How to get someone with dementia to shower?

my mom, bless her heart, is 83 and has been suffering from dementia for over 30 years. The last year, it has become a serious issue to get her to shower. She’s as mean as a snake and violent when it comes to asking her please just take a shower. I’m lucky (and this is pretty gross) to get her to shower every 2 months or so. Does anyone have any suggestions other than putting her in a nursing home to get the poor woman clean?

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Help a mama out and respond anonymously on our forum. How to get someone with dementia to shower?

Have you ever thought of hiring a CNA or pca for a couple hours a week to come and help you?? They are trained to do this type of stuff

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Give her a baby doll and tell her she’s giving the baby a shower. I’ve seen incredible studies on how baby dolls help elderly people.

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You could try giving her a washcloth with soap and have her try to do it in her bed first.

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You can hire care givers or a home health care aide to coke specifically to bathe her. It’s private pay and has to be paid for upfront (our case it had to be, company policy for first visit) but it was helpful for probably a year then she passed.

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If she doesn’t want to get in the shower, would a bed bath be better for her??

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I never said shower. That was a bad word. It was just OK, lets get cleaned up and enjoy this beautiful day. How about some ice vream later??? Just deversion. It worked.

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Visiting nurses will give her a shower. Call her health ins. Or call pilgrim senior center. They can point you in the right direction

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Sometimes the become scared of showers. When I was in a support groups the kind of suggest baths— like where the sit in the chair and you pour water on them or sponge baths as it’s better than nothing.

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Maybe she can just take sponge baths,being elder my water coming out shower head,hurts my skin

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You can always reach out to the nursing home staff, and ask how they combat it and maybe give you some pointers.

1 nursing home will have the same issue
2 every person with dementia ends up scared of water or the shower for some reason the big thing is going to be making it part of her routine bye seeing if being blunt (you stink and need a shower) or I have used well it’s Sunday and we want to be clean to go to church if your mom liked church
Worse comes to worse look up bed baths and maybe think about a bath instead of a shower sometimes those work better

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What’s her biggest aversion? Make it more like a spa and less like a chore. Warm the towels, let her pick out her soaps and shampoos, it’s a trial and error process unfortunately. OP I have worked with elderly adults with dementia for most of my career in healthcare for the last ten years. Message me if you want or need!

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Does she like to swim? If so then you need to shower before you can swim. Or find something she enjoys and use it as a exciting we’ve got to get clean for the outing.

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We had the same experience with my mil she kept getting infections and sadly we eventually had to put her in a nursing home. We made sure to visit daily and bring home cooked food

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Will she let you wash her one arm and leg at the time. I call it dry cleaning she use to do when she was a little girl.That is a start,just maybe advance to a shower.

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Contact your insurance company and see if they can get a visiting nurse to come a few times a week for showering. They are trained in this.

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I used to have a dementia resident at my old job that didn’t want to shower, I’d tell her it was her “spa time” and make a big deal about how beautiful she is and how nice her hair was going to look and just constantly keep her talking the entire time. It USUALLY worked.

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What is something she would just love to have, but isn’t supposed to ? My grandpa loved beer, but wasn’t supposed to have it. So I would buy him beer, and tell him he could have it if he showered. Worked every time. Just a tall boy, is all it took.

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My Gran had a home health nurse come to help my Aunt give a shower

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Fear of water is common for dementia patients. Bathing wipes or 8 washcloths in a large baggie with a bit of soap and warm water might be the way to go

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Why not go to a nursing home and ask them the questions u need answers to due to they deal with many disorderes

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I am a caregiver. I’ve been doing this for years now. I would suggest first speaking with her doctor to see if there’s some medication that can help with the anger. I don’t know if you are helping her in the shower or if she doesn’t herself. If she is doing it herself it likely is very overwhelming for her. Maybe you could offer to help her. Also if she doesn’t want help from a family member because of modesty sometimes it helps to have someone who is outside the house come in such as an aide. It’s also good to make her think that it’s her idea. Maybe tell her you’re going somewhere special and in order to go you need to be clean. Also call your local area on aging agency. There are a lot of programs that can help. Most importantly hang in there! Make sure you’re taking time for yourself. Having a loved one with dementia is a very difficult thing. Seek counseling if necessary and best of luck to you and your family

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Try even wash cloth baths in bed the days you can’t get her in the bath.

