Getting mum to have a shower.

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Moorcroft, May 22, 2016.

  1. Moorcroft

    Moorcroft Registered User

    Nov 4, 2015
    This problem has stumped me and my brother. Mum washes herself at a sink, but refuses to use a shower. As a result she is clean enough not to smell, but we suspect her frequent attacks of cystitis are at least partially caused by her poor hygiene.

    Last week she moved home to be closer to me. In her old bungalow, she would use the shower, but only briefly. Basically, she stood under it long enough to get wet, but didn't properly wash. Her new bungalow has a lovely ensuite, but she has used excuse after excuse to avoid using it. I've offered to help her, but she turns me down.

    She isn't so incapable that we could insist on a care worker washing her, and we've run out of ideas to get her to shower herself (the shower has a grab rail, non-slip mat, step into it, etc.).

    We are waiting for an occupational therapy assessment, and I'm pinning my hopes on them having some ideas.
  2. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    Some people with dementia are afraid of water, at least of the one that comes from above. I'm afraid you can't use rationale, you just need to find other ways of keeping her clean. If making the bathroom warm and inviting doesn't work and she won't take baths either, allow her to use wet wipes or do what she does now. After all, daily showers aren't necessary unless someone is incontinent.
  3. Moorcroft

    Moorcroft Registered User

    Nov 4, 2015

    She has expressed interest in a walk-in bath, so maybe installing one that is what we need to do. But, it would be an expensive solution, and we have some scepticism about whether she'd actually use it. If we could establish that it is specifically water 'from above' that is the problem, we'd feel more confident that the expenditure would be worthwhile.
  4. Cathy62

    Cathy62 Registered User

    Oct 10, 2015
    My mum hasn't had access to a shower/bath or flushing loo since January due to her stairlift breaking because of her weight. She's now having to use a chemical loo which I empty every other day (heavy too !!!) and I have to help her with a strip wash each day. She doesn't smell (much) but being slightly bladder incontinent I wish she could have a good soaking. Don't worry too much ... If your mum is happy just washing at the moment I wouldn't get too stressed. Her mood may change in the future. Hugs to you.
  5. CynthsDaugh

    CynthsDaugh Registered User

    May 5, 2015
    Salford, Lancashire
    I have the same with my Mum, although I do manage to get her to have a shower once a week by saying her hair DEFINITELY needs washing. She always grumbles though. Tbh as long as she does have a strip wash at the sink everyday I'm OK with that.
  6. Tanna

    Tanna Registered User

    Apr 24, 2016
    Dosnt want to shower/wash

    Hi my mil moved in with us over a year ago and showering/ washing has been a major headache. We didn't notice any smell until she moved in. She has made lots of excuses eg I showered yesterday, then I will when you install a shower rail, when you do this or that, tomorrow after lunch etc none of it worked, (she has her own bathroom with shower) so I would think having a bath installed would be a mistake. I did manage after days and weeks of bribing and coxing to get my mil upstairs and into our bath but she then got stuck??? and we had to get the ambulance people to lift her out.
    Then she started saying she felt ill and would faint or fall asleep in front of us, anything to avoid WASHING. She smells. I managed to persuade her to get washed with my help and sat her on a seat in the bathroom in front of the sink however again, like in the bath was became a dead weight and couldn't get up from the seat???? she is 3 stone more than I am.
    She doesn't use soap. I bought wipes that are used in care homes and she screwed one up into a tiny ball and rubbed half heartedly at her face then said she wouldn't be using those. Dementia is very cruel disease, she was a very clean proud lady and would never believe this could possible happen, unfortunately it has. I wish you luck. I think apart from at first when she moved in, my mil thought she had showered? she remembered showering? must have been recently? I think the brain part that normally tells us to get washed is switched off if that makes sense.
  7. mancmum

    mancmum Registered User

    Feb 6, 2012
    Do not get a walk in bath

    Specialist disability support legs and reputable suppliers will not recommend them:-(. Water takes a long time to get in. Once full they take a long time to drain. They are difficult for the physically trail to lock and to enter and exit. Get your mum assessed by local authority before spending on aids yourself.
  8. Moorcroft

    Moorcroft Registered User

    Nov 4, 2015
    Thanks for that information. We'll wait and see what Occupational Therapy advise us.
  9. mymemories

    mymemories Registered User

    Apr 23, 2016
    Hi Moorcroft, I had a similar thing with my Mum. Your Mum may feel embarrassed with you helping her. I know with my Mum this was a factor until I explained to her that we are both the same and she has nothing to be embarrassed of. When I help her I talk to her about everything and nothing just to her to take her mind off of the whole process. I also found that if the bathroom is warm it seemed to help. When I say warm, it probably will feel hot to you but it would be a small price to pay.
    Another thing I did, was to purchase a shower head that Mum could hold in her hand but then when others wanted to use it then it can be put on one of those riser rails so it can be adjusted. I also make sure the towels are warm, so when she comes out I could wrap the warm towels around her. These all seem to work for her at the moment, how long it will last is another story.
    I don't know if you could be 'cleaning' the en-suite whilst your Mum is in the shower so she knows you are there but not actually showering her.

    I hope you have some success, but it is a difficult. You may have to continue as you are but keep offering, in the hope one day she takes you up on it.

