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My mom will be 82 this month. She is very weak from severe fibromyalgia, COPD and arthritis. She used to be very clean and concious of her appearance, but the pain has made showers a huge undertaking. We did get a walkin shower installed to make it easier for her. But, it has gotten to the point that I can't get her to shower more than once every 3 weeks. I feel so very guilty about this. I don't know how insistent I should be. Because of her pain, it doesn't seem right to be stern with her. But, as a result, she has developed sores on her bottom. She wears Depends and is good about changing them frequently. But, since she rarely gets out of bed, except to go to the bathroom and to eat dinner with me, the blood circulation on her bottom isn't good so it's not healing. I have taken her to her doctor-who referred her to a wound specialist. That doctor prescribed ointment and movement to get the blood circulating....so much easier said than done! If anyone has dealt with this issue, PLEASE give me some tips. Now, they are scheduling a home visit and I am so worried they think I am neglecting my mom. I'm not, I promise! I keep a clean house, I insure she eats her meals and we are close. So, ultimately, I need to get her up and around more frequently AND help her to shower/wash her hair weekly, at least. I am beginning to wonder if I should literally get in the shower with her to help her out. She injured both of her rotator cuffs 20 years ago and it is very difficult for her to wash her hair...she can't raise her arms up very high. Ok, so to be very frank: I am VERY stressed about getting in the shower with her....it will definately affect her self esteem and it just seems wrong to invade her privacy like that. Please, does anyone have insight that might help me? I love my mom so much...and the LAST thing we want is for her to be placed somewhere. I know she would just give up if that happened. It is breaking my heart to see my mom age and become so weak..she was such a vibrate, independant lady! Ultimately, how do I improve her quality of life?? For those of you who have read through my ramblings, thanks so much for your time :)

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I suggest you buy her a walk in bath tub he gets to sit and there is a hand held want for washing hair back etc or using as a shower if someone wants to
This way she can sit and bath only problem is filling tub is really really slow perhaps you can add a shower head from the ceiling to help w filling you would have a spout and a head over the legs 2 ways to fill tub otherwise it takes forever but sitting would b easier for her you could help her in and out or someone could and she could sit and bath or someone could help her bath you might need a day helper for her or a live in
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Hi All - I saw that the original post was posted way back but all of us some time need some advice and new ideas sure helps. I also have to help my mom who is in a wheelchair to shower. We only shower once a week but I do not have a walk in shower or anything special. We have a handheld shower installed over our bath and bought a swivel bath chair for her which I put over the bath. I push her to basin - the basin is next to the bath - she grabs onto the basin and pulls herself (with help from me) from the wheelchair. When she is out of the wheelchair, I remove the wheelchair from underneath her and help her to turn and sit on the bath chair. She can not lift her legs to get them over the bath's edge so I will help lifting her legs while turning the swivel bath chair so that she will be over the bath with her legs inside. Then I will use the hand held shower to wet her all over, wash and rinse her hear and thereafter soap her whole body - at some point I will ask her to try to grab onto the handrails of the chair and help her to sort of lift her bottom for a few seconds while I wash her bottom and rinse it quickly. She also has dementia so we are having the same old routine all over every Saturday morning - she would start moaning and would tell me she does not need to shower - it is too painful for her and so on and so on..... she will even start to cry sometimes until I have her on the chair over the bath - she keeps on thanking me, telling me how she enjoys it! And then I will help her dry as far as possible while she is still seating in the chair, lift her legs and swivel it out of the bath again, help her to get out of the chair again by grabbing onto the basin to pull herself up with my help, put a bathrobe around her and push the wheelchair in underneath her. I does not dress her in the bathroom, not enough space - I will push her to her bedroom, help her sit on the bed and then help her to get dressed. I try to be very positive and chirpy when I fetch her for her weekly shower and ignore all her complaints by just "not hearing" it and make light and chirpy talks with her until she is on the chair.

