If Mom takes a sponge bath twice a week is that good enough hygiene versus a shower twice a week? - AgingCare.com

If Mom takes a sponge bath twice a week is that good enough hygiene versus a shower twice a week?

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She has been diagnosis with Corticobasal Degeneration. And the rare disease is progressing. My mom had a recent fall and is now afraid to take shower standing in the tub. She states that she has a hard time standing for any length of time and is unable to lift her legs into the bath tub. They have a small tub so a shower chair does not fit. She resides with my dad in a rented townhouse.

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KEEP SINGING

In case our experiences might be of use to others, I want to share personal hygiene methods used to care for my 95-year-old mother who has dementia.

In between showers, I rub down her body with Simple brand exfoliating wipes, followed by an all-over lube job with a nice oil such as argan. I especially like L'Oreal "Age Perfect Glow Renewal" because it's absorbed well and has a light scent. Then on Mom's calves and other especially dry spots, I massage in O'Keeffe's Working Hands cream.

No matter what method is used, she complains that she's cold. She also complains that I rub too hard with the exfoliating wipes, but I explain that we have to get the dead skin off so she won't get itchy and that usually satisfies her. Then she complains that the wipes are wet, that she's wet in the shower, that something dry should be used instead. This often escalates to whining and even wailing at which point I gently sing a hymn and that comforts both of us.

Mom stopped showering long ago. In fact, personal hygiene pretty much is a thing of the past for her, a formerly fastidious homemaker. So there are lots of other personal tasks involved on a daily basis, a key one being to clean her hands with sanitizing wipes after she's been to the toilet (on those occasions when she actually uses the facilities) and before meals. She also needs adult pull-on diapers and recently I found (thanks to a nurse telling me about it) a baby wipe warmer which makes my doing that task more pleasant for her.

Mom used to go to her hairdresser once a week for a wash and set. But we had to cancel appointments so often for one reason or another that I had them take her standing date off the books. Now we just go for cuts and perms as needed. For a while, she bent over the bathroom sink so I could wash her hair, but that's become too uncomfortable. Now I do the hair when I shower her and she hates it but it seems the only alternative remaining. In between full washes (which her hairdresser insists should be at least once a week) I use a dry spray shampoo (the Batiste brand suggested by "ferris1") and of course complaints are associated with this practice too.

Perhaps you can see a trend here, about the complaining. Mom has had a habit of negativity as long as I’ve known her. Medications have helped but of course don’t change her basic crabby nature. So it’s not advisable to wait until the impatient patient feels like getting cleaned up and/or gives permission.

Blessings to those who face this challenge. It isn’t easy but is satisfying when Mom is clean and smells good, for as long as that lasts. Good luck and keep singing.
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Since this rare disorder involved muscle coordination, sponge baths are okay unless there is another medical issue you did not discuss. Mental functioning will also be affected and it is degenerative, so taking a shower is the least of her worries. Give her lots of hugs!
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My MIL, who has since passed at age 84, only took sponge bathes for as many years as I knew her.....17?? She survived with it just fine. She was not excessively dirty or smelly and though I thought it was not enough, it's actually better for you to not shower on a daily basis. My FIL with Alzheimer's takes an assisted full shower 2 times per week and that seems to work okay for him too. He's not out running marathons and we wet wipe his privates in between so no rashes or smells. I think you just have to do what's best in each circumstance and let go if preconceived vews on what we it should be, let go of unrealistic expectations and do our best for those we care for.
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There are many styles and sizes of shower benches and chairs on the internet. Can you get the measurement of their tub and do some research?
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There are baby wipe warmers which in theory is a good idea but I have found that the wipes cool down the second you take them from the warmer.

There is no-rinse body cleanser which can be applied to a wipe and used during sponge baths and it can also be used as shampoo. If the hair is very thin and so many elderly women's hair is you can use the no-rinse wash on a washcloth and wipe the hair down with it. Make sure you get the perineal area thoroughly.

A shower bench or chair doesn't have to be completely in the tub. Half of it can be in the tub and the other half outside the tub. You'd need a detachable shower head but it can be done.

Lots of towels to keep mom warm while you're giving her a bath and finish off with lotions and nice, clean jammies.
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Many people are bedridden for months even years for whatever their health situation is, and cannot even sit up, much less stand long enough to be put into a shower, and they get by with sponge baths and that's it, just depends on the quality of the personal care aide really.
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Ask her MD about home health aides, PT or OT to help her.
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If your MOM doesn't have grab bars already installed on the wall and on the side (vertically) on the tub wall - that would be a help. Also there are bath tub seats that EXTEND over the edge and outside the tub - so she can sit down and one at a time lift her legs over the edge of the tub as she slides in to the opening of the tub. She should also have a shower head on a hose. I am an Occupational Therapist and we help patients with these issues - often. Check with your local Occupational Therapist and they can do a home visit and give you advise. Good luck!
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I think you've gotten amazing coaching and ideas here! I recently saw a shower chair that was on a glide - it started over the toilet and then the person would just be slid into position over the tub for a seated shower. Probably pricey, but maybe a medical supply place would rent one?
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There is a wonderful product called ConvaTec Cleansing Foam1; it is a multi-purpose bathe and cleanse perineal cleanser, body wash, shampoo, no rinse, pH Balanced. High foaming, non-aerosol and it is made in the USA! My husband (86) who had Alz. did NOT want to be wet - it seems that is a given in most elderly who are disabled. Our Hospice CNA was wonderful giving him what we called a chair bath as he sat on the toilet seat down. She came 3 times a week. He fussed once in a while, but between us we could calm him and the major fuss was about being wet. She managed to bathe all parts of him and he never developed sores or odor or anything. I tried showering him in the bathtub with a chair and the extended shower head to do just parts at a time, but being wet all over agitated him to the point of me giving in and letting the CNA come and do the bathing. She also helped him get dressed - I had all the clean clothes out and it worked wonderfully. If your local pharmacy does not have this product, they can order it for you - it is 8 fl. oz. and kind of a sea green in color. Cost is approximately $9-12, depending on where you buy it. Also available to order on line. Bless all the caregivers - I do know what you're going through; make sure you tell your loved one you love them as many times a day as you can (even when you don't feel like it). Hugs to all.
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