Can a nursing home legally force an Alzheimer's patient to bathe?

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No, a rest home cannot legally force a resident to have a shower. However, in the interests of the resident concerned, it is in their best interest to do so. Elderly people deserve to be clean and wear clean clothes, even if it takes a lot of convincing from the staff. Some elderly people don't care if they smell, or are offensive to others, or have been in the same clothes for a week. This is when the staff step in. I hope this helps, Arlene Hutcheon
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My mom after living in a very abusive situation.removed by adult protective services ward of the state of Florida dad passed about a month later .Mom. Can bear any weight they would sponge baths her .One on each side.state homes very understaffed. Moved her to Ohio in the ritz of nh.still never wanted a shower have schedule 2 days per week .She finally said she wanted morning they arranged that. Moved to private room they once again arranged schedule still very reluctant.after moved to her permanent room would take shower on arranged days she is in wheelchair all the time. Aids are always on schedule so they only have alloted time used highjacked shower chair. Some aides better than others .They rotate Hall's e every two weeks. Now hospice are involved aids comes three times a week shower on Tuesday and Friday visits o. Thursdays the difference is unbelievable! That aids only has the time to be with her.sadd that she is declining but worth it to see her clean. Now that am caregiver I would even pay for someone trained. Still hard for mom as oxygen must be removed but a godsend. Ask facility for help no asking resident just say today is shower day. I always have her own clean sheets ready. It is do able.
Sorry for the run on and on post.my 59 year old brother just passed from massive heart attack. She is heart broken as well as I his wife daughters etc but I do feel very blessed that I have this time with her as I believe she was probably not bathed in years when living with my evil sister. But very worth a trained professional. Once again sorry for run on .Good for circulation UTI I know that warm water feels great!!!!



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Any skilled nursing medical professional knows that the skin is the largest organ in the body and as such, must be kept clean, else infection and a whole host other problems could set in.
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It might have something to do with a fear of falling, or not liking the caregiver who is giving the bath. I never had a problem with my mom, or my friend Twyla who I played CNA to, but now that Twyla is in a care facility she is afraid of the staff who giver her her showers. I bet I could go and do it and she would be happy to let me, but I am now a two hour drive away. I used to give a bed bath to an old man (101) and if he didn't want to do something I would just rub his back and then he would let me do whatever it is I needed to do, but some of the other caregivers would cause him to put up a fight. Try bribery or something.
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'There is nothing illegal about not bathing and no one can force anyone to bathe legally because it is not against the law.'

Yes, there is absolutely everything wrong with a client NOT being cleaned.
Wash cloth baths, or bedsides baths; gentle touch and kind touch gentle words go a long way even if the bath takes a long time. Medication might
have to be considered when all else has failed IF the client is combative a danger to the client (being combative) and to the staff. There is an abuse law about a client being dirty and not bathing.
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When my friend with frontal temporal dementia and living in a memory care apartment was incontinent and needed cleaning, she began to resist that, not letting anyone work with her. Obviously, that could not be ignored. It was unsafe and smelly. They recommended I take her to a geri-psych ward at a near-by hospital to find an anti-psychotic drug that would calm her without doping her up. That was the answer. It took 3 1/2 weeks to find the proper medication, dosage, and timing, but she was a happy camper then and cooperative until she passed on. Such resistance is often a part of the dementia process. The trick is to find a way to get the person clean without a lot of struggle or force involved. My friend's husband resists the suggestions about showering, too, thinking he already has, but gets himself clean someway. For many years he could not step into the tub due to a bad hip and just stood with a wash cloth in front of the sink to clean himself. I suspect he still does that even though he has a walk-in shower now.   The staff does monitor whether he smells or not, but doesn't bring up the issue if there is no reason to. Everyone is happier in the process. As long as the staff is aware and paying attention, I am satisfied with his care. I am the one paying the bills for my friend and so I monitor his care, too. I am grateful to have found a place that does a good job of providing care in a thoughtful and friendly way.
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My mom was VERY reluctant about being bathed, would become combative (she was non-ambulatory and thankfully not very strong), the decision of hospice was to increase (one time) her anxiety medication which was a plus for my mom (she was still some what combative); however, it is legally the greater issue of the client being clean than the excuse the client is 'unclean' because of an anxiety issue.
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Residents of nursing homes have a right, under federal regulations, to refuse care and treatment. Bathing is considered care. Keep in mind, we all have the right to make what others would consider bad decisions. It is not any different for folks living in nursing homes. In addition, forcing a person with dementia to do anything can result in harm to the resident. This doesn't mean that if a resident refused a shower/bath, that they shouldn't be asked later. It is important to convey to staff the time of day and method the resident prefers. Don't give someone a shower who doesn't like getting water in their face. Also, it is not necessary to take a shower or bath to achieve the level of cleanliness that is healthy. There are techniques that can be used to get a person clean in a calm cooperative manor. One of the best resources I have encountered is the information on the Bathing without a Battle website. Things to ask: Is staff telling the person they have to take a shower? Usually met with resistance. Is staff saying "Do you want to take a shower?" Usually met with a "No." response. Is the shower room the appropriate temperature for the resident? Is the resident afforded as much privacy as possible? Is the staff person taking his/her time and allowing the resident to do as much as possible to feel in control. Is the resident being done to or are they informed of what is coming next? This could be accomplished by giving the resident a warm wet washcloth to use to wash their face and any other area they can reach. Hope this helps.
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My husband with late stage dementia always says no but there is one caregiver he has somewhat bonded with. She does not ask. If you ask, the answer is no. She just says "good morning. It's time to get ready for the day." And gently leads him into the shower with bars and chair. He sees her coming and says "Oh, no" but follows her. One day he said "Oh, sh*# when he saw her and he's never been one to curse!
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Even before my mother went into the NH, when she was still of fairly sound mind, she would refuse to shower. When I moved in, I got her to start showering on a regular basis, but it was a struggle. She fought me on it every time - not physically, but the manipulative way she's always had - "I'll do it later". "After breakfast". "After this tv show is over." "After dinner." "No, it's too late now, I'll do it in the morning." I finally had to get really stern with her and tell her she was *going* to shower and that was all there was to it.

Unfortunately, when she went into the nursing home, she realized that they can't force her to shower, so she went without for weeks at a time, getting only a wipe down of the important areas on a daily basis when they toileted her. Teeth not brushed and almost growing fur, they were so dirty. Body odor that would knock you over when you entered the room. The staff finally started resorting to bribery - they'd offer her food, like pudding or something sweet, if she would get into the shower or walk-in tub. That worked - most of the time.

But to answer your question - no, they can't force them. They can ask, bribe, beg, etc - but they can't force them. I was told that by the nursing home administrator, because I wanted mom washed more often - and was told they couldn't make her do it.
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