How to Get An Elderly Person to Bathe or Shower

How to Get An Elderly Person to Bathe or Shower

When confronted with an elderly person who is unwilling to bathe or shower, it can be difficult to know where to begin in attempting to change their routine. However, if you approach the situation carefully, you should be able to persuade the person to bathe more frequently, primarily for the sake of better health, but also for the sake of pleasure. Begin by researching the possible causes of the person’s insufficient bathing habits. Then make suggestions for a change in routine, such as offering to help or finding help for them when washing. Finally, inspect the bathroom to ensure that the person has the easiest, safest, and most comfortable bathing experience possible.

Method 1 Discussing Hygiene and Safety Concerns

1. Keep in mind that poor hygiene isn’t always a choice. Bathing may become more difficult as people age. This could be due to a fear of falling, difficulty getting in and out of the tub or shower, difficulty washing themselves, or even a cognitive disorder like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Keep all of these things in mind as you approach an elderly family member or friend about their hygiene, and strive to be as respectful and tactful as possible.

2. Determine the individual’s general grooming habits. By approaching the situation in a roundabout way, you can avoid putting too much pressure on your loved one or client. It is critical to make them feel at ease before suggesting a change in routine, which can be upsetting and difficult for many elderly people.

For example, you could start by asking if they have enough grooming supplies, and if they say yes, you could follow up with, “Well, is that enough soap for your showers and baths this week?” “How many baths or showers do you think you take on average?” If they say no, “Just to give me an idea for when I’m shopping, how many baths or showers do you think we should restock you for?”

3. Make a suggestion for a change in routine. If you discover that they bathe less than twice a week, shift your tone of voice from casually inquisitive to concerned. Approach the issue from a medical standpoint, rather than a personal one, emphasising the importance of hygiene to overall health.

Explain that bathing at least twice a week is recommended by doctors to prevent infection. “You know, I’ve heard on the news / from my doctor that not only should everyone bathe once a week, but they should bathe at least twice a week for better health,” try saying. “I believe we should give it a shot.”

4. Avoid mentioning any odour issues. Bringing up body odour may disappoint or irritate them, making it more difficult to persuade them to change their habits. Furthermore, because seniors may have a diminished sense of smell, they may be unaware of an odour problem. If they are unable to detect the odour and are concerned, pointing it out to them may cause anxiety.

5. Inquire about the person’s bathing concerns and requirements. Bathing or showering may cause anxiety depending on their physical condition—undressing, getting in and out of the tub, washing, drying off, and dressing may require more energy than they have. They may be afraid of falling in the tub, have a bad experience with scalding or icy-cold water, or lose track of time easily. Take these into account when arranging for washing assistance and improving bathroom safety.

Ask questions like, “Have you been hurt while using the tub, by falling, or by the temperature of the water?” or “Do you feel really tired after washing?” to try to understand what concerns they may have. If fatigue or a fear of falling appear to be issues, either bathe the person yourself or hire a caregiver.

Method 2 Scheduling a Bathing Time

1. Give them a reason to wash their hands. If your loved one hasn’t been washing frequently enough, it’s likely that they don’t feel obligated to do so because they don’t go out or see people on a regular basis. You can increase their motivation to bathe by encouraging them to make plans. Make specific plans with them on a calendar rather than simply suggesting things to do.

Lunch with friends or family, going to the movies or a musical performance, or going to the park are all simple activities to plan.

2. Offer to assist them with the washing. Even if they prefer to wash themselves, it’s best to supervise them for at least the first couple of washes. Stress that you only want to be there to set things up and ensure safety, with the option of letting them wash on their own after you’ve ensured their safety.

If you do assist the person in bathing, use tactful questions to assist them in the bathing process. For example, you could ask, “What kind of soap do you prefer?” Do you require a washcloth? Is the water sufficiently warm?

During the bathing process, you can also make subtle suggestions such as, “Here’s the soap for washing your body.” “I’ll hand you the shampoo next so you can wash your hair,” for example.

