There are a number of reasons
Fear is a big one. There are things that can be done to help you and your dad.
It is not uncommon for an older person to balk at bathing if they associate it with discomfort because the water hurts their skin, or they’re cold following a shower.
People with Alzheimer’s or dementia are sometimes especially panicked because they feel they have no control over what’s happening to them – or they’re embarrassed because a daughter or son sees them in the nude (usually the last thing any parent wants).
Other reasons for resisting bathing could be:
- They lose track of how long it’s been since they bathed, or …
- (We hear it all the time –) “I don’t go out, why do I need to shower?”
If you are having trouble getting your dad to shower or bathe, here are some things that might make it a little easier:
- Make sure the area around the tub is dry to reduce the fear of falling
- Install grab bars in the shower providing extra points of contact for balance
- Put down a non-slip mat for added safety
- Bring in a shower chair which may make him feel more secure
Keep Him Comfortable
- Warm up the bathroom before getting started. Turn on the hot water and close the door for a few minutes before he comes in.
- Respect his privacy. Take your cues from him as to how much help he wants. Let him wear swim trunks for dignity purposes.
- If he is overwhelmed by water, let him use a hand-held shower head which allows him to direct the stream
- Be careful about pointing out body odor or soiled clothing – he honestly may not know what you’re talking about and can become more resistant
- Consider whether or not it would be better for somebody else to help him. Most parents do not want their children seeing them at their most vulnerable. It can be easier for a professional caregiver, who has earned his trust, to get him into a shower properly
If He Still Refuses
If any of these things are becoming issues, Seniors In Place is here to answer your questions.
- Don’t let it become a power struggle. Accept that your parent may only bathe once or twice a week
- Be patient. Be encouraging. Give him choices – like does he want to take a shower now or after breakfast?
- Focus on the positive – for instance, how good he’ll feel once he’s all warm and clean
- Entice him with treats. For example, “Dad, do you want cookies? Once we’re done with your shower, I’ll bring you some cookies. But we have to get this done first.”
The reasons for not wanting to bathe can be complicated. For you, it can be frustrating – and a little embarrassing. For him, it’s so much worse. Try not to let him see your exasperation. It’s only going to prolong the difficulty.
If you start to feel like you’re becoming a parent to your parent, and you feel you need help, we would be happy to answer your questions and provide guidance. Our Certified Home Health Aides are well-trained, experienced, and loving. With a full- or part-time caregiver helping your father, you no longer have to be your parent’s parent, and you can become the child again.
If you would like to discuss your unique situation and learn about ways our caregivers earn their clients’ trust every day, please call us. We understand how important it is that you have the answers to your questions, and we would like the opportunity to provide any guidance you may need.