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She's in a wheelchair and has severe balance issues and spasticity in one leg. I have a good shower chair, but she is exhausted and stressed when we try to shower her. I am too. Can I bathe her using sponge baths? I appreciate the support and encouragement I get on this site. Thank you.

hire someone to come in and bath her. check with the office of aging for places that will handle that type of thing. we did it for my father. honestly she shouldn't be doing it even on shower chair......when my mom needed help with showering, i had a girl come in 2 times a week and mom said on a type of kitchen chair with towel under her, and the girl washed her with soap and washcloth and another to wipe off the soap......it worked well.
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Reply to wolflover451
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Hi there. I can certainly relate and is your shower seat an actual bench that spans over the Tub rim? If not I would recommend you get an extended tub bench and place a towel on it so that when you transfer her onto it you can help slide her over if need be. Hope this helps from Emily Rees OT
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Reply to YlimeS
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I've had several major surgeries since 2009 and sponge baths were the norm for me for 6-8 weeks at a time after each one. The pre-wet disposables they had me use in the hospital were very useful and I felt clean and refreshed after using them. I also had to use the hair cleaning cap for a while. It doesn't work as good as a good shampoo but, until I was able to lean over a sink, they were a God send.

There are products in the pharmaceutical sections of your store that can be used on a wet cloth with no rinsing also. One my neighbor got for me left me feeling clean and lotioned. It was a foam product and I loved it.
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Reply to cherokeewaha
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Imho, your mother can be bathed OUTSIDE the tub/shower via a small container of warm, soapy water. When using this method, make sure that you do it in stages, e.g. have her disrobe in stages and towel dry that portion first until all clean.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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My Senior Adult Day Center has a walk on bathtub/shower combo that we are allowed to use when we want. It's like a spa day. These Respite Centers can be a Godsend.
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NeedHelpWithMom Jun 24, 2021
How lovely for people who are able to do something like this. For those who have severe mobility issues like my mom did with Parkinson’s disease, it wouldn’t have been feasible. I hope your mom will be able to continue this. Mom would tell me that she missed soaking in a warm tub. At the end of her life, sponge baths were the only option.
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Of course, you can give her sponge baths. There's a great book called "Bathing without a Battle" by Joanne Rader and co-authors, all experts in eldercare. They include sponge baths as equally effective to a shower. To verify this, they collaborated with the FDA to conduct a scientific trial, which showed no detectable difference.
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Reply to DrLokvig
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As several have mentioned bed baths work. My wife has had nothing but bed baths for almost a year now.

Some aides are much better at this than others. I help them with her baths most days unless I am out of the home.

I have disposable pads under her fitted sheet to keep the foam mattress topper dry. She cannot stand the mattress covers that are waterproof.

I have washable chucks under her at all times. I have extra large bath towels that cover her during bathing so she doesn't get cold.

She is thoroughly most days. I have "no rinse" shampoo caps and "no rinse shampoo. Sometimes one of the aides will use water and regular shampoo to wash her hair while in her reclining wheel chair.

