Won’t bathe

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Lada 8 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #57785 Reply

    Shary M

    I need help! What suggestions do you have when a parent decides to stop bathing? I have been nice, angry, sad, cried, to no avail. My father is 90 years old and up to recently, cooperative.

  • #58039 Reply

    Carol Swaffar

    I know your situation, I live through it with my mother. It took me awhile to really understand that she truly believed she had taken a bath or shower. Dementia is tricky, and changing, and is a slow pace to Alzheimer’s.
    When mom became argumentative about bathing, in the beginning I would argue with her, then I realized I was going about it all wrong! I was asking a question, “do you want to bath now?” , choices confuse the elderly with dementia. Now I give a kindly worded command, ” come on it is time to shower” as I’m moving her wheelchair or walker in front of her. Once a week is all she can manage but that is much better then no bathing!
    If you father ( or my mother ) becomes combative, or hits, it is time to make a change in their care arrangement. I live with and care for my mother 24/7 and have for many years. I will continue until the end if I can but I’ve come to realize that as she ages so am I ! If her dementia enters the stage of combativeness I now realize I’ll have to make other arrangements for her living accommodations.
    This has been a 2 year process of figuring out the hugeness dilemma hopefully you can use my experience to shorten your learning curve. All of my descision were made in consultation with Mothers doctor and nurses.
    I wish you success as I really understand what you are going through.
    Regards ,
    Carol Swaffar

    • #60240 Reply

      Nicole Tew

      Hello. Carol Swaffar.
      As you said that, you are moving her wheelchair or walker in front of her and once a week is all she can manage to take baths, I would highly recommend you to purchase a walk-in tub. My grandmother who had dementia uses a walk in tub. Doctor has recommended us to install walk in bathtubs Spokane Valley(http://www.walkinbathtubwa.com/wheelchair-accessible-bath/), to use the bathtub, she must be able to take a short step to get into it. There are models for wheelchair users. Then after the installation of walk-in bathtub, it is a relaxing experience for my grandmother and the tub also has hydrotherapy jets for bone and joint help.

  • #58369 Reply

    Paula M

    When you say “bathe” do you mean an actual bath or shower? My brother whom I care for has only been two times in the shower in 3 years. It just takes too much out of him even sitting because the baths on another floor. He bathes in his room using two basins and the wash stuff they used on him in rehab for months and months – Aloe Vesta Cleansing Foam.. I wash his back and feet and he does the rest. I wash his hair over a basin on the kitchen table.

  • #58401 Reply

    Katy Pray

    I’m a former CNA and encountered this situation frequently. Approaching the person from a different perspective seemed to work best. Something to take into consideration is that as a person’s senses change as they age or their disease process progresses. Sight and hearing loss gives them a less secure feeling (Who wears glasses or hearing aides in the shower?)add to that the invasion of their person by someone who must needs touch them in private places. I’d sometimes approach with a comradery attitude, bringing them to the idea we had common goal. Then start the process low, even feet, lower legs, etc. END with the hair. If you start with the hair, #1 it can be a sensory overload #2 your person will get chilled. Talk soothingly as you bath, don’t rush them. Allow the person to do as much as they can, encourage. DO dry and clothe as soon as you can to keep warm. Hth

  • #59651 Reply


    Hahaha, I only laugh because I’d rather cry. Dad is starting this behavior also.

    Is there a way to print this article out so I can give it to Dads CNA?

  • #60122 Reply

    Bobbi Carducci

    1. You asked.
    2. Room Temperature – Low body fat means they get cold easily.
    3. Modesty – They don’t want you to see them naked.
    4. It’s Scary – They don’t understand what’s happening.

    You asked: When asked a yes or no question a person with dementia may not understand the question and automatically answer with a resounding, NO, to avoid agreeing to anything.
    Why? Because it’s one of the first words we learn when beginning to speak. It’s short and powerful and it works if we repeat it often enough. Instead of asking, get everything ready and then gently say, “Your shower is ready,” and lead him or her into the room.
    Room Temperature: When preparing the room make sure it is very warm. It may feel like a sauna to you but to someone who is frail it could still feel chilly. Make sure the water is warm also but make sure it isn’t hot. Test it as you would before bathing an infant. Have plenty of soft, warm towels at hand. Warming them in the dryer just before shower time is a good idea.
    Modesty: Most of us have some body issues and are reluctant to have others see us naked and this could be especially true of an elderly parent being bathed by one of their children. It’s perfectly okay to wrap a towel around their chest and one over their lap and bathe them through the towel. They maintain their dignity, stay warm, and get clean all at the same time.
    It’s Scary: Imagine sitting naked on an uncomfortable seat in a little room with sounds echoing around you. You’re not sure why you are, how you got there, or what’s going to happen. Then all of a sudden something starts falling out of the sky and hitting you on your head, chest or back.
    Dementia affects vision as well as memory and other functions. The person in your care cannot see the water falling from the showerhead. It’s confusing and frightening and they want nothing to do with it.
    To help alleviate the fear and confusion use a hand held shower head and start at their feet, moving very slowly up the legs, talking softly as you go along, have their favorite music playing if you can. Let them wash themselves as much as possible.
    When bathing is complete wrap them in warm towels even before leaving the shower and remain in the warm room until they are complete dry and clothed.
    Will this work all the time for everyone? Probably not. There will come a time when showers and baths are no longer possible and bed baths are the best you can do. Until then, try some of these suggestions they may make things just a little bit easier for both of you.

  • #60847 Reply


    It’s strange that this is such a common problem! Children and the elderly hate to bathe!

  • #60907 Reply


    With my mother was the same. But I found how to deal with her. She never waisted anything, reused many things, so I prepared the bath full of water with some foam, wich covered the watersurface and told hher, that I just had nice bath, but the water is still nice, warm and clean and it would be shame to waste it and maybe she would like to hsve a bath after me.
    She allways took a bath in that way, soaked in warm water for long time…

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