can't get mum to wash!


Registered User
Jan 14, 2010
East Kent
Hi Nici,
In some ways, the bathing issue is a symptom of your mother's anxiety and confusion. The whole process of disrobing (and how to actually dress and undress can become an issue for many people with dementia at some point), feeling cold and vulnerable, plus any fear of water that can develop - all those things could put someone off the idea of a bath.
that was the case with my mum,couple of yrs ago I STOPPED trying to get mum in the bath, mum has only had wash downs since then.I also try to ensure that mum top half is covered with a towel whilst im doing other parts, I also use a product called No rinse which has been a boon for us.

mum still hates being washed but can no longer do anything about it :(


Registered User
Sep 25, 2010
washing problems

It was interesting to read these various accounts and to compare notes.
My charge is highy reluctant to be washed, likewise to eat. Sleeps msot of the day. Seems uninterested in everything. So I am wondering what the next stage should be because clearly this cannot continue indefinitely. I manage to get him to drink a high energy drink (200 calories) most days and an occasional large glass of skimmed milk. Maybe a care home is the answer, or maybe a day care centre where at lest there would be some stimulation.


Registered User
Dec 20, 2009
Wembley, Middlesex
Help with washing

Hi Nici,

I recongnise the anguish both you and your father are going through, as I experienced the same issue with my mum who has vascular dementia.

She will no longer have a bath, and we stopped trying many months ago. Here are a few things I do which may help:

(a) Sit mum on commode in bathroom to have a wash
(b) Make sure bathroom is nice and warm and not stuffy, and also well lit but not too bright
(c) Have prepared warm bath and hand towels to put around her when sitting on commode to help relax her.
(d) When undressing my mum we try to ensure she is covered at all times, so she does not feel so vulnerable. But we do it in stages, such as the socks when washing the feet and once washed we put a clean pair on straight away before trying the top.
(e) Start with washing the hands first in a warm bowl of water to try and get her to relax, and then the feet. When washing the hands I encourgae my mum to take the face cloth for her to wash her face, or I offer her the favourite moisturiser to put on her face.
(f) Some days I will find my mum will not want to wash certain parts of the body, and so you bear this in mind for the next day and try and do these. If some days my mum does not want a wash then that is fine as well. I HAVE LEARNT YOU HAVE TO GO WITH THE FLOW.
(g) Finally, the routine (i.e. order and way in which we help to wash my mum) I have devised to help my mum have a wash we follow every day, so at least there is a chance she will follow what is going on.

Also, you mentioned your mum does not like changing into her night clothes for bed. My mum is the same, and so we do not try this anymore. However, one idea I came up with which works really well is that we do change my mum's skirt for an apron so at least she still feels she has a skirt on, which makes her more comfortable in bed. We change this when my mum is on the commode before she goes to bed.

I hope some of these tips come in handy. They may not work all of the time but you may find it makes life somewhat easier.