How often does a dementia patient NEED to bathe and wash their hair?

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My mother has bathed about twice in the past two weeks and never washed her hair in that time. I just got out and asked her if she would like to take a bath and wash her hair. It turned into a screaming tantrum. She refused to wash her hair and said she would take a bath later, which means she is NOT taking a bath. She goes out into the yard and works around enough that she does need a bath just to at least feel better if not clean but it is like pulling teeth to get her to do it. There is always an excuse of, I'm tired, I'll do it later, I took one yesterday. Washing her hair she says, no I do not wash it in the shower, I wash my hair in the kitchen sink, so I tell her okay lets go and i will help you. That does not work she begins yelling. In reality she DOES wash it in the shower NOT in the kitchen sink. About 40 years ago she washed it in the kitchen sink but never since way back then.

This is an ongoing problem that I have tried to handle every way I can and nothing works. Today I finally told her that if she continued to refuse to bathe and wash her hair, of her own free will, then I will have to hire a home care nurse to come and help her. World War III broke out and i was called every name in the book, and told that "if you even try it, you will find your a--- sitting out in the street looking for a new place to live!"

I do not push her to bathe on a daily basis or even every other day because of her tantrums. I can't take it and neither can my daughter. I don't know that bathing every day is a necessity but honestly can you all give me your opinions on how often she should reasonably be expected to bathe. Prior to the dementia she bathed every single day, not any more.

I am her 24/7 caregiver, daughter and DPOA. I live in her home with my daughter and care for her without any compensation and I actually pay for household expenses.

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Replacing the shower head with a hand held hose is great, and the most simple one with the white flexible hose are easiest to hold and use, rather than the metal hose with larger heads and more settings to spray. That way Mom can spray her own privates though I spray the rest while she washes. One of the principles of this challenge is that dementia patients need cueing way before they need the actual help to do the actions. This was frustrating to me because I am still sure she could do this independently, but she totally needs the cueing for every step along the way. Another thing she often says is "oh I can do this" and what works best is "I don't mind helping" when its obvious she does need the assist such as adjusting the flow or temp. She has to have someone right there the entire time. And it has to end with something she likes such as lotion on her legs, or having her eyebrows drawn on.
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Ok so getting this shower thing down is halfway then the water on she tries to leave neked not even realizing it. So then it getting get in the shower and sat... Then it's gettin her privates cleaned ... Total defiant resistance... help any ideas that are better for this
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My Mom also was reluctant to shower but I believe in honesty and informed her that we humans are stinky creatures and as long as she pees, poops and sweats she needs to shower at least twice a week! She has to be reminded of this but it gets her in the shower. She's adamant though that her hair not get wet, so we compromised and she goes to the beauty shop once a week for a wash and set. This approach has worked for us. Man, I hope when I get old I don't lose the love of my daily shower. It's such a nice way to start the day.
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Twice a week, regardless of whether Mom's washing her hair, i use a dry shampoo. She loves having her hair brushed as the crown of her head itches. [i understand this could be due to neurological changes in general]. i use either Herbal Essences spray-on [wonderful scent] and just brush out the flaking. Her hair smells very fresh, and the loose skin comes out easily. Also, there's a more pricey medical foam shampoo in a pump can, that you just scrub around and wipe out with a dry cloth. Mom's scalp has become a bit too sensitive for that motion, and she tolerates the spraying of Herbal Essences [like a cat, cringes at the sudden motion, despite being prep'd for it]. i'm awfully glad the pharmacist guided me toward the HE product vs. the medical foam. It does a really good job. It's very much worth a try [about $7 a spray bottle] and i hope it helps!
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Most elders, whether or not the have dementia or not should shower or bathe 2 times a week to make sure all the sweat and dirt if off them. I think that's the schedule in the nursing homes as well. If you have a garden tub or lucky enough to have a tub with jets in it, tell her she is getting her "spa" treatment with bubble baths. Sometimes just soaking in soapy water will clean them. Use candles or flameless candles to set the mood and let her soak. You can also use waterless shampoo, or dry shampoo. If she resists the washing of the hair, ask her if you can just brush her hair then. Stand behind her and sprinkle on the dry powder and give her a head massage to work the powder in and brush it out. It helps remove the dandruff, oils and excess dirt if any if there. You can wash the hair this way until her regular "hair appointment" where she will get a full wash and blow dry. My dad tried that on me when he was living with me years ago. He decided one day that he no longer needed a bath or shower because he wasn't sweating any more. Well, he was and I could smell him after several days. I would just tell him "today is shower day" and if I got any flak from him, I would have to call my brother to come help me. Dad always did what my brother told him to do so he would just put him in a plastic chair in the tub and give him the portable shower head, washcloth and soap and told him "either you do it or I'll do it" so he would do it. Once or twice a week is sufficient for older people. They don't work up a sweat like we do when we're younger. I think having the chair in the tub helped a lot because I really think he was worried about falling since he had fallen before. Good luck stressed52, I hope you have found the right timing for your mom and it's working now. It's really like taking care of a 2 year old sometimes isn't it?
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I am grateful when she accepts once or twice a week, and that requires a lot of concessions on the financial end. We have had to hire an outside companion at $30/hr with a 3hr minimum just to get a shower or whirlpool bath done one day, and a trip to the hairdresser another day. She insists on that hairdresser trip even though we call the place "Zina's Zombie hair salon with Marilla the Mortician" because her hair looks so terrible and laquered up. But at least it is washed and she loves that outing, and Mom thinks it looks great!
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We currently have an aide through home health and I learned from her how to quickly bathe mom, out of the shower, in wheelchair or in hospital bed.

