portrait of elder man in the bathroomElderly people are not babies and as they continue to age, many feel like they are treated more like an infant than like the mature adult they are.

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 telling them that they need to bathe daily is not going to do the trick.

It is important to take a deep and look at the world from the eyes of an aging adult and remember from their perspective all of their concerns are valid.

If your aging parent is refusing to bathe, I would recommend talking to your mom/dad and get more information about why he/she doesn’t want to bathe. Ask your aging parent if he/she feels unstable, chilled or in pain? (I mention this because there are bathing techniques for elderly people with all these issues). Also, I would suggest a medical visit because you will need your elderly parent’s doctor to rule out medical conditions.

There are many reasons why an elderly person would not want to bathe and most are usually very simple:

• Elderly person finds it hard to get to and from shower or bath
• Aging loved on find it difficult to get into and/or out of the shower or bathe
• An elderly parent has had a bad experience with scalding or freezing water temperatures
• Most common reason why an elderly person does not want to bathe is that the elderly parent is petrified of falling

Overcoming the reasons to when an aging parent would not want to bath or be reluctant to a shower can be as easy as installing a grab bar. Other remedies for helping your aging parent feel more comfortable bathing and showering are:

• Create an easily accessible bathing area for your elderly parent; remove steps, lower hurdles to make it easier to get into/out of shower and bath tub
• Your aging parent would benefit greatly from using a shower bench to allow them to sit down when it is needed
• Occasionally an elderly parent will lose time when they are taking a shower or a bath, if you use a timer it will help them remember how much time they have been in the shower or bath
• Grab bars in and out of the shower
• Aging parents benefit greatly during bath time if the bottles have easy to open lids
• Finally, your elderly parents will have a peace of mind with the temperature of the water if you check the pipes to make sure they are functioning properly. It is important as your parents age that they are not scare of scalding or free water during a shower or bathing event

If your aging parent has dementia and is refusing to take a bathe, there is usually a behavioral trigger that has occurred. In the elderly with dementia and bathe time sometimes your loved one will feel a loss of control and embarrassed. This can be easily dealt with by a trained home health aide when working with elderly that has dementia.

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