One aspect of caring for an elderly mom or dad that family caregivers may be surprised to discover is the frequent fighting over bathing and showering. Many find that their aging loved ones simply refuse to do so and don’t know what to do to convince them.
Why Seniors Might Refuse Baths and Showers
The key to changing an aging person’s mind about showering is first understanding why they are resisting. A family caregiver must focus on getting to the root of the problem, so they can figure out a solution. Usually, there isn’t just one cause, but several that combine to make the aging parent afraid or unwilling to bathe or shower.
One of the most common reasons is fear of falling, thanks to slippery wet surfaces and a task that requires a lot of twisting and balancing. This is especially common if the aging person has already suffered a fall. Another reason may be the inability to clean themselves and being too embarrassed to ask for help. This is complicated by the embarrassment of having a family member help them to bathe, so it’s just easier to avoid it.
Still other reasons for refusing to bathe or shower include depression, cognitive decline, discomfort from being wet and cold, and using bathing as leverage in a power dynamic with family caregivers. It makes sense for family caregivers to figure out what’s causing the anxiety and stubbornness, so they can work toward a solution.
Tips on Talking to Seniors Who Won’t Bathe
Once a family caregiver has focused in on what might be causing the aging adult to avoid baths and showers, they must implement a solution. The first step is to make the bathroom as safe as possible, with grab bars, non-slip mats and bath or shower chairs. Other adaptive tools can also help, such as long-handled scrubbers, hands-free soap dispensers and more. If the aging person is worried about safety, falling and balance, these solutions could help.
If the aging person is worried about modesty or their ability to shower on their own, many find success with hiring an elderly care provider. These professionals are trained to help elderly adults with numerous self-care tasks like bathing, showering, grooming, hygiene and more. Hiring an elderly care provider can often eliminate any power struggles going on.
Finally, if the aging adult is dealing with cognitive issues that affect their ability to remember when to bathe, an elderly care provider can also solve that problem. Family caregivers can schedule the elderly care provider to come a few days per week. Then the senior knows whenever their “guest” arrives, it means a bath or shower.
Above all, family caregivers need to work on compromising with their elderly loved ones when it comes to bathing and showering. If something isn’t working, they need to keep trying until they find the right combination. Bathing and showering are important to overall health so any advances in this area with an aging adult are good.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING ELDERLY CARE IN YOUNGSVILLE, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT SENIORS HELPING SENIORS TODAY. CALL (919) 761-5346.
Kathy is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) who is active in several other senior related organizations, including Alzheimer’s State Champion program, Friends of the Northern Wake Senior Center board member, Ambassador for the Rolesville Chamber of Commerce, Aging Life Care Association (ALCA), Health Affairs Round Table (HART), and Senior Information Networking Group (SING).