Tips on How to Get an Elderly Parent to Bathe or Shower

As people age, they often begin to become reluctant about bathing for many reasons. Some elderly people fear falling in the shower due to poor balance, some are very modest and do not want to have help, some feel discomfort with extreme temperature changes, and some elderly people may even have pain whenever they change positions often. Bathing can be taxing, and if your elderly parent has begun to refuse to bathe for any of the above reasons, or for reasons of their own, then you may be growing a bit irritated. Bathing regularly is key to staying healthy and happy. Without regular baths or showers, elderly patients can get skin irritation or infections. Even if they are reluctant to bathe, it is necessary for their health and wellbeing that they bathe on a regular basis. If your elderly parent is refusing to bathe, and you feel like you are at your wit’s end, then try following a few of these tips. Hopefully soon, your elderly parent will be bathing regularly again.

Talk with Your Parents

The first step to determine why your parents are reluctant about taking a bath or shower is to simply ask them. Talk with your elderly parents and try to figure out if they are scared, uncomfortable, in pain, or simply have memory issues and forget to bathe. Once you find out the root cause, it will be easier to fix the problem.

Talk to Your Parents’ Health Care Providers

If your parents have been refusing to take baths or showers for a prolonged period of time, then talk with their health care provider. Their doctors and nurses may be able to give you a bit of insight into their health, and offer you assistance in convincing your parents to bathe. They also may be able to give your parents other options for bathing, such as using wet wipes or instructions on sponge bathing.

Make Notes

If your elderly parents are not bathing because they have dementia and are forgetting to bathe, or because they have lost some of their ability to smell, then post notes around their house to remind them to bathe. By taping a few sticky notes or pieces of paper to the wall or door of the bathroom, you can remind them to bathe at least every other day. You can also put a calendar in their home with days circled to remind them when to bathe.

Call in a Third Party

Home health care agencies offer a wide variety of services to their patients. They have personal support workers on staff that can visit your elderly parents on routine basis and help them with different things they may need. If your elderly parent is really modest, and does not want help from family members to bathe, then they may accept help from a home health care worker. Talk with your parents about calling a home health care agency, and see how they feel about someone coming to their home each day. If they are receptive, then you can call an agency, and have a personal support worker come to their house the same time each day to help them bathe and get ready for the day.

Get their Friends Involved

If your parents still talk and interact with their friends frequently, then get them involved. Friends can unconsciously help a person bathe by saying a few choice phrases. For example, if it is time for your parents to bathe, then have their friends call and tell them to jump in the shower and get ready so that they can go out and eat or go to the movies. Your parents may be so excited to leave the house and hang out with their friends that they will not think twice about bathing.

Buy Shower Equipment

Many elderly patients have difficulties taking a shower or a bath because they cannot stand for extended periods of time or get into or out of the bath tub. If this is the case with your parents, then buy shower equipment to help them out. Shower chairs and railings can help them be more efficient and more comfortable in the shower. They also promote shower safety so that your parents will not have to worry about falling and injuring themselves. You can also place adhesive stickers in the bottom of your parents’ shower to keep them from slipping, and install safety bars all throughout the bathroom.

Start Slow

The best piece of advice is to start slow. Elderly parents do not want to be pushed into doing something that they do not want to do. If they are reluctant about bathing regularly, then there is a reason, you just have to find it. Start talking to them about their bath time habits and see how the conversation progresses. If they become agitated, then back down. However, if they are receptive to hearing your opinion, then try to get them to start a new bath routine that they will stick to on a daily basis. Find the right pace that fits their reluctance and needs, and do not push them. If you push them, then they may become rebellious, and not want to listen to you at all.

Elderly patients need more care than most other age groups due to their unique health issues and problems. One of the more common issues with elderly patients is their refusal to shower and get ready for the day. This may arise due to many reasons, and it may be frustrating for their primary caregivers. If your elderly parents are refusing to bathe or shower on a regular basis, then try following these tips to find out the reason and to fix the issue. If you can talk with your parents and figure out why they refuse to shower or take a bath, then you can probably fix the reason easily and get them back on their normal routine.

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