My mother is resisting showers. What can I do? - AgingCare.com

My mother is resisting showers. What can I do?

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It is not unusual for elderly people to resist showers, especially if they have Dementia. If a patient has Alzheimer's Disease they are terrified of water or even crossing a threshold. To prevent extreme anxiety, struggling or even combative behaviour, a stand up "duck bath" or a bath outside of a shower given by a hired Caregiver is much less stressful. In cases of Dementia or just Elderly Resistance, a shower frightens the elderly person due to fear of falling or simply preferring a bath. Bath lifts run by battery will lower & raise a person in & out of the tub. Bathing equipment is available for rent or for sale to insure safety in the shower. Assistance is helpful to calm fears. Hair washing at a Salon once a week is helpful as well. Elderly people tend to have dry skin & itching after a shower can cause resistance as well. Twice a week bathing is certainly acceptable & application of a moisturizing lotion after a bath is necessary. Remember to use no perfumed soaps or shampoos. Schedule a regular day for bathing. Consistency is key for comfort.
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Dear all. Glad to know I'm not alone. Here's something that may give you a laugh. At the doctor's yesterday mum was asked by the very sympathetic doctor if she would consider Meals On Wheels. Mum's reply " Well, I'd love to help out but I'm far too busy". T
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This is my experience - I spoke to an elderly lady about showers, 'I have them myself'. I discovered that when I turned to her wardrobe to get clean clothes out for her, by the time I had turned around to face her, the lady had completely forgotten what we were talking about so agreed to come to the shower, which was already set up, towels, etc. In other words, the lady had memory loss and while it is a sneaky way of getting the job done, it worked!!! Also, most elderly people think they can wash their wash back, they can't. An offer to help wash their back becuase they can't do it themselves, is a good one. I hope this helps, Arlene
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As most of the posters have said, this is a very common problem among dementia/Alzheimer's patients particularly but many non afflicted elderly as well. You have a lot of empathy and company on this site - my 94 year old mother refuses to bathe (says she does the sponge bath thing) but she is anything but fresh smelling. I'm worn out from trying to get her to want to do this for her own well being and dignity, as many others will attest to as well. Perhaps knowing you have so much company will alleviate some of the guilt and/or feelings of needing to make this better for your mother as some things are simply out of our control.
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My Mom is almost 91. I bathe her once a week. She is about 5 feet tall & weighs about 87 lbs. I used to bathe my Dad once a week before he passed on. I am about 4'10" & weigh 126. Both parents got to where they did not want to take baths. My Dad would say no, & then complain thru the whole process, but once done, he felt better. I used to heat up the bathroom w/a portable heater & coming out soaking wet from sweating. For whatever reason they don't like bathing, they still do it very reluctantly. I had to muster up tons of patience & pretend they were not my parents, but my patients. I do not look forward to still doing my Mom, & it's exhausting emotionally, but the alternative is much worse to me. I am constantly using plastic gloves when changing my Mom's underwear between bath days, & I bleach everything. I believe those strangers who get alzheimer patients can do do because they don't take the comments made personally, so I learned not to care about what comes out of their mouth, because they are not the parents I grew up loving. My Mom has become a child again, & lives in her memories of when she was being brought up, so I talk with her as though she is a child, although a child is easier to care for because they are learning, while my Mom is forgetting.
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If your parent has a very poor memory and will forget what you told them within a few hours. It usually works best if shower in the morning before the person (we'll say 'Mom') changes out of their pajamas.
First, get the towels, shampoo,... ready. Second, when Mom is already on the toilet, or removing their pajamas; say "Mom, _________ (a person they would really like to see...like a friend, spouse, pastor,...) is coming see you this afternoon and I know you'd like to look good so we are going to take a quick shower before they get here. At the same time, be helping her remove her clothes. Then continue talking about how great it will be... AS YOU ARE WALKING HER into the shower!
If mom tries to back out once you have her near water... , say "We are already almost done / finished! You are doing great & are being so helpful...".
Keys to success:
THE SHOWER: Have a 'shower chair' (buy one specifically for that purpose) in the shower. Use a shower sprayer that has a LONG flexible hose that's permanently attached to shower spout & that allows you to spray only small targeted areas & have as way to temporarily shut the water off. A bonus is to have a way to hang the 'temporarily shut off shower head' onto shower wall... so water will not spray on you or mom when you set sprayer down when you're washing her hair...
