Refusing to get showered

Discussion in 'Middle - later stages of dementia' started by shark2, May 24, 2015.

  1. shark2

    shark2 Registered User

    Aug 22, 2012
    n ireland
    Mum has been in care home for 5 weeks now. It has been really hard and each time I visit she's nasty and wanting to go home. In saying that, she has also told me she likes it there, the staff are lovely and the food is great. Staff say shes happy and joining in which I'm relieved to hear.

    At home she wasn't washing and she has started to refuse to get showered in the home. I visited yesterday and her hair was awful. I said about it but she was adamant she had showered herself.:confused: . Any suggestions?
  2. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Refusing to wash/shower (and usually claiming to have already done it) is a really common symptom of dementia. If she is in a care home I would speak to the CH manager about this.
  3. Grey Lad

    Grey Lad Registered User

    Sep 12, 2014
    North East Lincs
    Same happening here with refusal to shower and claims that my O H has had one when she hasn't.
  4. Angela T

    Angela T Registered User

    Jul 13, 2014
    Same with my mother who is in a NH - staff tell me that she frequently becomes verbally and physically aggressive when they try to wash/shower her.

    Yes, it does seem to be a symptom of dementia - lack of self-care, lack of personal hygiene...
  5. min88cat

    min88cat Registered User

    Apr 6, 2010
    My MIL refused showers at the NH to begin with. They decided to try her with a bath instead which she loved. It was probably beacause she always had a bath at home because and wasn't used to showering or possibly because she became water phobic at some point I'm not sure, but a nice soak in a bath always tempted her.
  6. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    MIL was always a showerer not a bather. In hospital she showered. In her first CH they only washed residents thoroughly once a week and she started to look very dirty, especially her hair. We think she had lost the ability to cope with the process unassisted. The staff were happy to let her manage by herself although they told us they assisted her. They were lying. Probably just calling to her from outside the door, definitely not hands-on assistance.

    Once at her current CH she was assessed as needing full assistance. We asked that she be showered because that had been her preference, but it was not a success. She got distressed and aggressive and refused to wash. She was desperately embarrassed about strangers witnessing what she felt should be entirely private, but she just couldn't manage by herself.

    She now has assisted bathing which involves hoisting into a special bath. We thought she would freak out at this but apparently she loves it. The staff make it a pamper session and she feels good about it. If they appeared rushed or impatient she would get angry and refuse to comply but because they are skilled at making it seem a lovely treat she feels special when it is her turn for a bath. I think it really helps that the room has no windows, strangely, because she feels safe, but it is a large room so is not claustrophobic. They make it really warm as well so no chilled wet skin to make her feel uncomfortable.
  7. patsy56

    patsy56 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2015
    Fife Scotland
    Mother won't bath or shower, has always worn glasses and says it is the water in her eyes, but no she just won't wash.
  8. reedysue

    reedysue Registered User

    Nov 4, 2014
    Same here, mum washes every day but does not like to shower or wash her hair.
  9. shawshank

    shawshank Registered User

    May 24, 2015
    Same issue here with my father - I was asked by the staff to persuade him to shower/bathe not long after he moved to the CH.

    I was pessimistic that he would take any notice of me whatsoever! So, was very surprised to be successful in persuading him to shower with staff assistance.

    What seemed to help was politely but firmly telling him rather than asking.

    Not engaging in the 'but I had a shower this morning' 'I don't need any help' etc

    Giving him the choice of a bath or a shower but not a choice of over timing 'I'll have one later/tomorrow' etc

    Referring to the care staff as 'nurses' - with their permission as, he doesn't grasp the role of the staff.

    What really surprised me and the staff was just how much help he needed - he couldn't organise himself to get ready and into the bathroom or to actually wash himself once he was in the shower. So his long term poor hygeine at home hadn't just been down to forgetting to or lack of motivation.

    He has continued to be fairly co-operative as long as the staff are female and maintain the fiction that they are nurses - there are no male nurses in my fathers world!

    Of course, this may not be at all helpful in your situation and also it's early days in the settling process.
  10. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    My OH is fairly compliant with his care but even he always says no first to his daily morning shower. I have no choice, he's incontinent and I cannot let him go unshowered in the morning so I have to be blunt and say "you stink" and push him towards the tub. Once he's in, he's fine. An hour ago I conversationally asked whether he wanted a bath. He said yes. I couldn't believe my luck when he went in like a lamb, leaned back and sighed happily. Got his hair washed and all! I might make this a weekly occurrence now.
  11. shark2

    shark2 Registered User

    Aug 22, 2012
    n ireland
    #11 shark2, May 24, 2015
    Last edited: May 24, 2015
    Thanks everyone. She allowed the staff to shower her when she first went in but is having none of it now :eek: It might be a dignity thing as she would be a very private person. The staff are lovely and are trying their best with her. She also won't let them help with her dressing in the morning. I went to see her on Saturday and she hadn't a bra on.:eek: Lifted her jumper up to show me :rolleyes: (and anyone else in the vicinity lol) She obviously couldn't put it on herself and wouldn't let them help. I spoke to the staff about it but I don't suppose they can force her .

    If my mother knew how she looks and realised she wasn't washing she would be mortified...:mad:
  12. Angela T

    Angela T Registered User

    Jul 13, 2014
    My mother refuses to wear a bra. I bought her several new ones, in a smaller size since she has lost so much weight, but she never wears them.

    It probably is a dignity thing, as you say... I can sympathise with that. It must be tough to have to rely on carers for all these intimate care needs...
  13. LYN T

    LYN T Registered User

    Aug 30, 2012
    Brixham Devon
    Yes this is very common with Dementia sufferers. To start with my OH didn't shower because he didn't know how to turn the shower on/what to do when he got there! That was resolved by me helping him. The next problem was hearing the water running-it scared him-another common fear. He was QUITE compliant in the CH as he was hoisted into the bath (and the water was always run before he got there). Many things to consider I'm afraid-but so difficult to deal with.

    Take care

    Lyn T XX
  14. Blondebomber

    Blondebomber Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    My Mother will make any excuse for not getting into the shower, she will be too tired or has already had one..not. The times that she agrees it is....hooray...shampoo out...and before she realises there is a dollop of shampoo on her head and off we go for the quickest shampoo and set in the world. I might add that I do it in my nightie as I end up almost as wet as she is...she has, I might add really thick hair....which I cut as she refuses to go to the hairdressers or have a mobile attend.My Mum has loads of hair bands and pretty slides but no, she wears those silver crocodile clips used in Hair Salons. BTY I also attend to Dad with Alzheimers who also hates the shower...but that's another story.
  15. steiffbear

    steiffbear Registered User

    Aug 18, 2014
    My mum hadn't had bath or shower for months as she'd had one, the doctor told her she might fall ect ect. I finally managed to wash her in the mornings whilst she was sat on the toilet, after she'd used it. I had to finally take her to a local hairdressers as she had a scalp problem. I now take her every two weeks, which is getting harder as there is a deep step into the salon and her mobility is getting worse. Does the home have a hairdresser?
  16. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    My Mum 74 with moderate AD has opposite problems.
    Will often have a shower or bath twice a day because she has forgotten, but will wash her hair once a week if that, and even then I don't know how well she is washing or rinsing it. Her often looks lanky and unkempt.
    I take her every 4 weeks for a shampoo, cut and blow wave which she loves, but can't afford to do so every week.
    The constant bathing is cusing her skin to get dry, and not drying between her toes gives her tinea. Its a vicious circle.
    Really she needs me there every day to supervise, because Dad cannot, but in reality I can't be there every day either.

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