Any suggestions to get Mom to allow the aides to assist her while showering? - AgingCare.com

Any suggestions to get Mom to allow the aides to assist her while showering?

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My mother has lived in assisted living for 5 yrs. The aides give residents two showers a week but she refuses help. They are very kind but my mother won't comply. I think the only way to solve this is to tell her that as so many residents have fallen in the shower it's now the facility's rule that everyone has assistance with showering. Any suggestions?

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Hi Veronica91:

My mother was living in her own home of 40 years prior to the move. The no showers isn't new. She never, ever took showers. She always took a bath once a week and washed up everyday.

The staff has been diligent about checking in on her in the morning during her wash up to check her skin - something she doesn't appreciate one bit. Lol! But I certainly do. And she definitely changes clothes. The only problem we've had there is that she finds the new pajama pants I bought her quite comfortable and has decided to add those to her day wardrobe. Not a problem, but it makes me smile.

The staff and I have had a conversation about trying to get her to take a bath in a tub they have available. We last agreed to give it another month of settling in and trying for a shower, with plans to revisit at our next family care meeting. That is coming up in a few weeks.

Thanks for the question and concern. I appreciate hearing from others as I negotiate this brave new world with my mom. :-)
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TJLang, You say your mother is in dementia care was she in AL before that and is this a new behavior since the move?
You also note that she washes herself daily and changes her clothes. Are you personally satisfied she actually does this?
More important than bathing is for someone to check her skin so that any sore. rashes etc can be dealt with. This can be done sometime when she is minimally dressed such as in her night gown so she does not have to be stripped naked for the whole world to see.
I realize showers are much quicker and easier than getting someone in a bath. If her memory care does have a tub but she can't get in perhaps they could lower her in with a hoist so she can enjoy an occasional soak. Give her some bubbles if privacy is a big issue
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My mother will have been in a dementia care unit for 2 months on January 30th. She has refused to take a shower and doesn't understand why the people keep asking. She washes herself everyday and has no body odor. I ended up explaining that my mother has NEVER taken a shower. She was a bath person, as I believe many of her generation are. Unless hygiene and odor become a problem, I think leaving them to their privacy and dignity is best. So much has already been taken away.
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Oh, gosh. This is one of my biggest problems with my mother and one which I've tried the most to work with her on. The AL she lives in has some very persuasive aides and on occasion the Director of Nursing has come with one of them to add a little additional "persuasion" when too much time goes by and mom simply will not cooperate. I believe they have her complying at least a couple of times a month at this point but truthfully I've come to the point where I can't let myself become obsessed with the issue. The reality is mom is 94 and European and, of course, bathing on a regular basis wasn't such a big deal the way she grew up. Sponge baths, etc. were the norm and she seems to do well with cleansing cloths such that, while she may not smell "fresh", at least she doesn't stink. Her skin is very dry, though, so I and the aides try to moisturize as much as possible without making it seem like this is the way it should be. You have all of my empathy and sending hugs for patience and fortitude.
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Mom showered today! After more than a month! The towel wrap during the shower (sitting on the shower chair) worked and it kept her dignity and temperature warm during the process! After the shower she announced "I can't imagine why people don't want to shower when it feels so good!". The aide and I had to smother our laughter. Dementia is full of twists and turns! BTW: As others have indicated, an elderly person can be kept reasonably clean with sponge baths, clean clothes, etc. Just because an elderly person does not shower does not mean you can't get near them because of the smell (e.g. losing ones cookies) as has been suggested here. There are lots of people in this world that don't get to shower regularly, including some of our military personnel. Mom does feel better after a shower (she just doesn't remember that until she has just had one), and it is good for cutting down on the potential for infections (e.g. UTIs, etc.).
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Thank you GodsAnointed your answer is the best! My mother doesn't have body odor and she changes her under garments and clothes daily. I was over reacting to the fact that I didn't think she was showering properly. Thank you for your response.
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#1 Elders need to bathe else someone can't get near them to tend to their needs without "losing their cookies," e.g. vomiting.
#2 When I get up in age, will I really give a darn about someone seeing my naked body?
#3 No, I will be REALLY glad to have someone bathe me because I have lost that skill.
#4 Modesty will have left the building!
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Yes, it sounds like she may need help from your description. However, I think you may be in for a little bit of a fight on this one. I'm not sure but I kind of suspect it. Anytime you have freedom and independence, you really want to do everything for yourself. Every responsible adult can understand this. However, in some cases where dementia and even Alzheimer's is involved, it just seems like they still don't want to give up their freedom and independence, and I don't blame them. However, I'm just not sure there's going to be any easy way to get her to accept help bathing, which is why I strongly suspect you may be in for a big fight if she happens to be combative. Even my foster dad who's in the Alzheimer's ward is very combative because he doesn't really want to be there or have all those people around him. He'd really rather be home, and anyone can understand. However, any time you're dealing with a demented person, there's going to be some level of difficulty, especially as it progresses and they become physically combative. The patient probably needs to be in a facility that can offer more help than assisted-living can offer. I know sometimes this is necessary, but in other non-demented patients, independent living is still possible as long as they can still function as my grandpa figure did and his kids eventually wouldn't let him drive anymore and they most likely came around him to help him and eventually got him a hospital bed. Sometimes as we age a little extra help is necessary depending on the person's needs. Some people do need a POA whereas others need a guardian. Not every aging person needs either, Grandpa didn't. He actually amazed me and even he was sharp into his old age. I can only hope that when he passed, it was peaceful and painless.
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Hi God'sAnointed - I agree with giving mom ber independence, space and dignity. But now, I wish mom could still shower herself. Unfortunately, she requires 24/7 care with bathing and toileting, food, etc. At 94 having gone through the mill, her dementia is a significant impediment, to say nothing of safety issues. If mom started at ther feet, by the time she got to her knees she would have forgotten she washed her feet. Poor thing - it is sad - so trying to find ways to make it as comfortable as possible for her and wasy to give her incentives and perks to make showering something which has good connotations. Oh well! Hoping tomorrow will turn out to be a shower day :)
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One thing to remember is people are usually self-conscious and don't want strangers seeing them undressed. If your mom is still able to bathe herself and don't force her to let strangers around her if she's undressed, this will only cause further issues including her not wanting to undress at all for fear someone will take advantage of her. Definitely don't force this on her unless you want a bigger fight and more problems. As long as she still able to bathe herself then let her bathe herself
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