During the week, she will not sleep unless her teeth has been brushed so I push her to the bathroom first after supper to brush her teeth and then take her to her room. I have a big bowl with warm water next to her bedside and I will hand her the face cloth and tell her what to wash. This works for us.
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Well, you're on the right track. I spent quite a bit on a walk in shower with grab bars and a bench. I just don't give her a choice. We have a shower every Saturday morning when she gets up. She gets a reminder the night before to wake me up before she gets dressed and we have a shower. She sits on a towel on the bench while I wash and rinse her hair, then soap her all over. I use a long handled soft fluffy thing I got at KMart: that way it feels to me a little less invasive ( I understand how you feel about infringing on her privacy, but you have no option here). Then I have Mom stand up and hang onto a grab bar (48" from floor, horizontal- works for me, too) while I finish soaping her bottom. Then I use the hand sprayer to rinse her well. I have a terry robe ready to toss over her and she heads down to her room with her walker to finish drying and get dressed. If your Mom can't stand in the shower for rinsing, you could probably do a pretty good job while she's sitting on a bench or a shower chair.

It's important to have everything ready ahead of time, so it goes really quickly and smoothly.

Hope this helps...I worried for a year before I got this worked out. She still doesn't really like showers, but I tell her she has to. She doesn't really give me any grief over it, and there are some things she understands just aren't negotiable- like not putting a half roll of TP in the toilet and wearing underwear with pads.

Another tip for teeth brushing. I got her an battery operated tooth brush which I get ready each evening before bed and bring to her while she sits in her chair, along with a cup to spit in. Her teeth are much cleaner now.
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Thanks for all the tips I just learned. I also had wound problems, not healing ect.. I have a mother that sits in a lazy boy all day and also sleeps in this ( due to her pacemaker she will not lay flat) No matter what I used the wounds would not heal, also in depends all day and night, finally after visiting with a specialist. Mom is off her butt (the pressure point) and lays on the couch for two hours to help with circulation. This helped but the actual solution came from a heated massage chair that was given to us, once she sat in that once a day for two hours, they healed in no time. This routine two on the couch and two in the chair which massages her butt and helps with circulation healed the wounds right away.
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I to have Fibromyalgia, COPD ect as far as drying goes I use a thick (soft) terry towelling robe to dry me. Towels can hurt no matter how soft it is the friction against skin that can hurt if you breath on it. In UK we have a microfibre turban. If someone puts that on for me and leaves for 20 mins then my hair is completely dry. Doesn't even need rubbing.
As I've said in another similar post re hair washing I now only use water or if really dirty Apple vinegar. This can be sprayed on rather than having to get head wet in shower or sink.
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Rather than a standard shower chair that is low, I bought a hip chair which sits much taller---almost like a bar stool. It is adjustable so it can go lower. This has been a real help because getting up is so much easier!
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Thanks, though we have it under control right now, I know there will be a time when I will have to have someone come in. When I checked before, no one wanted to come in just to do baths. Most of the google results are for nursing homes here in Effingham.
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Jackie, go up to "Find Housing and Care", enter your zipcode and click on home care and search. or just google "senior home care in effington IL" and many results will come up.
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Amazon has a "no rinse shampoo cap" that you warm in the microwave. Mom really liked the feel of it and did a little massaging without raising her arms. I also use the thick body cleanse wipes to do her lower legs and feet, since these are hard for her to reach. All other parts she does on her own, what I do just gets her motivated.
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I tried to get an aide, called all over and no one seems to offer this service here. I give her lots of praise which seems to help, and try to stay calm myself. It's exhausting for her, too. And keeping the volume down, with a towel outside the shower keeps the floor outside the shower nearly dry, which amazes me since the doors are open the whole time with me outside the shower reaching in.
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A friend of mine did used to get into the shower with her grandmother, and washed her. The friend wore a shirt and underwear, which of course were soaked by the end but it worked.
My mom was washed thoroughly by a home aide, and she said the aide was so quick and professional that she wasn't embarrassed.
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Mom's in similar shape to YOUR mom. I had grab bars put up all OVER the bathroom and shower. She just can't do it. It's too tiring for her and, frankly, an accident waiting to happen.

