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She has arthritis in arms/shoulders bad so is unable to lift arms up very high. So washing her hair is extremely hard. She will not accept help. Rarely will shower. Refused home help care. What should we do?

Buy a lovely bar of wonderful soap that has a scent she’d enjoy. Does she need a shower chair or grab bar? Provide it. Make an appointment at a hairdresser nearby at a mutually convenient time for both of you. Then have a “ spa day”.
I suspect she has been very afraid to bathe or shower because of her limitations. I’ve had to do this myself for my mom it worked! “Let’s wash away all our problems, shall we?” Or “let’s put all this aging stuff on the back burner for a while and have some girl time. My treat!” We tend to forget in our worry/ concern about aging that there is a human being who would not choose these behaviors if she could figure out how not to live this way. Show her that you are willing and available ( Monday and Friday shower days at her place?) Then ice cream or coffee afterwards at a shop? Easing her into having”help” with a sprinkle of companionship. Giving a different kind of value to being clean and refreshed.
Baby steps…
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Reply to Buddycare
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Does mom have any cognitive problems or is the arthritis the only limitation to her bathing?
If mom has no cognitive problems you tell her exactly what you have said here and that she has to properly bathe and if she can not manage to do so herself a bath aide can help.
If mom does have cognitive problems then you are past the point of letting her take care of some of her ADL's (Activities of Daily Living)
And to that point what else might she not be doing properly or thoroughly?
And at this point she no longer as the capacity to "refuse" help as it is necessary.

It may get to the point where you have to tell her that you will not take her out unless she showers. Tell her that this will limit the outings and gatherings with friends and family.

Last resort self neglect is reportable at most State's Elder Abuse hotline number if you want to take it that far.

I am going to assume that you and other family members are "helping" in a variety of ways is many cases this is not good as it gives your LO a false sense of independence that they really do not have. If you and others are "helping" you might want to back off on that so that she realizes how much help she really does need.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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First, you decide who is going to make the decision. Your mother or you. If it's your mother, then let her be. If it's you (as it should be at this point), then you make it happen.

Personal hygiene is a non-negotiable. It's unhealthy. And no one wants to be around someone who smells bad.

Your mother is going to have to accept help in order to maintain personal hygiene if she cannot/will not do it herself.

I shower my mother every Saturday. (Used to be twice a week but it just got to be too much and she doesn't go anywhere anyway.)

My mother does not have a voice or a choice in the matter. I get her up and walk her to the shower and sit her down and get it all done from head to toe. Sometimes she gets mad and stays mad for a couple of hours, but I don't care.

This is not a democracy - it's a dictatorship and I'm the dictator.
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Reply to southiebella
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Isthisrealyreal Jun 23, 2024
You go girl!!!

We did the same with my granny, just get it done she will get over it.
(3)
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That's a tough one, aging people can get so stubborn .

I am curious how old your mom is, and if she may have some dementia going on.

More than likely she is scared of falling in the shower. Do you have a shower chair for her? And hand rails. Is it a walkin or tub. Tubs are really hard for most older people.

As for you question on how to bring up the subject. I would probably start small, Hey mom maybe we could get you one of these shower chairs for you. Instead of coming out and saying, you Need a shower. Or telling her maybe I can come over and wash your sheets while you take a shower. Don't make it sound like a question, just this is what we are doing.

Best of luck, hope that was a little bit helpful
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Reply to Anxietynacy
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Hello, I'm a 79 year old, retired RN with a few mobility problems, stiffness and arthritis. Taking a shower was terrifying for me, until I ordered a stable shower chair with arms. Already had a nice shower "hose" that comes off the wall, so I can sit or stand and feel safe. We have grab rails wrapping around the inside of the shower stall, also. NEVER take a shower when alone in the house and let folks know I'm about to take a shower.
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Reply to Pruney77
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TouchMatters Jun 23, 2024
thank you Prune-y. I really appreciate you'r response.
(1)
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I think this is then more than a hygiene problem?
Does your mother have dementia?
It is very common for those with dementia to resist showers.

