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Newbie, finally reaching out

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Old 04-24-2013, 05:32 PM   #1
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Newbie, finally reaching out

My sister and I take care of our 94 year old mother. I am with her daily and my sis is there at nite. We are having a hard time with her bathing. I need to know how to get thru to her without her getting so agitated. She still thinks she bathes at the same time each day that she has done for years. My mom gets very angry with us for trying to help her. When we mention a bath she says she will get one when she is ready . Well that time never comes. Bought shower chair she hates taking showers. Same with washing her do u help someone who believes there is nothing wrong to begin with. My mom has always been independent and strong.She also suffers from congested heart failure and I worry so much about her I have sleepless nights. She is truly the child and I"m the parent.

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Old 04-24-2013, 10:02 PM   #2
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Re: Newbie, finally reaching out

Bath time can be very difficult. They do think they have had a bath... at some point. Since time has no meaning for them, last week can seem like yesterday. Beyond that the steps in bathing are complicated and involve disrobing and being uncomfortable.

Bathing at the same time of day each day, as she always has does help. Don't make it a big deal. Come in cheerful saying..."It's time". Don't ask if she wants a bath because she will tell you no. With Dad I found it beneficial to get him in the shower in the morning before he put on his clothes for the day. While he was sitting on the toilet I would swipe his clothes, coax him out of his underwear, and turn on the water. At that point it is simple for him to step in the tub and shower. It was natural because he was already undressed. I would hand him what he needed, as he needed it. I put the shampoo on his hand and just said... "Wash your hair". I would give him a soapy rag to wash with when it was time. When done I would turn off the water and hand him a towel.

Bathing takes many steps from undressing, to the actually bathing, washing hair, drying, redressing. If you break it down into the individual parts it's easier for them to follow and much less frustrating. It might take a few days to get the hand of this and get her over the frustration but it works better than anything I have tried.

Also make sure the bathroom is warm... too warm for you. Being wet she will be cold and they do not like to be uncomfortable. If she is modest you can put a towel over her shoulders or on her lap. Make sure that the water is the right temperature. Let her check that herself if it helps. Checking the water temp might give her the start she needs to get in the water. Also know that they lose peripheral vision. Coming at her from the back or side does not work. Try to stay in front of her. I have actually coaxed Dad in the shower with his underwear on and then he will take them off because they are wet I also found it helpful to put a towel in the bottom of the shower for Mom. She felt insecure on the slippery tile floor. Having the "rug" under her feet made her feel more secure. I never argue about the shower. If it doesn't work today then let it go until tomorrow. Try various techniques until you find the one that works.

"Bathing Without a Battle: Person-Directed Care of Individuals with Dementia" by Ann Louise Barrick is a good book to read to help you understand this battle. It covers both institutional and in home bathing techniques but is the best book on the subject. It is a rather expensive book. You can also check with your local Alzheimer's Association who has book lending and pamphlets on Bathing. "The 36 Hour Day" which has been a standard for in home dementia care also has a section on bathing.

Hope something here has helped. Please know that they do not HAVE to have a bath every day. Trying different techniques, and hopefully you will come up with one that works for your Mom If you have any more questions I will be happy to help.

Love, deb

Old 04-25-2013, 12:30 PM   #3
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Re: Newbie, finally reaching out

I don't know about your Mom's stage, but I know it is more difficult to give the patient a bath as she gets worse in the stage. Early on when my late FIL had mid-stage of Alzheimer's, the home care nurse/caregivers tried to give him a shower every morning before he gets dressed. The person made him sit on the bath bench and adjusted the water and used the wash towel to wash him. They washed his hair too. Sometimes he didn't like it but sometimes he was OK. A few times he complained that he had a shower too early - he asked if we needed to take a shower like that with someone's help? If the time is not fixed like this, he refused to take a shower. A few times he was dirty for not washing for a few days. He lied to the tester on memory test that he took a shower at night but he started not taking showers and we didn't realize that.

Later on he moved to the memory unit and the caregivers said he didn't like the shower. So they only gave him the shower once a week. He hates water. Later he got sicker in severe stage and refused toileting. They gave him anti-psychotic drug so he was tame and they were able to help him in toileting. They washed him on his bed every morning and night before he went to bed.

In the end, when things all fail, you can try sponge bath but she has to be able to let you wipe her in her bed or in her room. If she doesn't take a shower at all, you can try sponge bath.


Last edited by ninamarc; 04-25-2013 at 12:35 PM.

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