Bathing regularly is a necessary personal hygiene task. However, aging parents may be reluctant to step into the bathtub or shower. Poor hygiene borders on self-neglect and can result in adverse health consequences. Here’s what to do if elderly parents refuse to bathe.
Why do seniors refuse to bathe?
A number of legitimate reasons can cause a senior to avoid taking a bath. Cognitive impairment can lead to poor personal hygiene. Symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia trigger a range of difficult behaviors and increased sensitivity.
Dementia may cause the elderly parent to hallucinate, believing they will swirl down the bathtub drain. Seniors with dementia may fear water. Encouraging parents with dementia to bathe can be especially traumatic when they are confused about the caregiver’s intent—no matter how well-meaning.
Furthermore, seniors with dementia often lose track of time. These individuals may mistakenly believe they have already bathed. Aging parents with dementia may become extra-sensitive to stimuli. Cognitive impairment, in combination with the aforementioned struggles, can make bathing seem impossible.
A bathroom, with slick tile floors, provides ideal conditions for a fall. Seniors are aware of this and may refuse to bathe out of fear of slipping and sustaining an injury, such as a broken hip. Older adults also tire more quickly, making bathing a long, arduous and exhausting task.
Depression can result in a change in behavior. An elderly parent who once groomed and dressed immaculately may stop bathing when he is affected by depression. When the senior’s energy levels dwindle and bathing becomes uncharacteristically irregular, schedule a medical checkup for depression.
How do caregivers convince parents to bathe?
1. Treat Depression
If the senior is depressed, a physician may prescribe antidepressants. Medications are helpful in uplifting spirits and promoting the vital energy necessary to execute the activities of daily living, like bathing. Elderly parents are more likely to heed a doctor’s advice (as opposed to coaxing from an adult child).
2. Modify Bathrooms
Seniors have a legitimate fear of stepping into a slippery tub. Family caregivers can overcome this hurdle by installing bath products designed to enhance stability. Grab bars in the shower, for instance, give an elderly parent a secure handle to lean upon. Or, seniors may rest in a shower chair.
3. Reframe “Bathing”
Refer to bath days as spa days to motivate an aging parent, especially one who enjoys being pampered. Family caregivers might introduce a scented bodywash and end the bathing task with the senior’s favorite scented lotion. Focus on the enjoyable aspects of baths as a means of encouragement.
4. Simplify Tasks
Dementia symptoms are unpredictable. A parent may develop new fears or behaviors, as other fears disappear. Consequently, dementia patients can become agitated or combative when caregivers suggest a bath. Proceeding slowly and gently can help caregivers successfully bathe elderly parents.
When tasking a dementia patient with bathing, it is important to break down the process into small, manageable steps. Start by asking to wipe the parent’s face. If the senior is receptive, try cleaning the individual’s underarms then other areas. Soothingly communicate each step to the parent.
5. Create an “Event”
An elderly parent may be more willing to bathe in anticipation of an upcoming event. A family caregiver might tell the senior that the event is the next day, thus prompting the parent to bathe. Such a strategy may be utilized to promote bathing two to three times per week.
6. Offer Rewards
Family caregivers can reward bathing. For instance, the family may offer to take an aging parent out to brunch; but first, he must meet conditions, like bathing. Treating the parent once a week at a local restaurant is an effective strategy to promote hygiene.
7. Hire Bath Aide
Hiring an in-home caregiver is another useful tactic when convincing an aging parent to bathe. Professional bath aides are experienced in getting seniors of all cognitive and physical abilities to shower. In fact, elderly parents feel less embarrassed with the help of a stranger.
Professional in-home caregivers are trained to thoroughly and quickly get a senior to bathe while respecting the comfort of the aging person. Family caregivers are likely to find more success by hiring a professional for the task. Choose a home care agency that will send the same caregiver each time.
8. Seek Home Care
Hygiene standards may be relaxed when elderly parents struggle with the task of bathing regularly. Some aging individuals maintain adequate personal hygiene for years simply with sponge baths. Compromise with the senior by scheduling an assisted full shower once or twice a week, for instance.
When elderly parents are no longer able to keep up with regular personal hygiene tasks (due to cognitive or physical decline), it is an indication that extra assistance at home is needed. Families can turn to Assisting Hands Home Care for compassionate in-home care by trained professionals.
Caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care are experienced with helping seniors accomplish the activities of daily living in the comfort of home. We discreetly assist senior care recipients with all personal hygiene tasks, such as bathing, grooming, dressing and toileting.
Assisting Hands Home Care professionals provide comprehensive, non-medical elderly home care. In addition to helping with personal hygiene, caregiver responsibilities include providing transportation to doctor’s offices, preparing balanced meals, light housekeeping, grocery shopping, companionship and evaluating the home for fall risks.
If your elderly parent suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, Assisting Hands Home Care can send a skilled dementia caregiver to the home to provide quality in-home dementia care services. Our dementia caregivers are trained to identify the symptoms of dementia and gently assist affected seniors.
Whether your aging loved one would benefit from respite care, 24-hour care, post-operative care or hospice care, Assisting Hands Home Care will develop a custom care plan to meet care needs. Families with seniors living in the areas surrounding Richardson, Dallas, University Park, Texas, are encouraged to call us for invaluable elder care.