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Our mother claims to have bathed every day. She frequently becomes angry if we bring bathing up. Her bedding and clothes are frequently washed but still carry odors. We’ve asked if she’s scared ( she says no ) we put in a sit / soaker tub but she still refuses. She recently was treated for an infection and the Dr . told her to bath every day but this didn’t help either. We have bought Epsom salts with essential oils , beautiful soap .. nothing will entice her . How do we positively get her to bathe without it turning into a battle ? Thank you 🙏

We try to make it fun for my mother. She has a pivot chair in the shower and a hand held , the seat stays warm and is cushioned. I put the BR heater on one hour before her bath and it warm and toasty. We went from every day showers to every other day. Sponge bath with hair wash and nice scented lotion for her legs as well as some powder. She tries sometimes to wiggle her way out of a shower or sponge but we are on to her and she knows it. I use reverse psychology and it seems to work. I tell her a clean mom is a healthy mom, need to be clean so she does not get infections and then if all else fails I will tell he ok I hope you don't get bugs and that does the trick and she starts begging me to give her a bath. Most of the time she very cooperative. I am firm but gentle.
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Reply to earlybird
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My mom is refusing now to shower. She says she does, daily, but a quick check of her shower shows it's not only bone dry, it's dusty!

She was just 'washcloth' bathing and that doesn't cut it when you are catheterized and have frequent 'leakages'.

She lives with YB and he finally got her to do a 'standing bath' wherein she just completely undresses in her room (they added a space heater so it's like, 100 degrees in there) and she stands by her walker while YB gets to scrub her head to toe. Most guys wouldn't do that. I wouldn't do it either, I am be tougher with her and insist she get in the shower. Yes, it's a hassle, but by age 90, EVERYTHING is a hassle. YB is an EMT, so he sees naked old ladies everyday. It doesn't bug him at all, but my sisters and I kind of gag when we've had to clean her.

She won't let in 'strangers' but in time she just may have to. She needs help about 3 days a week, and refuses it. Just sits and lets life roll by. Sadly, one of the first things to go is daily hygiene.

Those 'rinse free' baths are good for a short period of time--2 weeks at most. My Dh had a liver transplant and that's the only kind of bath he could have for 3 weeks. The day all his drains came out and we got the OK from the docs for him to shower--oh! joyous day. we wrapped him in Saran wrap and taped it closed--put the shower stool in the tub and had the shower on as hot as he could stand it and he just sat and reveled in the feeling of finally being CLEAN. I scrubbed him down, head to toe and he was shedding tons of old gross skin. Gave him a pedicure, lotioned up his legs and arms and got him in fresh jammies. I think that was the single best thing I could have done for him.

If your mom is just fighting you on this, then minimally, she needs to have her face, hands, arms, legs and esp her private areas cleaned daily. My DH was so sensitive to the fact he smelled bad--but he really didn't. A sick body puts off odors they don't normally do.

I don't know if it's the fear of falling or what. We've had to use the shower stool for DH and I had to use it twice after surgeries and it was fine. They're very sturdy and if you worry about slipping, put a towel under it.

Most important, keep things calm. Take plenty of time and make sure they are always warm. Once chilled, my DH takes HOURS to warm up.

There is a FABULOUS product out there called LUME. It is a deodorant for anyplace on the body. Truly--you can apply it like lotion and there is NO SMELL for up to 3 days. I just started using it and it's amazing. It's ok for private parts, feet, underarms---a woman ob/gyn designed it and it's a gamechanger. I might get some unscented for mom--she really gets a little rank and if she could get away with one 'shower' per week--this might help with the other days.
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jannyb Mar 13, 2020
Thank you so much !! Great advice , I will try and find Lume here in Canada as we are finding problems with odour. I will try to heat up her bathroom also , she has told me it’s too cold . Thanks so much!!
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Thank you!
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I think a bath aide could help in this situation.
In addition to the other comments, I wonder if Dad is frustrated because he can't do it for himself. It took my mom a while to process through this mentally. The loss of functionality really bugged her to where she'd refuse baths and be difficult. The bath aides and OT really helped her where I couldn't get through to her.
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I'm not sure what you mean by a sit/soaker tub, but unless that means a walk in tub I think that very few elders can handle tub baths any more even if they aren't resistant. Is the bathroom warm enough? Are there plenty of sturdy grab bars? If you did install a walk in tub did you get one that fills and empties quickly?