    Hope the OT assessment goes well.
  10. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    Hi Moorcroft, is it possible your mum has forgotten how to use the shower? It happened to OH, so I had to put it on and turn it off again for him. My next shower will have controls accessible from outside the actual shower!
    You also say she has just moved, so maybe just doesn't understand the new shower, even though it may be exactly the same as the last one. I wouldn't get a bath, btw. It's probably just an excuse!
    OH also liked warm shower room and warm towels, though luckily it was rarely a problem to get him to take a shower!
  11. jalmaj

    jalmaj Registered User

    Aug 3, 2014
    south wales
    Shower how to

    I wonder if it is because she has forgotten how to shower, sounds silly but i have to stand and tell mum what to do, sometimes doing it
  12. TooHard

    TooHard Registered User

    Sep 16, 2015
    It may be a battle you will not win.

    Mum hasn't had a bath or shower in over two years. She's been in hospital twice in that time and I told her named nurse and begged them to try to get her showered or bathed but mum said 'no' so that was the end of that. We offered to have the bath removed and a walk in shower installed, then offered to convert her bathroom to a wet room but both suggestions were refused. We also suggested getting someone in to help her just the same as she had helped organise for my grandpa when mum and her sister wouldn't countenance him not bathing but, again, that was a 'no'.

    I provided wipes but a combination of visual impairment (mum is nearly blind) and dementia means she can't open them even if they have clicky lids and I remove the inner cover. She cuts the packs open and leaves them to dry out so they're useless.

    Mum has bladder incontinence and frequent bowel issues (not entirely sure what they are but the evidence is often all over the bathroom) so it really bothers me that she is not washing properly. She claims she manages fine at the sink but there is no cloth or sponge (the ones I've provided have all disappeared) and her lack of mobility (bending etc) means she cannot possibly be washing properly.

    This is yet another thing that is both infuriating and heart breaking about this damned disease. I hate the fact that my mother, who used to be SO particular (and very, very critical of those who were not) is now dirty in herself and increasingly wearing dirty clothes (can't use the washing machine or tumble dryer, can't see whether clothes are soiled and refuses help with laundry).

    Mum lives alone and is currently refusing any sort of help so I hope the fact that your mother lives with you allows you to over-come this challenge.
  13. Julia B

    Julia B Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
    Hi, get a carer in, MiL refused for months after moving in with us to the extension we built " are you saying I smell, will have one later, just had one, don't like showers, don't like baths" so the CPN confirmed to us that UTI's are very likely with only strip washes ( never evidence that she did that either ) so we advised that the carer was there to check she doesn't slip or fall, my husband is her carer and neither of us can get her into the shower yet Sarah can - no excuses accepted, its her job and she is firm and MiL looks so much better - Sarah even gets her dirty clothes ( she refused to give me them in case the others (its our house, but she thinks its a care home we run) take them.. I'm so happy to pay her to come twice a week, I think MiL had forgotten the process of a shower and Sarah is great with in future as her needs increase she's comfortable with care...its so hard, I feel for you, proud, clean and independent loved ones needing help like this is sad, and so unfair...but keep caring as you do, its the best we can do, take care x
  14. Princess t

    Princess t Registered User

    Mar 15, 2016
    After reading these posts I never thought....silly me that my mom might have forgotten how to shower......its been over three weeks since she's had one, she does strip wash and has her hair done every two weeks. She has forgot how to operate washing machine and dish washer. So might be that!
  15. LadyA

    LadyA Registered User

    Oct 19, 2009
    There can be "modesty " issues too - my late husband just hated being undressed in front of anyone. I let him have a light bathrobe on in the shower, and used it, when it was wet, as a washcloth! Occasionally, he was happy with just a towel around his waist, but mostly it had to be a bathrobe.
  16. Moorcroft

    Moorcroft Registered User

    Nov 4, 2015
    Thanks for all the replies.
  17. banger696

    banger696 Registered User

    Sep 17, 2015
    North East
    Interesting read.
  18. JohnBG

    JohnBG Registered User

    Apr 20, 2016
    Lancashire UK
    Wet room.

    We tried a wet room idea, my mother paid for a handrail from floor to ceiling,now refuses to use the bathroom, happy with a strip down wash. We have carers so part of that time was for them to help wash her, she does like the attention now plus the notion of being clean.

    It does remind me of my three children when young as they too never wanted to get in the bath, some time later you cannot get them out, it is challenging for our loved ones to accept this process as they do not understand. I do what keeps my mother calm plus that list is growing.

    Take care, John.
  19. Aisling

    Aisling Registered User

    Dec 5, 2015
    Please try not to be stressing yourself so much re showers. Your Mum may not like showers. She is washing herself in her way so I wouldn't be stressing her. Just a thought, if you have a bath would she like to have a bath? Bathroom has to be cosy, warm etc. personally I don't like showers anymore so a short quick dip suits me!! My idea of hell is a wet room. We are all so different. My Dad RIP used to tell us we would wash ourselves away when we were teenagers and destroy the oils in our skin. I now think he was correct.

  20. MemoryPony

    MemoryPony Registered User

    Jul 10, 2016
    the shower argument

    It is a comfort to know my struggle is not unique. Mom loved showering and now it is a battle. The string of excuses...the bartering, bribing, cajoling...all familiar stories. :( If it weren't for her frequent UTI's due to incontinence I wouldn't be as insistent but ultimately it is her health at stake. And I know when she does relent and get in the shower she still loves them. My issue is she insists she is showering and I have no way to be 100% sure she isn't. I put up a calendar and ink pen in the bathroom indicating she should write down when she showers but she never does. These kinds of tracking lists have worked well with medications and eating, but not the showers. Which also makes me think she isn't doing as she claims. So my next thought is to put a motion-sensor with a remote messaging that would tell me when she has gone into the shower. My husband is researching these. Has anyone considered or used technology like this?

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