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My mom is terrified of taking a shower. She lives in a great memory care unit and has loving caretakers but over the past few months will not take a shower. I helped with the shower last and she prayed the whole time that she could get through her shower! Broke my heart!! Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can get through this. Unfortunately there are no bath tubs to see if that would work. Thank you!

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LovingMom, your mother is giving you signals but you're not heeding them. She DOESN'T want to go into the shower. Insisting that she does is only going to frustrate both of you, aggravate her, and complicate the problem.

Your title post indicates that she's "terrified" of getting into the shower. That determination should be a clue that forcing her into the shower is not the solution. Put yourself in her place; would you want be forced into action that "terrifies" you?

Caregiving is an ongoing learning and adapting process. Ask the aides to explain no rinse and dry shampoo products to you.
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One of the main problems I am having at the moment is even getting her to enter the shower. I am looking at getting a portable tub. I am still trying to get her into the shower but it is small and could be a big part of the problem too
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My Mom never liked showers, ever. They made her dizzy and water on her face and head made her feel she couldn't breath. She felt like she was drowning.

Does the facility have a hair salon? Maybe she could tolerate getting her hair washed there, plus a set and comb out, of course.

At least that might help some.
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My mom is having the same problem in the nursing home. She says the water gets too hot. She stays cold a lot. She is now refusing showers. I thought about asking if it would be okay for me to give them to her.
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Just a thought here. There is a handheld type of shower that can be height adjustable. Maybe adjusting it lower so that it sprays her body lower and adjust the volume of the spray so the pressure is minimal might help.
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I tried a few suggestions Tuesday. She won't even step one foot into the shower! I had to wash her up in the bathroom and then tried to wash her hair in the sink (she called me every name in the book!). So, next I am going to try a tub of water. Unfortunately the facility does not have any bath tubs, so have to bring my own. I did give this some thought about a facility not have a bathtub. As a small child we are afraid of the shower so that is why we usually take baths!
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With a hand held shower, start with spraying her feet with the water a little warmer than the her skin, give her a wash cloth Slowly go up her legs to her knees. She may put the wash cloth out and get it wet. She then may wash her face. Elders with dementia become afraid of water. As children they most likely took baths. That's always seemed to work. Don't forget to heat the bathroom well ;
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You might try with her just sitting in the shower on the chair. Even clothed. Then naked with a basin of water. See whats bugging her. One of the people above wrote about the concentration camps. Even if she isnt a surviver she might have that on her mind. My Mom who is Jewish but was in the US the entire war. She was thinking she was from Poland the other night. Remembering a movie we saw ages ago..where the father told the little girl to put on her winter shoes because even though it was summer she might need them later. She thought she was the little girl . I had to reminder that she wasnt polish and wasnt in europe during the war
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wonderful suggestions!! Mom does sit on a shower chair but thinking I am going to try some kind of plastic, deep basin for her to wash in. The thought went through my mind that as a child we tend to take baths until we were not so afraid of the falling water in a shower. She just may be at the bathing stage. I wish so much there was a walk in bath tub where she is at. I did find that when I am there she endures it, otherwise fights the aides.
thanks again for great thoughts!
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I went thru this with Dad in Memory Care too. I spoke with the director, and we found that it was just finding the right person -- the one that dad trusted completely. He was a big guy, and there was a larger woman there who just had a knack for mothering and cooing over him as she took care of him. So we scheduled his showers around her work schedule so that she would always be assigned to him.
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She may be cold. Mom complained about it so I put a little heater in the bathroom to heat it up. Going with the little tub suggestion. Can you use one with soapy water. Wash her down in the shower, replace with clean water and rinse her off. Sorry, but I would never pour water over some ones head. I do agree that the shower stream may hurt if the pressure is too much.
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My wife is not afraid of the shower but she does enjoy sitting in the tub and pouring the water over her body and scrubbing. I just have difficulty getting her to use soap.

