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I always feel sad for the elder person when I read the frustration and annoyance of people who think that elders need to get into bathtubs and have immersion baths or showers to keep clean.
Every time we make an excuse to not bathe, it reinforces the behavior. This may sound odd, but we don't get the "aahhhh, it feels so good to be clean" feeling anymore. Again, we don't know why, but chalk it up as a part of aging. So, without that incentive, it feels like a big hassle. Hope this helps.
He looks horrendous but surprisingly to us, doesn't smell.
I have simply decided to give up and forget about it. It's horrible enough for me being the main caregiver that I am stuck in the house with him, have given up 99.9% of my friends, social activities and relish the time I get to leave to go to work at my 5-hour, 4-days/week job. That, as well as brief trips to the library and grocery shopping are what I look forward to.
It will be 3 years at the end of March that I've been a live-in caregiver. Yes, I know there are a lot more of you out there that have done this for way longer, with probably more difficult elderly people. I'm not looking for sympathy.
This is the absolute hardest thing I have ever done. I pray every day that I die without inflicting this horrid situation on my daughter. I have put in my will that she is at liberty to place me in a NH and forget about me the moment I begin to slip into dementia.
My mother is incontinent but if I change her pull up while she is using the potty it works better for me.
-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.
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.
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.