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Elderly Bath Time: Getting Seniors to Shower and Bathe Regularly

A senior man in the bathroom.Elderly people are not babies; as they continue to age, many feel like they are treated more like an infant 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, I would recommend talking to your mom/dad and getting 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 why an aging parent would not want to bathe or be reluctant to 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 and lower hurdles to make it easier to get into/out of the shower and bathtub
• Your aging parent would benefit greatly from using a shower bench to allow them to sit down when it is needed
• Occasionally, elderly parents 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 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 parent’s age that they are not scared of scalding or free water during a shower or bathing event

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