Be prepared by having 2-5 towels, 2-3 washcloths, & soap in place ready to use when needed & water correct temperature. Make actual time in shower QUICK (5 minutes maximum). Simplify the shower process by using only ONE soap that can be used on both body & hair/head.
Washing: 1. Wet one washcloth & give to mom & tell her to wash her own face. 2. As she is doing that, tell her you are going to get her a little wet now to check the water temperature, then you allow very little water to splash onto her arm... to check if water temperature is ok for her. Once she's ok with temperature, then do a quick (10 seconds) pre-rinse to get entire body, except face & hair, wet. 3. Take moms washcloth away & give her a dry washcloth to hold over her eyes, while you then wet hair & quickly wash hair, & behind ears, then rinse it. 4. Pull wet hair back away from 'moms' face & wipe her face / forehead with her washcloth to stop water from getting in her eyes. 5. Put soap on moms washcloth & give it to her & tell her to wash her front / chest / breast. While she's preoccupied, you wet another washcloth & quickly wash her IN THIS ORDER: neck, back (not bottom), chest, under breast, abdomen, arms, armpits, legs, feet, horizontal skin crease between lower abdomen & upper thighs, pubic area (where hair is), perineum (where you urinate / pee from & vaginal area), buttock cheeks, lower buttock & rectum (where stool/bowel movement comes from).
*Rinse washcloth(s) & add more soap to it as needed.
6. Rinse body, with shower head, in same order as above / as you washed body. 7. Turn main water valve off. 8. Quickly give her one towel to wipe her eyes & face. While she's doing that, quickly drape one towel over her back, one towel over chest, one towel or her thighs, & one towel over her hair. Then proceed to dry her hair, then back, chest, abdomen (remember under breast & skin folds), pubic hair, legs & feet. 9. Take towel off her head & wipe off shower floor, where she will be walking out to reduce chances of slipping. 10. Wipe bottoms of her feet with towel. 11. Remove all towels from her body (can leave one on her back if desired). 12. Assist her out of shower & to nearby place to quickly dress.
*The entire time brag on her, thank her, encourage her... Do things that will make her smile (tell jokes, be silly, sing, talk about good old times,... but remember sometimes she may just want it to be quiet). Try to be observant & aware of what is working & what is not & adjust your approach as needed. What works one time might not work another. During 'shower time' keep calm with a cheerful encouraging attitude no matter what happens. Later, reassess how things went, what you can do to make things go better next time...
P.S. The extra washcloths are for if when you wash the rectum area, & there is poop on the washcloth, so instead of trying to rinse it out, you throw it in corner of shower & grab a clean one to continue washing rectum area & repeat that process until all is clean. You'll have time later to collect all wet towels & washcloths & do laundry.
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I take my mom to get her hair washed only at an inexpensvie salon. Also, an occasional pedicure so her feet and legs not only get washed but massaged and moisturized.
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Okay, I want to provide a different perspective. I am over 70, over the last 5 years, I have come to hate showers. The water on my skin is disturbing; tub baths are okay and so are sponge bath.I don't have any form of dementia, My sister who is a bit younger feels the same way. Your mother may not like showering for a very real and valid reason. Encourage your mother to do frequent (daily) and thorough sponge bath supplemented with weekly tub bath. I grew up without showers and we did not take daily baths.
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So good to hear this isn't an uncommon issue for caregivers..My mom was offered a home health aid for assistance and blatantly refused any help in her..She has no dementia at all, is just use to being self sufficient and independent her entire life..Completely unwilling to agree to bathe and wash her hair..We have purchased new clothing to replace the worn, stained, and too small items she has.. Again, she just chooses to wear the shoddy items and makes excuses for not wearing the new items.. She wears diapers, not because she is always incontinent, but because its easier to be prepared..Three UTI's, one putting her in ICU for 4 days septic, and she still don't feel the need to bathe.. Short of having her Dr. intervene at her next appointment, I have no idea what to do..She will only tell him what he wants to hear and not follow through..
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They get afraid to get in the shower. When my Mom started this I would help her with the sponge bath and wash her hair in the kitchen sink. I would set it for her and style it too. You just have to be insistent. I used to tell her she smelled and that usually did the trick. Rub lotion on her and pamper her. When she is clean compliment her and if you have other family there have them do the same. If she has dentures, have her remove them and clean them for her as well. My Mom said she was doing this but was not.
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