Since she is incontinent Xs 2 and cannot transfer to a potty chair or commode and is in diapers, cleaning her private areas after every change is the most important part of her hygiene routine IMO. This also helps reduce the number of UTIs and rashes in that area.
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RedVanAnnie Jun 24, 2021
You sound like a Prince of a caregiver. How wonderful for your wife to have such an attentive and loving husband. Your post here warms my heart.
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Yes! Sponge baths work. You might consider a bidet attachment to the toilet to help with keeping her bottom clean. Consider using dry shampoos most of the time and occasional shampoos in the kitchen or bathroom sink.
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Reply to Taarna
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My DH has been using Scrubzz sponges for awhile. https://scrubzz.com/ so wonderful. Contain antibacterial soap with no rinsing needed. Just suds it up with water then wash and dry with towel then toss it. (I found you can re-suds if feels dry during bath.)
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Reply to LuvrOfCmasMusic
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As she should be, contact a home health company and schedule bed baths. There are probably many hygiene issues needed that you may or may not know about. They use whatever kind of soap you choose, they can wash hair and lotion.
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Reply to AT1234
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Just read a book by two people who in their 50s walked a 700 mile path in England. They were camping in a tent and carrying basically their life belongings. There were few places they could afford to take showers. You can imagine how grueling the walk. So sponge baths were it. Yes, sponge baths are sufficient. Poor balance in a shower is a danger, but helped by that good shower chair. If she will allow you to be there and help it is more doable but not without a big mess and a lot of danger.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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Try bed/ sponge baths most days, and one good shower/ bath a week; ask for other help on that day.
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Reply to Rireland77
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The best money I ever spent was for a bath lift chair. It lowers the person all the way down in to the tub to take a real bath. Sitting in the water really does help to clean all the personal areas. The person is not sitting up high on a regular bath chair which makes them feel cold while getting a 'shower-off' bath. My mother really enjoys bath time again. (I also have jacuzzi jets in the tub, so that helps, too).

As I raise the chair up at end of bath, I rinse her off with shower nozzle and wash her hair. Bring the chair all the way up and out of the tub to dry her, the hair (get it fixes), and then take her to the bedroom to dress.

Look up Pro Bath Chair Lift to see a picture of it. I installed it myself with very little assistance from others. If you're interested you can call Ms Beckel 509-630-9571. I have been one happy customer with my purchase.
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Reply to my2cents
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cwillie Jun 21, 2021
That looks like a nifty gadget my2cents, would you mind sharing the approximate cost with us?
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I don't blame for being fearful. I sponge bathe my mother every single day. I stopped giving her showers about few years ago. I use two big basins, one with honest soap and the other plain rinse water. I wash her from head to toe and she is probably cleaner than a shower. I powder her after her bath. A few reasons I gave up her showers, her legs are very weak and one time I went to get something in her room and niece was putting her shoes on and not paying attention and I noticed my mom bending over the side almost hitting the floor. She had an expensive cushioned shower chair with siderails. That was it for showers. Be safe and I would give her a sponge bath.
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seaglass5 Jun 19, 2021
thank you for your reassuring response
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I was going to type out ways to make the shower safer (and include Mom in on the recommendations), but mulling her issues, particularly severe balance issues, I deleted them. It would only take one instant to cause severe harm to her or to you.

Focusing on the sponge baths is certainly the safest and easiest way. For good tips, lists of supplies, and methods to make it easy for you and safe and protective of your mom, see here on our Aging Care forum, a topic of "Bathing Older Adults". There are MANY threads that should help you.
https://www.agingcare.com/topics/93/bathing

You can also check YouTube for "giving sponge baths" or check out the library for CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) manuals.
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Reply to MountainMoose
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seaglass5 Jun 19, 2021
Thanks so much. Very helpful. I'll check out the resources. I always feel like I need to figure these things out myself. It doesn't occur to me to ask for help. I'm glad I did.
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Of course you can bathe her with a sponge bath. My husband who was completely bedridden for the last 22 months of his life, received only sponge baths until he died. They will be much easier than trying to get her in and out of the shower, with her being so unsteady.
You could put all the needed equipment in her shower(bars, benches, etc.)but that won't make her feel secure at this stage, I don't believe.
You can also buy the waterless shampoo and conditioner caps, so you can wash her hair as needed. You can buy them at Walmart.com or Amazon. They also make extra large body wipes, that you can use in between her sponge baths.
Just make sure if you're bathing her in her bed, that you're putting towels down around her as to not get the bedding wet.
I think in the long run, sponge baths will make you both feel much more comfortable and less stressed. Best wishes.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
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seaglass5 Jun 19, 2021
Thank you so much for your thoughtful answer. I just needed reassurance and encouragement to go the sponge bath route. You've given me both.
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A good shower chair - is that one fixed in the shower, that she transfers to, or a wheeled commode so she can be pushed into position while she's sitting on it?

If it's the former, try the latter.
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