How can I get Mom to shower?

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She lives in assisted living & has refused help, saying (believing) she showers herself but really doesn't

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Search on Youtube for "Teepa Snow bathing a patient" and the video will come up for how to bathe a dementia patient. Even if your mom doesn't have dementia, these instructions will be super helpful.

As the others have said, fear is a huge obstacle. Discomfort is too. Low vision makes the room seem dark and scary. Hearing problems can make the echos in a bathroom scary. If the room is cold, that is a deterrent.

The waterless bathing wipes might be a good compromise between real showers.
They are different than baby wipes and won't irritate or dry skin out.

Maybe bathe her upper half one day and her lower half another day.

Ask her if she wants a family member to help her in there or if she would be more comfortable with a female aid who is not family.

Keep whatever part is not being washed under warm towels - even if they get soaked.

Clean is relative and depends on what's happened that day!

I try to keep my mom stocked with body sprays, deodorant, and powder. Those go a long way to keep things dainty between her weekly baths. She can no longer smell herself, so it's up to the rest of us to make it happen.
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I too, just went thru this with my Mom~ she was afraid.
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I go once a week to help my mom shower. She's too frail at this point to do it on her own (or to be motivated to do it). If I didn't go over, she wouldn't do it either. So maybe offer to help or be there while she does, if she's fearful.
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Peg makes a very good point. The first issue to address is the fear that arises from showering and how to mitigate it. Bathrooms can be dangerous for people with good balance and strength, but that changes when a person becomes elderly and begins to fear accidents in a room which can be hazardous to even strong people.

Lisa, your mother may have a number of concerns, ranging from the issue of embarrassment at being helped in such an intimate task, to fear of strangers, to fear of falling. Try to find out what really is scaring her, but in the meantime, try to figure out a way of keeping her clean without allowing the fears to become overwhelming.

I've also found that backing off on insisting on bathing is the first step to finding out what the underlying fears are. It isn't easy to admit fear of something someone used to be able to do on his/her own.

If she can wash up sitting down, that's a good step forward. A no rinse shampoo helps, as do the bath chairs that slide over into the bathtub so that your mother could sit down outside the tub, slide over, and not have to risk standing up and falling.
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I had a similar problem with my 90 yr old dad... I finally just told him that since he was going out to lunch w/ family every Thursday that Thursday morning would be shower time. I would warn him Wednesday evening and then it was shower time right after breakfast on Thursday... no arguments. He finally explained to me that he had a fear of showering when no one was there. I started coming every Thursday for breakfast to make sure everything happened according to schedule. So it was a combo of figuring out what the fear was, linking it to an event that he wanted to participate in and being available for the shower.
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