3. To schedule a washing time, ask provocative questions. Instead of asking whether or not they want to bathe, ask questions that assume they do. Avoid yes or no questions like “Do you want to bathe or not?” because they come across as testy and omit the assumption that more bathing should be done.

For example, you could inquire, “When should I return to assist you with your bath?” or “What time of day suits you best for showering?”

4. Make arrangements for laundry assistance. Depending on your relationship with the individual, they may be uncomfortable with you assisting them with such a private routine. If the person lives with a spouse or partner, suggest that the spouse or partner assist them in bathing. Begin by discussing and establishing a routine with both of them if they appear open to this. Make a note of the washing days (at least two per week) on your calendar.

5. Make arrangements for a caregiver. If the person is unable to bathe alone and is uncomfortable with a family member assisting, the best option is to hire a caregiver for home visits. In most communities, these services are widely available. Look up “In-Home Health Provider” or “Home Health Care” in your phone book or on the internet. Schedule a bathing session at least twice a week, and put it on a visible calendar (attached to the refrigerator, hanging on a wall in the kitchen).

The thought of an unfamiliar person assisting them with their washing may be unsettling. Assure them that the caregiver is a professional who has been specially trained to assist people in taking care of themselves.

Regardless of who does the washing, remind the loved one that bathing can be a pleasurable, refreshing experience and is essential for good health.

5. Establish a regular washing schedule. Putting washing times on the calendar, whether you, a spouse, or a caregiver, will help the loved one improve their memory and get a better sense of the week’s activities. It’s “bath time” when you or the caregiver arrive, an event as expected and routine as dinner or bedtime.

6. Check in to ensure that the washing is proceeding as planned. If you are not the one doing the washing, either ask your spouse or partner if the schedule is being followed, or call the in-home care agency to ensure that the treatment is going well.

If the person is washing themselves, checking the soap bar size and body wash / shampoo bottle levels to see if they’ve been used is an easy way to ensure they’re using the bath on a regular basis.

Since you’ve already completed the difficult task of questioning them about hygiene, you should be able to ask them casually whether they’ve been adhering to the new bathing schedule you’d agreed on.

7. If you encounter resistance, see a doctor. It is possible that your loved one will refuse to bathe, despite your repeated attempts to explain the benefits and offer to assist. Consult a family doctor in this case and inquire about medications designed to reduce resistance to care.

Method 3 Ensuring Safety in the Bathroom

1. As needed, install grab bars. These can be very reassuring and helpful for someone who has already fallen in the bathtub or is afraid of falling in the bathtub. They should be easily accessible at a pharmacy or a home improvement store.

2. If the person is unable to sit in the tub, install a tub bench or shower chair. These are especially useful if a fall has already occurred or if there is a fear of falling due to frailty or fatigue. Again, the best places to buy these are pharmacies or bath supply stores.

3. Add a non-slip mat or anti-slip tape to the tub’s base. Many bathtubs may already have this sandpaper-textured tape on the bottom, but it may be beneficial to add more in the middle area where most of the standing occurs when showering. Non-slip mats (for drying off) are also available for the floor directly outside the tub.

4. Install a shower head with a handheld sprayer. This gives the person more control over the washing process. It is also much safer because it prevents falls by 1) eliminating the need to manoeuvre under the shower head to wash hard-to-reach areas and 2) allowing them to wash while sitting in a shower chair.

5. Ensure that the water system is working properly. Hand-test the water temperature. Allow the hot and cold water to run for a few minutes each to check for significant temperature changes. If the temperature frequently changes from hot to cold, contact your landlord or hire a plumber to fix the problem.

If the person lives in an apartment, the test should be performed in the early morning when other residents are showering and fluctuations are most common.

Check the temperature gauge on the water heater and make sure it is set to 120 degrees. This should help to keep scalding temperatures at bay.

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