Right now, she has home health care....due to end shortly. No showers for her; but every week a lady comes to give her a very thorough sponge bath at the kitchen sink in her wheelchair. Even washes her hair. She's able to stand up briefly supported by the kitchen counter so she gets squeaky clean. Powders her down . . . puts fragrant lotion on all over . . . For shampooing her hair, the aid uses a very wet washcloth and a Turkish towel for around her neck and shoulders. The aid talks to her nonstop, coos at her, reminds her how good it feels to be clean . . . mom hated it the first time; now? No problem. I'm sure I could do it myself, but I've chosen to keep the aid. She charges $30 a week, one visit.

The shower would be absolutely exhausting for mom . . . AND she'd be afraid she'd fall. That's her greatest fear right now.

I hope this helps.
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Follow-up:
Just had our second great Saturday shower, with some modifications. First, Mom sat down right away, so I used the long handled thingy to start washing her, starting with her hair and washing as much as I could. Then I rinsed same and had her stand up so I could wash and rinse the same.

Common denominators that work: the long handled scrubber, starting the shower on low volume to keep the stress down, and having somewhere to sit down. I might mention that I have french doors on my shower so Mom could sit down more easily if she needs or wants to. Also, my sister has a good plan for using a shower chair, putting a soapy towel down first; this would be good if you don't have a bench or she can't stand up.
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I recently spent a lot of money making my shower wider to add a built-in bench and grab bars because I was just frantic that I couldn't get my Mom to take a shower. That's when she told me she didn't think it was necessary to take a shower. Of course I was frantic all over again! I finally told her she had to. She's 88 and uses a walker. There is no way she could get in and out of a regular tub and didn't like the nice shower chair my sister bought; she wanted to stand up. Well actually, she just didn't want to take a shower. For quite a while, the rule was a shower on Saturday morning, but she would turn on the water then get right out without even getting wet all over. So much for modesty. We have finally had one good shower and I pray we can continue this routine. Here's what we do: Mom uses her walker to go into the bathroom, then we pull her nightgown off over her head. I turn on the water to temp that suits her, keeping the volume DOWN. I have a set-up where I can use the overhead and hand shower at the same time, so I have both turned on. Mom holds on to a grab bar at the back of the shower. I wet down a long-handled shower scrunchy and pour on some body wash, then proceed to scrub her entire back side. Then reach around and get as much of front as possible. About this time she's ready to sit down so I use the scrunchy on the front and under boobs and arms. You could also wash hair at this point. Then Mom stands back up and I rinse her off with the hand shower (volume up). Then she walks out of shower and I quickly towel her and put her robe around her. She can then walker herself back to her room to get dressed.
Some notes: I got the long handled scrunchy from K-Mart; it has a long plastic handle and oversize netting

It seems to make a difference to Mom that I have the volume turned way down at the beginning so it doesn't come at her.

If you don't have a bench a chair would work.

At this point I have to get at least part of the way in the shower with her and leave the door open, so turning the volume down also helps keep water off the floor, too.

I just ordered a thick hooded cotton terry robe for Mom so I can just put that around her. Hopefully that will replace a towel and she can just wear it back to her room and finish drying herself with it after she sits down.

Right now we're washing her hair over the kitchen sink. She either leans on the counter or drives her walker right up to the sink. I put a towel around her neck before we start, then dry her with it when we're done. This lets her spend a little less time in the shower and breaks up the cleaning, but we'll try it in the shower and see how it goes.
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Just throwing this in, but they also make inflatable showers that you hook to the sink and it inflates on the floor..you can wheel your mom on to it..inflate it..then shower her...they come with a small pump that then drains it. Could save you a lot of struggling and your mom a lot of pain. Good luck.. I am in the same position that you are but I wouldn't change it for the world.
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Jeanne, thanks so much. You just brought tears to my eyes!
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Whoa, Phriezia! You blame yourself for your Mother's deteriorating quality of life? Is that because you caused her fibromyalgia, COPD and arthritis?

All of us would like to be SuperCaregiver, but, come on, we really do not have the powers we wish for. Some things are just plain out of our control.

If you can keep your mom safely at home, you are doing wonders for her quality of life. Don't beat yourself up that you can't perform miracles.