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Maybe a bubble bath with toys, telling her that she deserves whst she loves. Like child psychology for children

Which part of showers is she against? Maybe the heat needs to be turned up so when she gets out it isn’t freezing and so unpleasant… Maybe some goggles to keep the water from getting in her eyes… A hair dryer to quickly dry her off…

She should qualify for dementia care, In which a home health aide will come in & help her shower, change clothes, change bedding, do laundry, get prescriptions or groceries, take her to Dr appointments, & even cook get small meals if needed.

My mom is currently going thru the same with my grandmother. She gets unscented or powder scented baby wipes & wipes my grandmother down everywhere before helping her get dressed on the days the aid doesn’t come & it helps a lot.

Please don’t put her in a home. She won’t last long & will be terrified. I know it’s hard but it won’t last forever.

Good luck & God bless you for being an Awesome caretaker :bouquet:

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I’ve worked as a carer for a long time and the most common reason someone refuses a shower is the cold. They don’t like to be cold. Show them the bathroom is warm, have the shower running for the steam, have the towel and clothes on a radiator. Promise it will be less than 5 minutes, bring in a clock if u have to. Also contact ur public health nurse or community nurse to organize home help if u don’t have it.

Also elderly people don’t sweat like we do and so usually don’t need as many showers, usually there’s incontinence then obviously it’s a little more important. I wouldn’t overly stress though because she’ll pick up on it and then a shower becomes a stressful occurance. If her skin is good, no sores or redness, rashes etc then again I wouldn’t overly stress. The key is to find out why she’s refusing, but as said above 9/10 times is the cold.

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I suggest a home health aide who is experienced with dementia patients

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Sometimes an anxiety medication just one hour prior to bathing makes one heck of a difference only used on shower days of course also I suggested they have aides that will come out just on shower days I would check into that and maybe once she gets back into the routine you’ll be able to assist further down the road

Sponge baths just do it if it takes 2 to phys hold her and use waterless shpoo

Will she let you wipe her down at least? I’ve had to start showering my grandma and doing a lot of things for her and I know it’s tough, so im praying for you and your mom! :purple_heart:

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My dad has Alzheimer’s and sometimes honey ya just do it. You have to remember they are not themselves. They need a good show at least once a week.

My dad was in a skilled care unit and they couldn’t get him to shower no matter what. Try sponge baths

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Maybe something like this?
My youngest kid has SPD and we had a really tough time bathing him for a while. We used rinseless shampoo and body wash for a while.

You rub it on hair/skin then wipe off with a wash cloth or towel.

ETA. This is not the same as a dry shampoo.

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If she doesn’t want to shower maybe use a wash cloth or wet wipes? Before I knew my son was autistic he HATED getting in the bath and me cleaning him up. I would use wipes to clean him up in between baths. I know the situation is very different but that’s what experience I have with someone who doesn’t like baths or to get wet. My son is better about baths now, likes them even luckily.

Best wishes for you and your mother

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A lady i cared for i had this issue, the trick i used was music and singing i picked songs from her era the family was surprised i knew songs that were over 70 years old :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Don’t give her the option to say no. Just bring her in the shower and tell her what is going to happen. If you ask her she will say no.

Unfortunately my mom and I had to put my grandma her mom into a retirement/ nursing home due to her dementia and weakness in her legs honestly it’s not what we planned but it’s best for her safety

I would talk with her Dr about how to safely get her to shower. Do not just give her medication she isn’t prescribed.

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I worked with a dementia patient for two years and it was hard to even get her to go to the bathroom unfortunately if she is violent try sponge baths while she is in bed and just shower her when she is willing

You have make showing a happy and safe place for her. Shower her with love.

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Baby wipes. Doing it for her

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Following because I am caring for my grandfather, who is 80 and has dementia as well. We cannot get him to take a shower and it’s starting to get really bad. We have been to specialist after specialist and there isn’t a whole lot of medication out there for dementia patients that helps with things like this. My grandfather qualifies for in home care but he will not allow it. He has his good days and bad days and some days, you would never know he has it. Although I know it will get worse and we will probably have to end up getting some kind of help but for now, we are just handling it ourselves.

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Warm bowl of water with soap and another with just water to clean the wash cloth off. I do this with the gentleman I take care of. Then in between I use Wipes and that dry soap to wash him down

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In a nursing home they can’t fight her either it’s technically illegal we had one guy that hated showers we had to get a dr note to be allowed to “force” Him in and they had to drug him. It was no fun for anyone involved. Maybe ask her dr for some sort of sedative maybe that can help. Use wash clothes everyday and she’ll at least be cleaner. Maybe a hair day to get her hair done so it’s washed every other week or something. Something is better than nothing. But as they get older they don’t sweat. That generation really couldn’t shower daily so it’s normal to them.

