Why do elderly’s do this to their caregivers? They won't shower!!

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What can I do to get them to bathe?

Answers 1 to 10 of 26
Last time this topic came up most people were regarding a disinclination to shower in the elderly as evidence of dementia.

That got me thinking.

Homo sapiens have been around for something like 400,000 years. Obviously 99.9% of our history was spent wtitout the option to take a warm sudsy shower. Therefore, any instincts we have in this regard could not possibly be in support of a daily bath or shower.

Even in the modern world, think about the Inuit or desert nomads.

So in reality, the reluctant elder is just jettisoning our acquired artificial cultural conditioning and getting in touch with his "true" self. That is far from dementia.

As far as body odor goes, the chances are great that as a matter of necessity most of us developed a huge tolerance of our own smells. Again, not dementia by a long shot.

Besides those factors, if your life is all about being waited on by your caregiver, there isn't even much utility in comforming to societal norms. Maybe we need housebound-elderly norms instead.

Top Answer
Some people, you cannot ask them "Do you want to take a shower?", you will get a no response every time. But you can give them a choice so they do have some sort of control in the matter..... "You need to have a shower today. Would you like to take a shower right now, or would you like to wait until after breakfast?".

Sometimes they need advance notice so they can get used to the idea, let them know when they get up in the morning "You're going to have a shower after breakfast, which clothes would you like me to take out for you to wear after your shower?" Then about 10-15 minutes before shower time, tell them you are going to get the water going and the bathroom warmed up so the water and the bathroom will be nice and warm and ready for them.

Another thing that works is to give them a reason why they need to take a shower and get cleaned up. "You have a doctor's appointment after lunch today", or "A friend is coming over later on to visit, so we need to get you washed up". If none of those are really the case, if the person you are caring for like to go for rides, or even go have a burger at McDonald's...you can use an outing as an incentive for them to want to get washed up. "I was thinking after your shower, we can take a ride downtown and stop at DQ for an ice cream".

Then other people, you just need to corner them while they are in the bathroom using the toilet "OK, while you're in here let's get in a quick shower", then go ahead and get the shower and bathroom ready while they're using the toilet.

Milach`s suggestions were great,I had a bit of a problem with my Mom,showering,she is 91 and I kept telling her she would feel more relaxed,that it is so important to keep her skin clean because it is very thin,the Dr. appmt. worked well,didn`t think about the ice cream,(that would have worked from the get go)but I also found out she didn`t want me to see her undressed,that she was afraid of falling,but we worked it out and now she looks foward to bathing.
When my Grandmother was under my care, I just had to remain very calm. The elderly get cold very fast so a very efficient space heater was placed in the bathroom for at least a half an hour before. Once she was in the tub because she did not like showers, I couldn;t get her out because it was so relaxing. I used many many warm towels from the dryer so of course my children would run for me. It was worth all of the work.
my mom was the same always cold all the time hse nvever wanted to take shawers or baths she use totak esponge baths twice a day she stopped i had to to get help from friends to get her to take ashwer she fought me all the the imte i couldnt get a aide to come help me i was her sole care taker mom is n a nursing home her alzheimers got worce its been a month she s been a home . she s92 yrs old,
My relative was afraid to get into the bath tub for fear of falling. There is no working shower. She was afraid to get into the tub even with a transfer chair and her caregiver using a hand-held shower. So, every other day, the caregiver gives her a sponge bath, either while sitting on the toilet, or while sitting on her bed. The caregiver also cleans the bathroom, so it is clean enough to do that. She now looks forward to her showers, with pampering, powder and lotion.
Last time I tried to get my mom into the shower I almost broke my own back. So.....no more showers. she does nothing to work up a sweat so a sponge bath is good enough. Just fil up the bathroom floor with towels, haver her stand there and go over her like a car wash. Over in 5minutes - thats all you need. I just bought a hair washing hose and a tray so I can wash her hair separately. What is it with these old people and water though...you would think they were going to drown when the get some water on their face. I give my mother Purel to wash her hands during the day. It is all about ADAPTATION.
This is not uncommon. Here are a few suggestions:
-Do a "weekly bath" - everyday washing one part of her body using washcloths. For example, Monday wash her arms, armpits and back, Tuesday, feet and legs. Ask her to take that body part out of her clothes one at a time to wash, dry and then switch. It takes longer but they be more open to this. Sometimes you could time it during a trip to the washroom and use that as an excuse to clean the genitals.
-Set up a bath schedule and use a calendar. Use incentives to get her to bathe, such as telling her she has to bathe before her favorite TV show comes on or she'll get her favorite dessert. Once or twice a week is sufficient for seniors if they are not incontinent.
-Temperature - Turn up the heat to keep the bathrooms warm. Seniors are often cold when we are wearing short sleeves. If there is tile in the bathroom, cover them with a plush non-slip bath rug (watch her for falls). If you have an overhead heater, turn that on. Wear a t-shirt so you're not overheated!
-Make it like a spa - scented soaps/lotions, heated towels (they make heated towel bars/containers or pluck them from the dryer) and a warm fuzzy bathrobe.
-Make sure the bathroom is safe - use bath chairs, non-slip mats/appliques, grab bars. If they don't feel safe, they will not bathe.
-Install a hand-held shower. Some people don't like the water spray in the face as often happens when sitting in a shower chair. This also allows the warm water to pour over them as they wash and they feel like a greater sense of control.
-Use powders, body sprays, etc to help cover the body odor when you just can't get them to bathe.
-If their depression/anxiety is significantly impairing their ability to care for themselves, speak with a doctor to see if an anti-anxiety can be prescribed and taken before the shower. **Always follow a doctor's advice**

And lastly, many home care agencies offer a bathing service so that you don't have to do the "dirty work". Hire them and then go out for a cup of coffee to de-stress. If you can't hire someone, ask relatives to step up for this onerous task.

Having a terrible time with our 89 year old Dad....at times he has bowel accidents, makes a terrible mess, and then will not use help to clean up, including a shower.....help...
My grandma is wheelchair bound, I give her a bath 3 times a week. She is morbidly obese and has greasy hair. Plus I have noticed that she is more inclined to keep her hand in her diaper even though I change her every two hours. Yes, she cusses at me and tells me I am stupid but I wheel her in that shower anyway. Yesterday, I told her that I felt ashamed for taking up for her at the nursing home as they never bathed her and spoke with the DON several times. I KNOW why they didn't bath her, if I did not care about her hygiene she would sit in filth and complain that no one cared enough to give her a bath! So, no I do not give her an option, she would also never have a bowel movement either if I did not remove impactions and give enemas, it may sound mean but for their well being. You have to decide.

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