If you are speaking of someone rational and without any dementia and this is a NEW problem, then more is going on than you realize.

As to a rational person with poor hygiene the only way is to sit them down and tell them what you see and smell and that it isn't acceptable. And then ask what ways would be best to address it. She may have now to be accompanied out to have her hair done one a week. She may need a hand held shower attachment. She may require an aid to help with showers.

What more is going on that worries you? Is she able to keep up living alone or with hubby with arthritis this severe?
Is it time to discuss possible placement needs?
Has she discussed physical therapy with her doctor; this is very helpful in maintaining full range of motion in a rational elder.

Good luck.
Remember, the more you tell us about what you're dealing with, the more we can try to help you.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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Cconversations about it with our relative were not helpful. The best success was starting a set routine. For example: showers on Mondays, Thursdays-----with Mondays being hair wash day.
It isn't ideal to only shower 2xs per week. But, it was the best that we could get done.
If hair washing was resisted, then to the salon. I took her to a salon that was geared for seniors, low key----not all high tech. She ended up really enjoying it
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Reply to Scooter2023
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This is perhaps BOTH dementia and depression.
A conversation may not - likely won't help.
It is beyond reasoning / logic (which is both dementia and depression).

You do not ask her if she wants 'home help care.' You get it and introduce a person to her as 'my friend xxx' -

Where does she live?
If she still legally manages her own life, she is in control of what she does. You can do what you can although there is a point of needing to accept she will do what she wants.

Are you your POA or manage any of her finances, etc. ?

* Is assisted living needed
* Medication management
* Dementia assessment
* Dry Shampoo
* Bed baths?

Talk to her MD.
Get legal matters in order.
Don't ask for permission to do what is needed (as you can re hygiene).
Many people w dementia do not want to shower or take care of themselves hygiene-wise. You do what you can although you take 'more' control in a way that she will allow it. Yes, this is tricky.

You listen, offer compassion/ate responses.
You also control the situation for her well-being as best you can.

She will resist. That is normal and to be expected. The key is how you manage it. "Try" not to argue as this is a NO win-win. You want to keep her calm as well as clean.

Gena / Touch Matters
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Reply to TouchMatters
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I started this conversation with Mom when she was having issues standing in the shower . We bought her a shower chair and she showered with dad for a while . She said he took too long so I started showering with her once a week , the other days she washes her self up with wipes . When we shower she sits in the chair in front of me and I wash her hair - she does everything else , ill say time to clean the girly parts . We talk and I ask her if she ever did this with her mom , I tell her that I love washing her beautiful long hair and that someday I will miss this when she’s gone . When I get push back about getting in the shower I let her know this is because we don't want her to be unhealthy and a UTI could kill her at this age . I don’t threaten or try to manipulate my Mom . She is a woman of a certain age and I won’t talk down to her . I find with my Mom that letting her take a minute to make the decision herself works best . And regarding my Dad - if he smells I’ll say you should shower - you smell and you want to get in before mom and I use the water up . It usually works . Good luck with your Mom .
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Reply to ChristineS
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Just to give a different slant, I think many people think that ‘correct’ to aim for, is a daily shower or bath and a weekly hair wash. This is difficult to do for the elderly, but is also a fairly recent expectation.

A hundred years ago many people in our countries had one bath a week, on Saturday night in front of the fire to be clean for Church on Sunday. Face (plus armpits and crutch if you were keen) in the meantime, and ‘don’t forget to wash behind your ears’. It amuses me to see movies set in that time, where the poor have dirty faces, when that was the only bit of them that was actually clean.

I have long hair pinned up all the time, and at present I am washing my hair every two to three weeks. That’s when my scalp feels like it needs a wash. My hair doesn’t really show it.

For me, the issue is smell and safety. A cloth wipe of the genital area IS important, and smell matters too. The rest of it, perhaps not. Perhaps you ‘start a conversation’ by talking about history and what really matters.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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