A lot of older ladies like to maintain their privacy and dignity. Perhaps try giving her plenty of towels to cover up with and only undress top or bottom at a time. Could she leaver her underwear on?

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You never tell them what to do, you ask first or make them think it’s there idea.

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I use to get in the shower with my dad . The home he was in rushed him and scared him but when my sister and I took our time and then I was in there ( with my bathing suit on) he was not happy but would co operate . He trusted us.

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We tell our patient we are putting meds on him for itching so we can at least clean him as much as we can. Everyone is different when it comes to Dementia/ Alzheimer’s. Buy those shampoo caps from amazon it wrks with washing there hair… Wish ya the best of luck.

I work in a care facility, and as much as I was against them I now care for people the way I would want my grandmother treated, I make sure the bathroom is super warm and comfortable of them if they can walk try having them come into the room with maybe sign a song get them happy never push or argue. Sometimes it takes time to get it down.

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I struggle with the same issues with my brother-in-law. He was born with special needs and it has recently been “suggested” that he has Parkinson’s and dementia symptoms (can’t be formally diagnosed due to his lifelong MR), if he says that he doesn’t want to get up out of his chair, I can’t force him. However, he LOVES to have sweets (diabetic) so, I tell him that if he wants, whatever, we need to do these things first. Some days it works, some days not so much. Either way, I understand that the ick factor is real! I literally just give him a “whore bath” anytime I take him in to use the restroom!!!

And just because you put her in a nursing home won’t necessarily mean she will get a shower there either they have a right to refuse a shower there also

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Michael Pearson must be common with dementia

Find something she likes to do and not do it until she takes a shower. My husband liked to go for rides in the car. I b told him we can’t go until you take a shower. I had to be firm but it worked.

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It’s not unusual for dementia patients to resist showering. It’s overwhelming to them. I would look into having a home health aide come help, or do a bed bath. Get a basin of water, washcloths, soap, and a towel… give her a good scrub while she’s still in bed. She may resist a little bit still, but not as much as stripping naked in the bathroom and getting in a chilly shower. The water may be warm, but the bathroom fixtures and porcelain feel cold. I was a nursing assistant when I was in high school and became a nurse later on in life and worked in nursing homes so I know what you’re going through. Good luck.

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I have worked with Memory cate for years, most of the time in nursing homes it ends up just making them take one. I know it sounds harsh, but it is unhealthy not to clean yourself. I have seen all these things listed work. But not everytime or most of the time, we would wash them up the best we could until they had to bathe. I will tell you all of them liked the lotion and fixing hair afterwards. What we did is try to find anyway to remind them of the past, not by talk but rituals they have done their whole lives. Did they shower in the morning, at night, everyday or whatever… I took care of 1 lady that always showered on Saturdays as her husband took her out to eat that night. So I would start in the morning talking about her night coming up, how we needed to get her hair fixed, blah blah blah… she would get excited and eventually. Consent to a bath. Also the shower hurts their skin so a bath seemed to always be better for them

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I dealt with the same issue…so I put the heater on for a bit.Put her on the toilet, took off all her clothes.Put towels all around on the floor.Soaped her up really good and rinsed her after.Yes u will have more towels to wash but it was so much easier than dealing with the fight :purple_heart:

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Hire someone that has experience and training. With out assessing what her issue is with it, what’s triggering her, I couldn’t tell you. We know she can’t tell you what triggering her.
Tho I will say 6/10 a parents issue is having their child wash them. Or maybe she needs a happy shower distraction.

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Tell her you’ve received “spa” products and would like to try them on her! That always worked for me with several patients. You can make it serene and fun! Good luck! :four_leaf_clover::green_heart:

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Have you tried a bath vs. a shower? I tend to think it’s something with the spray of water vs. sitting calmly in a warm tub.

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Honestly it is very hard to talk some people with dementia into a shower. Like a lot of others mentioned maybe it’s an issue with being uncomfortable naked. My advice is getting some bath towels and trying a sponge bath or if she’s that old maybe you can talk her into a “bird bath” as my great grandma called it. Shed fill the sink with warm soapy water and another basin with plain warm water and shed wash up that way and only actually showered once a week or so even before she got dementia.

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Try singing to her or making it fun with music and dancing from her past. Maybe get some of the kids shower paints and have her make some nice wall art.

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my best friend is a hospice home health nurse and i asked her opinion and i’ll post the screen shot.

