How do you get Mom to take a shower once in a while?

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Of all of the challenges that go with care giving, the most difficult one for me is to convince my 89 year old mother that she is beginning to exude an unsanitary odor from profuse sweating and from just not bathing or showering. I have had to resort to giving her sponge baths on a bath chair in her bathroom, but I can not convince her to get into the bath tub. I can't afford to put a walk in tub in her bathroom but ohhhh how much easier it probably would be. She tells me she doesn't have an odor and that it is my imagination. My soon to be daughter in law was trying to be polite when she stated she smelled urine on my mother's blanket and that it must have been the dog. Further, she will not tolerate a CNA coming to the house to bathe her. This also goes along with not allowing me to wash her hair. She tells me she is in too much pain and she would prefer to have it done professionally. If anyone knows a national hairstylist company that will come to the home and wash, blow dry older people's hair, please let me know how to contact in my area. Thank you as always for your resourceful answers and kind replies. This website has helped me so much. God bless all of you caregiver warriors out there.

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A team of wild horses couldn't drag mom into the shower or tub. I have a caregiver come in once a week to give her a thorough sponge bath at the kitchen sink. She has no choice in this matter.

It costs $30. The bathroom is crowded and not handy. The kitchen sink allows mom to sit in her wheelchair most of the time, and then stand (with the aid of the counter) so she can get the rest of her washed.

The aid uses a turkish towel around her neck and a very wet washcloth to wash her hair. Works great.

Last time the lady was here, mom refused to stand up to get completely washed. I came in and tried to talk her into it . . . then played the guilt card . . . then, finally, said, "Okay, mom. You don't have to have it washed now. Tom'll do it when he gets home." Bingo!

Water temperature is critical to mom. Too hot; too cold; even too wet! But eventually it gets done. The aid lotions and powders her up, of course changes all of her clothing, and in 15 minutes? She's squeaky clean.

Hope something here helps.

Long story short: mom has no choice in this particular matter. I give her as many choices as I can in her narrow little life, but bathing? Not one of them.
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I'm surprised to read so many comments that make it sound easy to give your parent a shower or a bath. My mother is 91. There is no way on earth that she would EVER let one of her children help her bathe or shower. We didn't realize that she was only giving herself sponge baths until she had to start taking diuretics. Now, she smells like urine and so does her entire apartment. My brother has grudgingly volunteered to bring up the subject today. She refuses to have any sort of aide come in except for a retired nurse who sits and watches soap operas with her and that's about it.
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There have been tons of threads on this topic, as this is a common problem with the elderly. Your mom's sense of smell is probably gone, so she can't smell herself, so she doesn't understand the fuss. And her cognitive skills have probably declined too, so she doesn't connect not bathing with smelling and unpleasantness.

One thing you might be able to afford is a bath tub cut-out, if your mom is afraid of getting into a tub. My mom lives in independent living and has one in her tub. So she can step in and sit on the bench that I put in. I also have a handheld shower head that attaches to the faucet. If you just google "bath tub cutout" you'll see links and kits and how to do it.

Today is our bath day and every time I help her, she sits there with the warm water running over her saying how great it feels. So if you can get your mom to take a good "shower" and hair wash, she might really appreciate it.

I saw on your profile you talked about your mom's cocktail dresses. So at one point, she must have enjoyed dressing up. After my mom's shower, we also put on powder, cologne and clean clothes of course and make it quite the event. She feels great. When she was feeling worse physically, it was a fight to get her started, but she always felt good afterwards.

So maybe try appealing to your mom's vanity to see if that helps? Good luck and keep us posted.
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