Our loved ones reach an age where they can no longer continue doing the daily tasks that include bathing and keeping up with good hygienic practices. While you may be asking “why not”, our elderly loved ones enter a stage in their lives where mechanical movements become more difficult and strenuous. Our bodies eventually become more sensitive to movement making a simple shower a process that requires multiple steps and may require assistance. While you may be thinking about the personal benefits of a shower, and you may even be asking why a person would be avoiding a shower, you must try to understand the situation from their point of view. When thinking about showers our elderly individuals may not be thinking about the results of a shower, but rather they may be focused on the procedure and stress that a shower has come to pose. Hopping in and out of the shower becomes more and more stressful as a person ages, especially for those suffering from dementia and other brain disorders that add further complications. It is crucial to understand that our elderly loved ones endure different mental and physical pains that make a shower the least of their concerns.
If you are caring for an elderly person you will find that some of them will avoid daily hygienic tasks such as showering, brushing their teeth, shaving, or putting on a different set of clothing. For a multitude of reasons that are complicated by their age, you may find it difficult to convince the elderly to perform such tasks. At this point, you must remain calm, cool, and collected. Taking a step back to understand the elderly and assessing their situation may be the best way to tackle their resistance to showering and keeping up with their hygienic tasks.
After carefully assessing why your loved one has avoided a shower for so long, you may find that they are tired easily and that a shower poses a demanding physical stress. Elderly individuals who find it difficult to scrub, enter and exit a shower or bath, and/or are tired easily in the process of a shower, may require assistance from another person. Sadly, elderly individuals who can no longer shower on their own may be reluctant to have a close relative or another person assist during the shower procedure. Elderly individuals have a lot of self-respect and may find these helping acts to be demeaning or embarrassing.
In some cases, you may find that a shower poses a mental challenge causing your elderly loved one to have an irrational fear of water. When helping individuals with mental challenges it is imperative to remain patient and calm. Convincing someone to shower when they do not want to or because of a fear will prove to be a difficult task.
Whatever the case may be, examining the situation and talking to the elderly person will give you a better understanding of what is causing the individual to avoid hygienic practices. Individuals caring for their elderly mother, father, or another person may have found different techniques to encourage and assist the elderly to engage in hygienic practices. Some have found benefits by installing appropriate shower gear that is aimed at reducing the physical stress of a shower while others have found professional help to be more convenient.
Individuals who want to speak about our caregiving services are encouraged to contact our offices today at 323-244-4789. Mom’s Home Care has the capacity to provide qualified and highly trained staff to provide home care services for your loved ones, including helping them shower, brush their teeth, and keep up with other hygienic activities. In addition, we are capable of providing and installing home care assistance items to help make a bathroom safe and accessible for an elderly person.
The following section will discuss in more detail why an elderly person “quits” having regular showers and what can be done to help them keep up with daily hygienic practices. Remember that the more you understand what your elderly loved one is going through, the more prepared you will be to help the situation.
Why Does an Elderly Person Refuse to Shower?
Our caregivers have heard excuses from a to z as to why an elderly individual will avoid a shower and have found that with the right assistance there is little resistance. As mentioned earlier, there are many reasons as to why an individual will opt out of having a regular shower. Some individuals avoid showering and keeping up with hygienic practices for the following reasons:
A shower may pose a physical challenge
As we age our bodies change meaning that our skin becomes softer and more fragile; our bones, joints, and muscles lose some of their density and strength; our body posture changes making it more difficult to perform certain tasks; our teeth and gums are more sensitive; our immune system is weaker; and our mobility and muscle movement is also affected. Due to these complications, elderly people may find it difficult to balance and/or walk. Over time, our bodies change in many ways that seem alien for those still experiencing the benefits of strong bones, a fast metabolism, and endless energy. A person suffering from age may be viewing a shower as a great physical challenge that requires energy and stamina that they no longer possess. For the reasons mentioned above, a “simple” shower is no longer a commodity that an elderly person can enjoy which is why they may choose to live a life without regular hygienic practices.
Older individuals also face diseases that may affect their ability to move and perform daily hygienic tasks. Aside from losing the energy and will to shower, elderly individuals may view their shower or bath as a danger zone. Elderly individuals suffer from multiple physical diseases, the most common being osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and bone wounds. Elderly individuals suffering from age (loss of balance and energy) and who must endure a physically debilitating disease, may be viewing their shower and bath as a place where they can fall and cause greater damage to their conditions. Falling and breaking your bones after a certain age can have grievous consequences due to the fact that bones with age lose their ability to quickly repair.