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Do you have a shower seat and non slip mat in the shower? Not sure where you live but if you talk to her Doctor she might be able to get home care and have a CCA go in to help her get clean. For now would she let you give her a sponge bath and maybe rinse her hair in the sink? Also assure her she is safe and maybe set a day or two a week for showers and put it in the calendar so she can see it’s shower day. Or maybe try negotiating lol. I had a homecare client and I was the only one she would shower for but I would bring her favorite donut and show her then she’d grab my hand to go to the shower. Also not sure what your Mom did before retirement but in my personal experience retired nurses with dementia are difficult to care for as they’re so used to caring for others and don’t want to admit they need help.

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it’s all about approach, try to make it a fun experience warm up the bathroom keep her covered so she’s comfortable…is she on Ativan or anything you can give her before?

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Sponge baths, you could also make it a game for her. Alot of times with Demantia patients they hate the water they almost revert back to child like and you have to look at it as your giving your child a bath. I use to work with patients like this for years. Sometimes you just gotta take the hits with a grain salt they don’t know any better. I use to sing to them, talk in a gentle voice and attempt to make it fun for them and go as fast as possible. Maybe have someone go in with you and help you keep her from hitting you. The key is trying to keep them warm while you do it. When applying lotion after always put the lotion on the towel and just dry them off its a great technique when your trying to hurry and get them clean dried off and dressed. You pretty much gotta find whatever is going to work for her everyone is different so finding what works might take a few different times. Good luck momma

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Honestly it will take ALOT of convincing. Please don’t look into long term unless you have to. They’re going to force her out of her comfort zone and make her do it for the sake of having to have it done. I’ve had patients that we would tell them a loved one was coming by and they needed to get cleaned out, I’ve had some that only wanted to rinse off with wash cloths, and I’ve had some that you just have to bribe. Do some things she likes to do before hand to help her mood. If all else fails and you feel you have to make her it is honestly better for you to do so than a stranger.

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Maybe you can hire someone every 2 weeks?

A lot of redirecting. The way we were taught as easier methods was to talk to them about something else the entire time but speak in an excited tone. If they feel like they are being forced in to something, that’s can cause an aggressive outburst. But redirecting and alking about things they love (knitting, cooking, gardening, I had one resident who loved cats) redirected them so much that way they will be so involved in the conversation that they wont even realize they are being brought to the shower. I would always make sure I had the shower running for a bit to get the warm steam to fill the bathroom. Singing and dancing also helped with quite a few of my residents.

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I also suggest a home health aide that has experience with dementia patients.

As someone who’s worked with dementia patients for years, it’s definitely difficult for family in some cases. Some patients are excellent around family and struggle with strangers and for some it’s the complete opposite. I had one patient that refused to shower, said she didn’t need to, said she already had, etc. I literally just had to say okay great the bathroom’s ready we’re going to shower now and then we’re going to go do XYZ.

This isn’t a matter of wanting to get cleaned up, this is a hazard to their overall health and they need to get a proper shower at least once a week. The risk of UTI for elderly patients is already high and it can be extremely hard on their body and lead to further deterioration of their mental state.

This isn’t someone with sensory processing issues that just doesn’t want to, this is someone that genuinely cannot make sound decisions for themselves.

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With my dad we did a bed bath towards the end because he became non weight bearing they have soap for bed baths it’s a no rinse solution they also have like baby wipe kinds as well maybe that could help

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My mom will take showers. Some days hard to convince her. Some days she forgets how to turn it on. And won’t wash her hair. It’s hard.

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Could you try giving her a baby doll to bathe while you help her? Just a thought.

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I’m in the beginning stage with hubby. So far meds are helping some what. When I get upset I think how frustrating it must be for him. He only gets verbally nasty when he realizes he did something wrong.

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Some insurance will pay for a home care aid to help you. Dementia is also a sensory issue so maybe warm up the bathroom, and turn up the heater. I’ve done sponge baths and hired hair stylists to wash my patients hair just to do anything I could.

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Good luck with that. Gotta be stern with her. Do u physically bath her

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I’ve worked with dementia patients. Once they get to a certain point in the disease you may need help. Especially if she’s fighting. We had shower chairs we would put them in and roll them in the shower. I know you probably can’t do that at home. You may have to get a home health nurse just to help with baths a couple times a week at least. You don’t want her to get hurt or you. For the time being I would do bed baths. Just get you a small bucket with warm water and a few towels. Wash her the best you can.

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I went through this with my grandma, sponge baths are your best bet.

