When she was young, Joan never liked being told what to do. Now, at 84, she adamantly refuses all requests to take a shower. She didn’t seem to notice the body odor or stringy hair that were so off-putting to friends and family.
Refusing to bathe is not uncommon among the elderly for a variety of reasons. And, unfortunately, the more you hint, suggest or request they take a bath or shower, the more they seem to push back at that idea.
So, if your elderly parents are like Joan, here are a few things you can try to get them in the shower or bath.
Address their physical concerns. If they are afraid of falling in the tub or shower, install grab rails. Maybe a walk-in tub or a shower chair would make them more comfortable. To prevent scalding hot water, adjust the water heater temperature.
Make it a part of their regular routine. “Okay, Mom, It’s Tuesday morning, time to take your shower.”
Give them a choice. “Would you like to take a shower, or a bath?”
Give them a reason to bathe. “Take a shower and get dressed. We are all going out to dinner.”
Convince them how fresh and clean they will feel.
Talk to their doctor. Maybe he or she could write them a “prescription” to bathe once or twice a week.
If these ideas don’t work, you still have options. One is to make sure that Mom and Dad are cleaning their face, groin, armpits and under skin folds daily. If that is too much for them or you to take care of, there is help available.
Synergy HomeCare caregivers are trained in the best ways to assist people who need help bathing and those who need convincing to bathe. Contact your local Synergy Homecare Agency for more information.