Getting our elderly parents or loved one to bathe can be more complicated than it seems.
We all love to spend time relaxing and refreshing in a hot shower. However, as people age, the same experience can be a negative or even triggering experience.
With a variety of elderly bathing solutions available, it is important to understand why your parent is refusing to bathe. Once you recognise their reasons, it should be easier to come up with an elderly bathing solution that works.
These reasons can be the mystery behind the “Bathing Battle”:
Below we will share some common reasons why elderly refuse to bath and how to convince an elderly parent or loved one to bath and improve personal hygiene.
One reason that elderly refuse to bathe is they do not realise the need. This can be related to their decreased sense of smell or not remembering when they last showered.
If they believe that they are clean, or that they showered that day, they do not need to shower again. Or, if they are home all day and not seeing anyone, they might not realise they still have to shower.
One option for a bathing solution for the elderly is to schedule something to look forward to. This could include an outdoor visit with a grandchild or even a Zoom catch up with friends.
When safe to do so, offering to take them out for a meal or an activity can also serve as enough motivation for them to shower and get dressed up.
Maintaining a Sense of Control or Respect
A second reason that elderly might not want to bathe is to maintain a sense of control or respect. Activities such as getting dressed or running errands that were a part of daily life now require outside support or help.
Bathing can be the last frontier for an elderly to maintain control of their body. When they are not able to bathe themselves, they might feel it is an invasion of privacy or respect to have a family member bathe them.
Using your loved one’s doctor as a resource can help with this resistance. Having an authority figure such as a doctor reinforces how important it is to bathe to stay healthy and minimise risks of other infections.
For people who are embarrassed to have a family member bathe them, getting a carer to help can be an ideal elderly bathing solution. As well as being more respectful, carers are professionally trained in bathing techniques and might be more skilled at overcoming the resistance.
Fear is another common culprit of this problem. Since showers are made from hard surfaces that become slippery, this can lead to a fear of falling. Or, there can be a fear of being cold when stepping out of the shower.
The best solution for these fears is to purchase bathroom aids to help the elderly feel safe. Some elderly bathing recommended products are:
Overall, if your parent is stubborn, bathing only once or twice per week might be enough.
Finally, remembering to frame the bathing experience as a positive and fun one is important. Turning up the heat to make sure the room is comfortable and thinking about bathing like a spa might build a positive association with the bathing experience.
Statewide Home Health Care: Your Health, Your Home, We Care.