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That’s a very vulnerable thing it’s hard for people with dementia to let someone care for them like that especially when they’re already confused. Patience is my only suggestion maybe bring it up a few times before the actual event make it sound exciting

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Hire someone to come in and be “the bad guy”
I have a lot of experience in hospice and end of life care.
Find someone to come in and do just the tasks that make her angry. So that you can retain that mother daughter bond, and don’t fully take of the caregiver roll.

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Sponge baths. Do arms one day. Legs another. See if you can get a little done daily. You can also do it as “we want to put some lotion on but need to clean your skin first.” Then wash, dry and apply lotion.

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For the people that’s telling her to get an Aid or nurse to do it by law we are not allowed to give medicine or baths if they refuse it, regardless of the state of mind they are in, if the patient says no bath we cannot give them a bath

I’m a private carer your welcome to message me x

My love goes out to you. It’s hard to be a caregiver sometimes. I’d give advice but everyone has already given some awesome words. :heart:

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I had the absolute same issue with my mom. She hated bathing. I quickly realized it was no good threatening her. I would just go onto her bathroom, run a bath and then call her and say right, hop in. I’d try and be very light hearted about it. Of course she would resist but once in, she was fine and would always say how much better she feels when she’s clean. Good luck to you. It’s no easy dealing with dementia.

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How about a sponge bath? Warm soapy water several wash rags for each area, and then rinse out water and rags, put fresh water in, and then rinse. There is dry shampoo and leave in conditioner for the hair… maybe talk her into going to a hair salon to be pampered once or twice a month to get her hair done, and they shampoo and condition it…

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This is common…I took care of my Grandmother for almost a year & she had dementia & did not like to shower… She would get mean when she didn’t want to do something. Some days are better than others. We had bad days where she wasn’t cooperative
& some days when she didn’t want to shower. She had to shower every other day & I would have to convince her to come upstairs with me then undress her & put her in the shower & wash her. Sometimes you just have to force the person & just do it & just have them sit in a shower chair & speak calmly. Don’t let the mean words get to you because you know that they can’t help it if they act that way. My Grandmother could be feisty when she was having a hard time.

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Buy a red bath mat.tell her to stand on the red square.idk why this works but it did for one of my clients with dimentia.was a suggestion from the nursing home

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See if you can get home health once a week for bathing. They can get them to shower.

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We had gone through this with my grandma. We would give her bed baths. Sometimes if we could we would take her and get her hair done as well. There are also home health aides that can come in and help with showing and baths as well.

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Have you tried putting her in a bathing suit and say she going swimming or something like that

This one hits close to home. :pensive: First thing you need to do is make an appointment with her primary dr so you can explain the situation. He needs and YOU MUST INSIST he refers you to a home health company. Medicare covers a couple hrs a day. My MIL suffered from dementia also refused to shower with any of us and many times to eat. Her dr referred us (he/she needs to write up a script and explain why your mom needs care) to home health and she showered with the CNA without being combative. Go to Medicare.gov and see your options… walk in there informed. Good luck

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🫂…I’m caring for my aunt same issue. She will eventually get in a couple of times a week. I have to play games like… If we take a shower I’ll give you this… We talk about it a few times…she fake cries…I fake cry with her. I also make sure to set everything out so she can see her clean gown…I warm up the house and the bathroom. I also bought a shower seat… it helps.
I’m Praying for you both, this job of :heart: so hard!

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With alzheimers many patients are fear driven, especially with showering its important to stay calm give them control let her hold the shower head,buy a couple of different body washes have her smell them say things like this smells so beautiful if you use this you will smell beautiful ect its scary for them,approach is everything i worked 20+ years in nursing vast majority with alzheimers patients, when they feelforced it will escalate, stay calm,use distraction,give her some control, praise her !!!

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Have you gotten her in hospice care? They provide a LOT of services for the patient AND the family! I know it’s hard, but take the help where you can. You can’t take care of others for long unless you take care of yourself. Good Luck!

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We went thru this with my dad before he finally had to go to a home. Once he was put in a wheel chair and was unable to walk to the restroom, we could no longer take good care of his hygiene. We used to bribe him with candy. He got mad, call names, and he still does to the nurses in the home. But they manage to get him to stay clean, they take really good care of him. It’s so hard watching them regress to basically infants. I’ll pray for you all.

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do not mention water or shower and lead the person into the bathroom, have done this and it works.

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Can you maybe make a specific time for bath everyday or everyday second day and say hey mom I got your regular bath ready i worked in a home and that was our biggest struggle because obviously you can’t force anyone to do what they don’t want to and some people always thought they had it already. Maybe make a calander and put her shower day on it and mark off the ones she takes so you can bring her to it and say hey mom let’s get your bath in now because it’s bath days so you can relax later