I have heard of this before and wondered if it could possibly similar to the brain condition in some rabid animals. NOT to imply anyone here has rabies but mearly a similar area of the brain becoming affected by dementia.
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Try and figure out exactly what is distressing her if you can. Have her seated on a shower chair with arms if possible so she feels secure. I would try filling a basin with soapy water and using that to wash, keeping her wrapped in towels to preserve her modesty and to help keep her warm (it is surprising how drafty even a warm room can feel when you are wet and there is no shower curtain to hold in the warmth) and then just use the hand held shower to rinse off, minimizing the time she needs to be uncovered and completely wet.
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Forget about standing showers and move to sit down bathing. If she's that terrified, I wouldn't push the issue. Find a better alternative, and there are some. You can work with the aides who can help with the change to more safer cleanliness.

I'm assuming there's a shower seat in the shower area and that she can sit down? How does she get into the area? With a walker? Wheelchair? Try bringing her in a wheelchair, remove one of the arms and let her slide onto the shower bench, while bracing it yourself so that it doesn't move.

(There may be locking shower chairs; I haven't seen any but I would think that a sturdy shower chair would provide more stability and no slippage.)

If she's afraid of sliding onto the shower bench, forget that and move on to no rinse products. She can get cleaned up in her room and won't even need to go into the bathroom.

These no rinse products are used in hospitals and various care facilities. To my surprise, I actually did feel cleaner when I took a no rinse shower and shampoo while in a hospital for an appendectomy.

The products are expensive; but they're worth it if they avoid the terror of falling in a shower stall. I found some at Walgreen's.

They also don't require complete clothing removal; one body part can be washed while the remaining parts are kept warm. I think the complete disrobing as well as the chill are two of the main factors in showering, plus the larger and overwhelming issue of falling.

You can also make this a special event - play her favorite CD music, follow up with some pure lotions, friendly chatting, or something that makes her feel special. Turn it from a terrifying to a gratifying experience. Think of something you can do or give to her as a reward for her bravery, which in fact it is - I think older people with limited mobility can be terrified of showers, and bathrooms can in fact be dangerous areas.

A former poster, Maggie Marshall, made some good suggestions on bathing techniques and tricks. I couldn't find that particular thread right now, but you can use the search box and search on the terms "alternatves to bathing", "no rinse bathing", topics like that. I've found some for you:

These are some hits you can check out:

https://www.agingcare.com/search.aspx?searchterm=dry+rinse+products

https://www.agingcare.com/search.aspx?searchterm=bathing+alternatives

https://www.agingcare.com/search.aspx?searchterm=no+rinse+bathing
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Has your Mom ever fallen in the shower in the past? Does she have to stand to use this shower or can she sit on a stool during the shower? As Mellipeep asked, is there a hand held shower head available or is the only shower available a fixed one on the wall?

Is your Mom's skin very sensitive? Maybe it hurts when the forceful water hits her skin. Is the shower stall small in size? My Mom used to sit on a stool outside of the shower stall and put her feet in the stall and get her washcloth wet from the water falling from the shower head. My Mom had trouble using a hand held shower head.

Since your Mom lives in a Memory Care Unit, then I am wondering if her dementia is preventing her from understanding what exactly is going on when she is in the shower and whether that is what is causing her to be afraid of showers.

You and the nursing staff are going to have to get creative as to different ways to help your Mom take a bath. Could you put a large plastic storage tub on the floor in the shower stall, let your Mom put her feet in the water in the storage tub and dip her washcloth into the storage tub? Maybe use large plastic pitchers and pour water over her head and body during her bath instead of using shower head.

Many years ago when WWII veterans and survivors of the concentration camps were in USA nursing homes, we sometimes had residents who refused showers. These residents were usually Jewish descent who as a child (or young adult) had been in a concentration camp and saw and heard their friends and families die in the showers when the Nazis pumped poisonous gas into the shower rooms killing those inside. These people would only take tub baths and we respected their wishes and never made it an issue about refusing a shower bath. Is your Mom of Jewish descent? Does she have relatives who died in a shower room gassed by the Nazis? Just a thought.

Good Luck at finding a way to get your Mom to take a bath.
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Hi, does she have a hand held shower head?
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