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Bad Behavior - Refusing to Shower

 

The issue of elders who were once reasonably clean refusing to take showers, wear fresh clothes and take care of personal hygiene is one that is far more common than most people think - and it's very frustrating for caregivers.

 

 

 

Photo by Skyler King on Unsplash

 

Sometimes the issue is depression. Another factor is control. As people age, they lose more and more control over their lives. But one thing they generally can control is dressing and showers. The more they are nagged, the more they resist.


A decreased sense of sight and smell may be causing the problem. What your nose picks up as old sweat, they don't even notice. Or, memory could be to blame. The days go by. They aren't marked with tons of activities, there isn't something special about Wednesday – it could be Tuesday or Thursday – they lose track of time and don't realize how long it's been since they showered.


Another big issue can be fear or discomfort: Fear of slipping in the tub; or embarrassment about asking for help.


What to do:
The first step is to determine why they have stopped bathing. If they have lost their sense of smell, see your doctor. Medications your parent is taking, or some unrelated disorder may be at fault for a loss of smell.


If depression is the cause, seek professional help. Therapy and medications can help. If modesty is a problem and the elder doesn't want a family member helping her take a bath, because it's far too intimate, they may be open to having an in-home care agency coming in for the sole purpose of a bath.
If they are afraid of the water (or sitting in the tub), there are many types of shower chairs that can help.


If the person is in a demented state and afraid while bathing, then you must move gently. Don't insist on a shower or bath. Begin with just asking if you can wipe off the person's face. Gradually move to under-arms and other parts of the body, talking and telling them what you are doing as you go.


Do your best to keep your parent clean. However, too much nagging is counter-productive, and at the end of the day you may have to lower your standards and definition of cleanliness.

 
 

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