have to work with.
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Sounds like neuropathy. Ask the MD about prescription medications for that.
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