My Mom will not wash her hair or bathe. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

My Mom will not wash her hair or bathe. Any advice?

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She is 91. She lives next door and believes she bathes and washes her hair!!

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AmyGrace, thank you for your comment. What I find interesting is we're all having similar types of issues with parents staying clean. I did tell Mom the next step would be to have a health aide come in to help her. She doesn't really want that, but I think she would rather that than have me help. She is using the disposable cloths and being cooperative now so I leave well enough alone. I feel for her as she would have never allowed this to happen when she was younger.
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I'm hesitant to suggest washing with a washcloth, then Mom will never get in the washer..
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There are also disposable adult wash clothes that require no rinsing. Elderly people do not need to bathe every day...once a week is good for them and she does not need to do her entire body in one day...upper torso one day and the lower half the next...of course keeping the private parts clean daily is necessary but so much easier with these disposable adult wipes. There is also a dry shampoo that you can have her use for her hair. Good luck and I hope it all works out with less stress.
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My mom, 93, dementia, was very resistant to taking a shower. My sister, with whom she lived for 15 months, became very firm about it and got it done. I have a wonderful walk-in tub, but she was so resistant about using it when she visited me that I let it go rather than spoil the couple of days we had together each month.

So we are all amazed that now in the nursing home she goes willingly off with the aide who come in the take her to the shower! Holy cow!

It may be worthwhile to have a bath aide come in every week or even every other week to bathe her and wash her hair.
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Maybe you can start out small and gradully work up to a full bath. Make it special for her. Start with soaking the feet. Give a nice foot massage. Use a nice smelling lotion. Get a scent she would really like. Bribe her with it and saying the directions say use only after bath or shower. Keep making small strides in being able to wash her body so she can start getting use to water again. Try those bath packs if taking a bath is still a bit much for her.
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Tootsiepie, you are so lucky your mother can be manipulated or reasoned with. My mother is 99. She is impossible. She never misses her weekly appointment to get her hair washed and set, but she hasn't washed or bathed in 6 months. She hasn't showered in years. Why she doesn't smell, we can't figure out. She used to bathe in the sink, because it was always clogged up and greasy - but that stopped months ago. There are no wash cloths around, the soap is the same one she has had for 6 months. She lies and says she bathes, refuses our help, yet the other day she admitted she is dirty. We are at our wits end and have given up. Eventually she will stink and they will kick her out of the facility, then we can get her into assisted living and maybe they can do it. She refuses to let family help, won't let an aide in the door and we might as well try to reason with the doorknob. I just keep taking home her filthy clothes and washing and ironing them.
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My mom is 94, lives with me, and has slight memory loss, but she is nearly blind. We started having issues with not taking a shower a couple of years ago. It was a struggle at first. I didn't want to tell her she smelled, but eventually just had to. Since I became blunt about that, she is better about it. On Friday, I say isn't today bath day? She says yes, I was going to take one today so it becomes her idea. Now, she is afraid of falling, so is taking a sponge bath with me offering a little assistance. I call Friday spa day and we soak her feet and I try to make it a special day for her. As for hair, we get it washed & cut once a month and then use a foamy dry shampoo in between. It works for now until the next thing comes up. Hope this helps in some way.
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I agree with Pam. Also if she doesn't have one already, a rubber shower mat on the bottom of the tub/shower. If there are shower doors, sometimes one can become claustrophobic, that has happened to me :(
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Offer her no choice. Go over there and get it done. Watch the Teepa Snow video on you tube about how to bathe someone with dementia. I'm willing to bet she can't step over the tub wall, can't adjust the water temp and is severely afraid of falling. She will need a shower chair and a hand-held shower at the very minimum. Her MD can order an occupational therapist to help her.
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