Cleanliness doesn't have to mean soaking in a tub, many people prefer to use a hand held shower while seated, IMO separate chairs or transfer benches are far superior to any built in seat because they are slip proof and height adjustable.

Additional routine peri care can be accomplished using a combination of wipes/baby wipes, bidet attachments, sitz baths, sponge baths. Check out some of the products shown here:

https://www.agingcare.com/products/1144/bathroom-bathing
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My husband refused to bathe. He’s wheelchair bound and we have a roll in shire, so the set up wasn’t a problem. He still didn’t want to shower, so we started “bed baths”. They work well for him at this point (never would have worked 2 years ago because he was feisty and very private). Now, he’s more used to being cleaned after bowel movements.

The aid warms up his room. Has 2 basins and washcloths: one for soapy water and another for rinsing. Starting at his head and ending with the perennial area, each section is soaped up, rinsed, dried and lotion applied. Clean areas are covered with a warm towel while another section is exposed and cleaned.

It relaxes him and has done wonders for keeping him clean. Better than the no rinse options, some of which caused dryness and didn’t exfoliate as much as he needs. No rinse options are good for a quick wipe dow, but a washcloth and soap is a lot better.
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cwillie Mar 5, 2020
The no rinse products I am familiar with are used in place of soap in water (sink full or bowl), the advantage being that there is no worry about leaving soap residue - are we talking about the same thing? I've used up mom's leftovers myself and never noticed them being drying, I can see the spritz on ones not doing the job though🤔
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If you have tried all that you can...there are aids that work magic with people that do not like to bathe or otherwise have issues. Anything from safety to family not wanting to take on this task for a variety of reasons.
An Aid from an agency could be hired to come in 2 times a week to bathe your mom. Any other times you can do a good cleaning with the no rinse foam soaps that are very gentle. Using good disposable wipes or a wash cloth and warm water work wonders. You can do this while she is in bed or sitting in the bathroom.
The problem I see with the walk in soaker tub is you have to sit, naked while it fills up, given the height of them it might be difficult for someone else to bathe mom then you have to remain naked and wet while all the water drains out. I think a roll in shower and a shower wheel chair is the way to go, I used this with my Husband and he/we never had a problem.

Even though she denies that she is frightened I think it still might be a fear. A fear of slipping. The bathroom is also loud with the water pounding. The head and torso are "vulnerable" areas and it is frightening to be pelted with water about the head and chest. Also if she is bathing herself it is easy to "forget" what comes next. If you think about it there are a lot of steps to taking a shower or bath.
A bath time is also a GREAT time to do a full body check for any bruising, and signs of the start of a pressure sore, skin color. After the bath a great time to use protective barrier creams on areas that are exposed to urine and fecal matter.
Call an agency and ask about a Bath Aid and see if that would work out.
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jannyb Mar 7, 2020
Thank you! I will definitely try your suggestions.
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Janny, my favorite and preferred response to bathing issues is to switch to no rinse products.  They are more expensive, but they avoid the potential hazards of getting in and out of a tub, which is increasingly unsafe even with grab bars, slide-over benches.

She doesn't need to disrobe completely, doesn't need to be subjected to chills when disrobing, doesn't need to lift her legs to get in a tub....

Someone who posted regularly until her mother passed had an excellent idea, of turning bathing into something very positive.   I don't recall all her suggestions and can't find her post offhand, but she made it a pleasant, bonding ritual.  

Play your mother's favorite music to relax her, use a no rinse product on one area at a time and make sure she's still warm when through with that area.   Take time out for mother-daughter talk, perhaps a cup of coffee or tea, and just relax. 

And think of a reward.   This turns bathing into something not to be feared, but as a mother/daughter bonding event, and something to cherish.

Good luck.   Let us know what you try and what works, or doesn't.
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jannyb Mar 5, 2020
Thank you ! I will see what I can find here for a non rinse product ( we live in Canada ) I appreciate the response ♥️
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