Work on each challenge, one at a time -- which is exactly what you are doing here. Be proud! Get help! Celebrate the good moments you have left with Mom.
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Oh my goodness, such great ideas/suggestions! Nancy, I like your idea for when Mom might not be able to clean her "bum" down the road. And I agree, humor is extremely helpful. Jeanne, I do appreciate your encouragement to be honest and frank. I need to remember this isn't about me! I have been experiencing depression and guilt, mainly because I didn't know how to help Mom bath regularly and because it's so hard for me to get her 'out into the world'. I blame myself that her quality of life has really deteriorated. We had an invitation to go to dinner at her brother/sister-in-laws home last night. When I finally got Mom into the bathroom, she had an incontinence episode. She did most of the clean up, bless her heart, and was exhausted afterward. We had to cancel because she was so wiped out and we both know that she is pretty "ripe" to be going places. We're going to try again today. Kimbee, thanks very much for giving me the step by step process you use with your mom. I think that will be what I try next. You have described a way to tackle everything: hair washing and modesty...thanks so much! Ultimately, everyone, it's so nice to know I'm not alone. Most of my family thinks my mom should be placed in a NF...I disagree. I feel she deserves to be home where she is loved and valued. We wouldn't be able to afford a really nice place and the alternatives are less than desirable. I keep wishing life was like "The Waltons". I love that show. Family is most important, love is abundant and there is plenty of help!
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Phriezia, what about a commode chair with wheels like they have in nursing homes? I would sit my mother-in-law on that with no clothes on, only a sheet around her, and push her into the shower. It had a hole where her rear-end went, so I had gotten one of those nice shower scrubber things that are soft with a long handle so I could reach under her and scrub her rear. She never had to get out of that chair, and though I got pretty wet washing her hair and body, we'd have a good laugh. Gotta have a sense of humor about this stuff, or it'll drive a person crazy.
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Phriezia, I help my mom bathe in the shower; here's our routine. I get stuff ready ahead of time. Nothing extra in the shower, just her shampoo and the soap. I have a chair sitting just outside the shower. She hikes into the bathroom, rests a minute. I get the water going and have her get in and get wet. I did buy a shower chair to use, but it's so large in the space that it is not so effective. Instead, I have installed a grab bar that just suction attaches to the wall of the shower. (Suprised how well it works, drive brand from Wgreens) She gets in, gets her hair wet, and sits on the built in bench (which she originally didn't think she could navigate, but she has). I give her an oversized washcloth which she uses as a "modesty cloth." After turning off the water, I get in, barefoot, w/ my clothes on, and wash her hair. When finished, I hop out and adjust the showerhead to stream water on her while she sits on the bench. She can then move her head forward to rinse the shampoo out, and finish her shower. When ready to get out, I use a big bath sheet which I hand her to dry her face, then wrap around her front. I hold it in place under her arms, around her torso, have her hold my arms and help her step out to the waiting chair. While she is in the shower I place a micro absorbing towel on the chair, a big fluffy bathrobe over the chair back, then add another towel-regular bath size, to the back of the chair, over the bathrobe. So when she sits, she is on a towel, has a towel on her front side, and a towel between her back and the robe. After seated, I dry her back from behind her, she dries her front. I usually include some back/shoulder massage with the towel in place, as part of the drying process (to give her both benefits of massage and to provide a positive reinforcement for taking the shower). When back is dry, I help her get her arms into the oversized robe and she wraps that around herself, then pulling out the bath sheet and using it to dry her legs. I use the towel from her back drying on her hair then. While she is all wrapped up, I dry and style her hair. As she has dementia, I hand her things which are lined up in order of use on the counter-deodorant, perfume, clothing items etc. Still standing behind the chair I help her with bra and top (she too has very limited range of motion w/ arms/shoulders. She manages the the rest pretty well. I help steady her when she is ready to stand up to pull up underwear. The robe falls into place to cover her as she stands and I pull away the small towel from the seat of the chair. This sounds a bit complicated in written form, but it is really fairly simple to carry out, and provides a means to get the job done. I think you can also buy modesty shower capes/drapes from medical supply places. For now, this is working for us and does preserve some modesty. On bad days, I have bathed most of her, then got out for her to wash her "girl parts" before rinsing while seated. I also bought some face wipes that smell really nice, use them to ensure that face, arms upper chest/back and hands start out clean on non-shower days. Keep baby wipes in the bathroom in a slim cabinet accessable from the toilet. If you have to buy a seat for your shower, my mom felt she would be more secure with arms and a back. I selected one with a non-solid seat, that will drain. While the chair itself really isn't that big, it doesn't allow enought room to get in, turn around, and seated, so get smaller one if possible. We tried using a hand held shower head too, but didn't work as well as I thought it would- need a way to mount it lower in the shower. I think they make chairs w/ a place for the shower head to rest if using that type. The one I bought claimed to turn off at the shower head, not just w/ the faucet, but it didn't and that just made for a mess. Good luck, and know that you may be the one wiped out for several days instead of mom! I thought I would never accept less than 3-4 showers a week for my mom, but we usually average about 2 per week. She showered daily until recently. She resists quite a bit, but always feels better clean, dah!! I have purchased all the stuff for non-shower bathing, but don't want to use unless just have too--my mom would forever refuse shower after she finds out there is another option. Let us know about the hairwashing tray to use in the bed...Don't worry about neglect issues, ask for the help you need. I'm sure they cringe when people deny having problems, when, really, who wouldn't need help figuring all this stuff out?
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"Now, they are scheduling a home visit and I am so worried they think I am neglecting my mom." Please relax. This is not about judging you ... it is about assessing what help your mother needs.

