Mom Refuses To Take A Bath!
So you are finding mom becoming more and more resistant to taking a bath. She used to be so insistent on maintaining good hygiene but now she refuses! What can you do? Here are a few tips and suggestions to help.
Comfort And Trust – You Have To Trust The Bath Aide!
First and foremost the person giving the bath must be someone your mom is comfortable with. There are not too many things in life that are more personal than taking a bath.
Make sure you ask for your mom’s permission on who you will be using for the primary bath giver. It needs to be someone that mom is comfortable with in being totally exposed. If she does not want one of her children doing this, that is not surprising. As a matter of fact, I would recommend a family member not be the one to do this if at all possible. It is better to keep the care-giving side of bathing to an ‘outsider’ so to speak.
It generally runs smoother if mom is not using a family member for baths.
Trust; absolutely critical. You must use someone that both you and your mom can completely trust. This person must be good at what they do. They must be patient. They must be professional, They must be fully trusted.
The last thing you want to do is to use someone that your mom is not able to trust. Is the caregiver being a little too aggressive? Are they not doing a thorough job? Are they not friendly enough? All of these are legitimate questions that need to be answered on an ongoing basis when using a caregiver for bathing assistance.
If you or mom are not comfortable with someone, find a new bath aide. This is a common reason why mom may suddenly lose interest in taking a bath. Keep your lines of communication open on an ongoing basis when addressing who is giving the baths and whether mom is remaining 100% comfortable with this person.
Look around! How Safe Is The Bathing Area?
Take a good, hard look at the bathroom or area that the bathing takes place in. Is it too crowded? Is it easily manageable as far as getting around? Are there too many obstacles in the way?
You must make sure that mom has an area that she is comfortable with for taking a bath. It needs to be a safe environment without a lot of things in the way. If it is a shower that mom is stepping into, is it an easy transition into the shower? Is there a ledge she has to step up and over to get in? These things matter. Take a look.
Once in the shower or tub, does she have good grab bars to rely on should she need them? If she were to lose her balance, what is the likely outcome? Make sure she has a secure feeling in her environment. Make sure the little things are in place. Grab bars are an absolute necessity in an elderly bathing area.
The next thing to consider is the fact of is the area private enough? Maybe mom feels like someone is always watching her and she may not be comfortable with that. There is a fine line in having someone be a standby assist and being too invasive.
Make sure that mom is able to take a bath in privacy and respect that. Privacy is a big deal. If she feels that is lacking, taking a bath will not be a very appealing idea.
Is mom still bathing alone? If mom is taking a bath by herself still, maybe she is not fully comfortable with that. Maybe her balance is in question and she is not trusting herself. Is it time to get a bath aide to help her? That may be all it takes to get mom to the point where she will bathe again. Communication is key.
Tools Make Life Easier – From Soaps And Sponges To Bath Seats, It All Helps
If you are building a house, what tools do you need? A hammer, some nails, a saw? Basic enough question but think about it in terms of taking a bath. It’s not the same for mom to take a bath anymore. She doesn’t just stroll into the shower and step in. Things are different now. Make it as easy as you can.
What tools are available to help? First thing; grab bars, similar to this bar sold on Amazon and made by Moen. As mentioned earlier, this is a must! Put the grab bars in areas in the bathroom where the are most needed. Where will mom stand when stepping into the shower? How will she be situated once in the shower. She needs to have a bar available to steady herself at all times.
If she is taking a bath, put the bars in an area that she can use them to stand up or sit down. Think about the process logically and actually go through the motions yourself. Where are they most needed? A walk in tub can be quite beneficial. If you have the ability to install one, I would highly recommend it.
The next tool to consider is an adjustable shower head similar to this Moen one on Amazon. One that can be hand-held and easily used. Lightweight with varying water patterns is ideal. Maybe mom has sensitive skin and the water pressure is uncomfortable. Using an adjustable shower head such as this one on Amazon is a good idea.
The correct shampoo and soap. Simple enough but have you considered that maybe mom has sensitive skin now and the soap or shampoo she has used for the last several years is no longer a good fit? Maybe it burns her skin now or makes her break out after using? Make sure you have soap and shampoo that is not irritating and make sure mom really likes it.
Shower Seat. Did you know they make seats just for showering and bathing. This is ideal in making the process run just a little bit smoother. There are several options such as this chair here on Amazon, but take a look. This allows mom to not have to move as much and still allows her to get fully bathed.
Shower cap. Maybe mom doesn’t want to get her hair wet and that is the reason she no longer wants to take a bath. Get her a shower cap to keep her hair dry!
Stick To The Schedule! Keeping A Set Schedule Can Make All the Difference In Getting Mom To Take A Bath
One of the most basic reasons people fall out of a bathing routine is convenience. It becomes much easier to just skip the bath than to go to all the work to take a bath.
How do you overcome this? A schedule. If there are two set days a week for mom’s bath, these do not change. If Monday is a scheduled bath day and no bath is taken, then you need to ask mom why. The next day, the bath needs to be given. Do not let the schedule become something that needs to be done but is not really a big deal if it gets skipped. It is a big deal and this schedule needs to be followed. Maybe it’s just once a week but that one day a week is important.
Why is this so important? Good health starts with good hygiene. If mom is not taking good care of herself regarding her personal hygiene, prepare for other health issues to follow.
One of the most common problems for the elderly is bed sores. Bed sores lead to infections and they are not easily gotten rid of. Once pressure sores have formed, they are extremely challenging to treat and overcome. A contributing factor to bed sores its hygiene.
It is important to keep mom’s skin clean and maintained. Let’s face it, mom does not get around much. She moves from her bed to her chair back to her bed. The challenge in preventing bed sores with that fact alone is enough. Do not add hygiene issues that lead to infections into the mix. Bed sores are one of the bigger challenges home based seniors face, read our article here for additional information on this.
Set a bath schedule and stick to it. You may get some resistance to this at first but stick with it. Eventually mom will come to understand that getting a bath on her scheduled day(s) is not optional and she will quit fighting you on it.. A set schedule is important in keeping the appropriate expectations set.
Just Another Excuse – Are New Excuses Always Coming Up?
I’ll Do It Tomorrow, I’m Not Feeling Well Today!
Excuses, excuses, and more excuses! There is always an excuse on why mom may not want to take a bath. It is important that these excuses do not lead to a total pattern change where bathing just fades out of the picture. Of course there will be days when mom may not feel well enough to take a bath. The challenge becomes knowing when she really is not feeling well and when she is just making excuses not to.
Bathing is so important because it keeps us healthy. Mom will absolutely feel better once the bath is complete. She needs to understand and remember this. Bathing can be completely and totally exhausting. It can take an older person’s full ability and energy to complete a bath. There needs to be plenty of time to relax and recoup after taking a bath. However, it is important that the bath be given. Do not forget this!
When mom gives you the excuse this week on why she does not want to take her bath, you need to make sure you are pushing back on her and determining if she really cannot take one. If she knows that every time she tries to use and excuse she will be called out on it, she will eventually quit trying to use them and will just take the bath.
Mind Over Matter!
At the end of the day it comes down to being persistent and insistent with mom and her bath taking. You have to understand why she does not feel she needs to take one and you also have to understand what you are asking of her.
It is absolutely critical in maintaining mom’s good health in regards to bathing. She needs to take a bath regularly and she needs to understand why it is so important.
Taking a bath is not fun. It is a challenge and requires a lot of energy. However, it is necessary if mom wants to maintain her independence and remain at home. If you are interested in our other product recommendations for home care, please read our Essentials Of Homecare Article.