A shower may pose a mental challenge
Individuals who refuse to shower may be facing additional complications that manifest in their brains. Aside from the physical changes that one encounters with age, the brain is an organ that is also prone to change, diseases, and mental syndromes. Older individuals are prone to dementia (a disease also commonly known as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's, Wernicke-Korsakoff, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, or Huntington’s disease) and other mental complications after the age of 60. In general, individuals suffering from dementia will suffer from one of the five characteristics of the disease:
- Aphasia: affects a person's ability to express themselves verbally. Often a person will be unable to understand others and will experience difficulty in reading or writing.
- Agnosia: affects memory and impairs an individual's ability to perceive and interpret information. For example, older individuals may lose the ability to recognize when their bladder is full causing them to miss a visit to the restroom.
- Anomia: affects the person's ability to talk and form words. Often a person will substitute words like a child with a limited vocabulary.
- Apraxia: affects a person motor skills and ability to perform certain tasks such as moving their mouth to speak.
- Amnesia: affects a person’s ability to retain memory. Individuals may not be able to recognize facts, family members face, or some of their personal history or events.
Older individuals suffering from dementia and other brain disorders may no longer possess logic that tells them when to shower or may be under the impression that they have already showered. As mentioned above, dementia and other brain conditions can lead to memory loss, a loss of perception and interpretation, and other symptoms that can complicate a hygienic lifestyle. Elderly people suffering from a brain condition will usually require supervision and assistance when taking a shower or bathing.
If your loved one is suffering from a mental condition and you or a family member cannot find time to adequately care for your loved one, you are encouraged to seek professional help. Our health caregivers understand the specific symptoms that arise from a mental disorder or mental disease which is why they practice patience and professionalism. Our staff is trained to help transport elderly people with moving disabilities to and from the restroom and they are trained to help individuals suffering from a speaking condition.
After considering the mental and physical conditions that an older person must endure, do you still think a shower is an easy task? If your answer is no, you are correct. Whether you are considering professional services or not, an elderly individual refusing to shower will most likely require the attention of someone who cares.
How to Make a Shower More Appealing
The shower room is a cold place that is often missing essential components that facilitate showering and bathing for older individuals. You might think physical and mental conditions are enough to keep an elderly person away from the restroom but there are other outside factors that can be controlled to make the bathroom more approachable by an elderly person. Convincing your loved one to shower may be a difficult task, but if you are determined to help them satisfy their hygienic needs you should consider the following :
- Room and water temperature: if you are running a shower for an elderly person it is obvious that the water temperature has to be right in the middle (not too hot or not too cold). What is not obvious, is that a shower room temperature can also be controlled to produce a more comfortable environment. Older individuals easily get the chills and after a warm shower especially after they are exposed to cold air which can cause a common cold. Making sure the water and bathroom temperature are at a comfortable degree will improve your chances of convincing your loved one to shower.
- Control water speed setting: Older individuals have soft and more fragile skin which is why it is important to adjust the water speed setting prior to having them step into the shower.
- Installing appropriate shower gear (place to sit, support devices to hold on to): As mentioned earlier, showers may pose a physical toll that can easily be aided by adding certain objects to your restroom. Our loved ones can be convinced of showering if they can do it on their own terms so it may be in your best interest to supply your restroom with shower seats, bath stools, grab bars, transfer seats, tub rails, special scrubbing devices. Adding these additional amenities to your bathroom will allow your loved one to take showers with less physical stress.
- Using the right shampoo: Young individuals may use body wash for their hair and shampoo to wash their bodies. However, older people have more delicate skin and hair which is why they need to be treated with products that do not cause irritation on the skin or hair. We recommend using baby shampoo and other products that are light on chemicals.
- Making sure that you and your loved one is calm: If you are helping an older person shower, it is crucial to practice patience so that your loved one is calm throughout the process. Remember that in many cases, an older individual will feel embarrassed or somehow disturbed when having someone help them shower.
Taking these steps will ensure that your restroom and the showering process becomes more appealing for the elderly person in your life. If you are caring for an elderly person, you are always encouraged to take a step back and assess the situation they are going through. Often times you will find that their situation is highly affected by their age and that they usually have no control over the circumstances. If you are unable to keep up with the demands of caring for an older individual, you may give us a call to discuss how we can help you and your family. We understand the various complications that arise with age and we are ready to help you care for your loved one.
Mom's Home Care can be reached at 323-244-4789. We are ready to provide any health caregiving service your loved one may require.