We recently had an assessment which resulted in getting a Personal Care Attendant for my husband. I warned my husband ahead of time that I would be telling about his bad days, not what he can do on his best days. (I hate to describe his impairments in front of him, but sometimes it has to be done.) At the end of the interview the nurse thanked me for being so candid. She said she often deals with seniors who keep claiming nothing is wrong and they have no problems, and then can't figure out why they don't get help. I think many fear that if they admit they have problems they'll be placed in a nursing home. But the truth of the matter is, providing in-home care is cheaper than NH placement and the county isn't about to force NH placement if they can figure out a way to make in-home care work.

Please do not hesitate to be be candid with the person who visits. Don't worry about them judging you neglectful. They just need to figure out how they can make Mother comfortable and safe living at home.
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Thanks, tbailey :) I just finished ordering something I think might be helpful: it's an inflatable "sink" that will allow me to wash my mom's hair while she is laying down. That should really help alot. Also, I found a "donut" still cushion, hoping that will help her pressure ulcer heal. One other thing I bought is "NoRinse" cleansing cream. I'm hoping all of these products will help the 2 of us get her cleaned up more often. You asked about her pain meds: she is taking ultram, naproxen and tylenol each day....seems to help, a little.
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They sell these shower caps I think they have water shampoo in them you place it on her head you can wash her hair anywhere once a week is fine just depends they use to not wash hair as much as we do. I know in my situation My mother in law sometimes gets alot cleaner and fresher if I just give her a bed bath use some good soap and lotion and you can do it daily make it a routine. Use protective cream and maybe they can order her a special mattress overlay medicare should pay .....be honest like you were here in the home visit and Im sure they will understand they will hopefully help. Is she on any pain medication. I just hate to see anyone in pain. good luck....
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Thanks, Paula...I didn't know that bathing and hair washing could be that efficient in a chair. My mom has sent home health care aids away, in the past. Maybe, if I can find out if that kind of bathing is available, she might be more open to it. I really appreciate your response! I'll post if this works out.
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My mother's home heath care aide bathes and washes my mother's hair right in a regular chair. I wouldn't have believed it could be done effectively until I saw the results. We don't have any walk-in showers, my mother can't lift her legs to step into a tub and she has a stiffness in her neck that prevents her from being able to bend enough to wash her hair in a sink.

The aide uses a very dilute solution of Johnson's Baby Wash for bathing, and a no-rinse shampoo for her hair which she manages to lather and rinse just using well-soaked washcloths and a basin of water. She's remarkably fast and efficient and gets through the entire process in less than twenty minutes, minimizing the time my very modest and often reluctant-to-bathe mother spends undressed.

Prior to having the aide, my mother was in a real fix since she wouldn't allow me to do anything for her of such a personal nature. If they're scheduling a home visit for your mother, maybe they can recommend something similar. I hope you can get the help you need — it sounds like you're giving her exceptional care and you certainly deserve some assistance!
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