TIPS: Use hand towels instead of bath towels. Keep various body parts covered so LO doesn't get cold. Portable heaters are a great help, preferably oscillating heater to avoid direct heat (which is too much). Wash and dry each area instead of waiting to dry after total bath. Keep hand towel in place until ready to wash then dry off and put towel back over area. Gloves diminish your sensitivity to heat and cold. Closely monitor heat level.

MORE TIPS: If in bed, use bath towels from dryer. One under body. One over body. Low lights. Soft music. Talk calmly and slowly. Talk about something else or warn as you touch body depending on LO awareness level and demeanor. Paper bathing dresses or shorts are available online if showering. (run Google search). Shower chair helpful. Use detaching arm, rain shower head if possible (Bed Bath & Beyond). Shower shoes for traction (also BBB).

OPTION # 1 (my preference) = No Rinse Cleaning & Deodorizing Bathing Wipes (soft, pre-moistened cloths provide convenient bathing alternative) (www.norinse.com) = CleanLife Products (800.223.9348). Cloths made with Rayon/Poly mix. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. Aloe Vera Enriched - No Alcohol. UPC # 0 75244 01000 9. Package of 8; heat in microwave 15 seconds then test and heat in 5 to 10 second increments, if needed until appropriate temp or use at room temp; package shows how to use, but general rule = 1 cloth for body quadrant (in order of use): (1) Face (avoid eyes), Neck, Chest (incl boobies) (2) Left Arm (3) Right Arm (4) Perineum = privates = let LO handle if able. (5) Left Leg + Feet (6) Right Leg + Feet (7) Back (8) Buttocks.

ACTIONS: Discard each cloth after bathing designated area. Bada bing - done deal!

OPTION # 2 = Plastic bowl of warm water + body wash and shampoo liquid formula + bath cloth.

ACTIONS: Use above tips. Soak bath cloth. Wring out almost completely. Bathe body quadrants as in Option # 1. Rinse cloth well each time and bath quadrant again. Dry each area.

ADD'L INFO: Watch Teepa Snow videos on bathing. Twice a week is plenty.

SHAMPOO: Soaking wet cloth but not dripping. Soak scalp until wet, but not dripping. Cradle cap - warm to hot, as much as possible. Leave in place. When done with loose hair, use thin gloves. Scrub w/ nails as much as possible to remove cradle cap. Can also use comb to scrub scalp and loosen cradle cap. If LO can tolerate, soak w/ Head & Shoulders instead of bath and shampoo liquid formula. Remember, everything incl scalp is much more tender than yours.

ACTIONS: Wash rest of hair (in quadrants) in same manner. Rinse cloth, soaking wet w/ clear water from 2nd bowl. Once rest of hair is clean, go back to scalp. Use detangling comb to comb out water into towel around neck. Use towel to squeeze and rub dry. Finally, if LO can tolerate, use hair dryer on lowest heat. Stay away from neck + other skin = TENDER.

Hope this has been helpful!!
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I'm on vacation and my sister has taken over for me, keeping an eye on Mom in AL. I'm gone 4 days, and sis goes to see Mom and she promptly collapses and has to be taken to ER. After an all day vigil - they send sis home and the AL calls about 9pm. She is now back in AL - she has a UTI. Not surprising since she doesn't bathe, hasn't showered in years. Apparantly they finally talked her into letting them give her a shower - but, too late - her filthiness (and she was beginning to stink) has resulted in the UTI. Sis went back the next day to check on her and she got us usual ration of complaints - hates it there, wants her own apt, wants to cook her own meals.............sigh................and she is milking it for all its worth - they are bringing her meals to her room until she feels better...........sigh...............I am NOT going home!
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I think this is a big problem for all of Us Caregiver's. Trying to encourage Our Love One to take a shower. Mom is 86 years, and was diagnosed with Al/s 21/2 years ago. Prior to diagnosis Mom bathed six nights a week, and changed Her under clothes every day. Now I'm struggling to get Mom to take one shower in two weeks. I would never force Her, but I try encouraging. It's very embarrassing for Me as many Family members call to visit at the weekends, and of course I'd wish for Mum to look Her brightest and very best. Through My own research I discovered that Alzheimer' Sufferers cannot see water..this may be part of the problem.
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Stressed, moms doc recommended head and shoulders for cradle cap. I used baby oil first and fine tooth comb to loosen. Leave shampoo on head for at least 15 min then rinse. Told to do 2x per week till gone. It was gone after 2 weeks. Good luck.
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