As they continue to age, many seniors feel like they are treated more like infants than mature adults. This is especially true when the topic of showering or bathing on a regular basis comes up between an elderly loved one and their adult children. Yelling at your elderly parent and telling them that they need to bathe daily is not going to do the trick.
It is important to take a deep look at the world from the eyes of an aging adult and remember from their perspective that all of their concerns are valid.
If your aging parent is refusing to bathe, we recommend talking to mom or dad and getting more information about why they don’t want to bathe. Ask your aging parent if they feel unstable, chilled, or in pain – common issues for our elders when it comes to hygiene. A medical visit may be pertinent as they will need to rule out the presence of any medical conditions.
There are many simple reasons why an elderly person would not want to bathe:
- They find it hard to get to and from their shower or bath
- They feel it’s difficult to get in or out of the shower or bath
- They’ve had a bad experience with scalding or freezing water temperatures in their senior years
- Fear of falls
Overcoming the reasons why a person would not want to or be reluctant to shower or bathe can be as easy as installing a grab bar. These devices allow them to safely maintain their independence and personal hygiene.
Other remedies for helping the seniors in your life feel more comfortable bathing and showering include:
- Create an easily accessible bathing area; remove steps and lower hurdles to make it easier to get in and out of the shower or bathtub
- Use a shower bench to allow them to sit down as needed
- Use a timer to help them remember how much time they have been in the shower or bath and prevent pruning of the skin
- Use soap bottles with easy-to-open lids and caps for minimal struggle
- Check your water pipes to maintain proper functionality to mitigate temperature sensitivities. “The number one risk an elderly person has for scalding is simply decreased reaction time” according to caregiver.com.
If your aging parent has dementia and is refusing to take a bath, a behavioral trigger has usually occurred. Dementia patients will sometimes feel a loss of control and embarrassment during bath time. This can be easily dealt with by a trained home health aide when working with the elderly that has dementia.