Won't take a shower

Colette

Registered User
Dec 13, 2004
1
My Father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier this year. I am an only child and my Mother died when I was 18, so there is only me and my Dad really. We do not live together.

We have had many obstacles to face and overcome during the year but so far so good. However, I have now come up against something that I can't solve.

About 4 months ago, my Father stopped showering or having a bath regularly. As he also has Arthritis and once had a lot of trouble getting out of the bath, I had his bath removed and a big walk in shower installed. It is the simplest I could find to operate and have fixed it so that all he has to do is pull a cord and the shower comes on. But this has not solved the problem. It is still a terrible battle to get him to shower. We have argued, I have threatened, pleaded, cried. He promises he will have one, even promises that he has, but I know he hasn't. I have been to his house and refused to leave until he has a shower, but it is all so traumatic. It is of course worse because I don't live with him and have a full time job.

I don't think he is scared of the shower, I do think he now knows how it works. I just think he really can't be bothered. He is so good about everything else but this is really causing problems between us. He smells and I find this embarassing. He is also getting skin infections, which is a worry.

Has anyone else had this problem - I am told it is quite common. How can I overcome this one. At my wits end. WOULD BE GRATEFUL FOR ANY HELP OR SUGGESTIONS
 

Sheila

Registered User
Oct 23, 2003
2,259
West Sussex
Hi Colette, I do feel for you. You say your Dad has been diagnosed with Dementia. Has he got a social worker, a specialist or was it your GP who made the diagnoses? What you describe is something that many of us will have experienced. Sadly one that is all too common with this illness. For what it's worth, I would suggest that you get back to whoever it was that made the diagnoses, tell them of the problem and tell them you need help. Thats what I did. Mum's SW suggested getting someone in to bath/shower Mum, at first she kicked up merry hell, after a couple of times she got to not exactly like it but tolerate would be more the word. I had someone in to do this each Saturday, this gradually needed more and so it went on. The important thing is to not suffer in silence, get it sorted now before it does your head in. If your Dad creates, then it is up to them not you, take a step back, let the professionals take the strain, you can't do it, you are too far away so it's down to them to do what needs to be done. OK if he has savings, then he will have to pay, but there it is, can't be altered, (at least the way the law stands at present) He needs help, the problem won't go away and it will get worse the longer you leave it. Please get the powers that be onto it, their hands are tied unless you ask for the help he needs, he won't do it himself, 'cause as far as he's concerned he doesn't need it, but of course thats not really the case is it. I wish you luck, it's a nightmare getting care at home started, but once in place, you can up it a bit without him really noticing, least thats what I found. Thinking of you, love She. XX
 
C

Chesca

Guest
Dear Colette

The Battleground of the Bathroom. Oh, God, yes I've had some of that. The first thing to do is stop trying to reason with the unreasonable. You're Dad now doesn't have the same perceptions as you and I do believe that the shower may well frighten him. You may believe he knows how to operate the shower but are you sure, even if he remembers it's there in the first place, which I doubt. It's hard to teach the old new tricks.......................and impossible when that person has AD. AD sufferers find change almost impossible to deal with. He needs some help with this, and preferably male, and all clothes whizzed from him and shoved into the washing machine, out of sight, immediately he removes them. Does he have a special shower seat for safety?

I used to have to cajole my mother into the bath by persuading her over ages that I didn't want her to get an infection, just as she didn't want me to be ill when I was small, and that afterwards she would feel lovely. We made an occasion of it! Other times,I would run the bath, then persuade her that we didn't want to 'waste' the hot water - she didn't like waste. Sort of made it her decision.

She used to remove dirty clothes from the linen basket until I learned to ensure that what came off 'disappeared' into the wash immediately, with clean clothes all ready. However, as her daughter I could help her. I am not sure she would have welcomed my partner doing the same for her! It was a lot of hard work but I had the advantage of seeing her every day and most nights so could 'come back' to it if she refused.

You don't have that opportunity so, as Sheila says, you need some help in there and fast. Try to get in touch with the GP by phone if you can't make a visit immediately. You can't struggle with this on your own and he can't manage on his own. In the meantime, stop fighting Dad, I promise you will never win. He's not being deliberately awkward, it's the AD.

Best wishes
Chesca
 

Nutty Nan

Registered User
Nov 2, 2003
790
Buckinghamshire
taking things for granted

Having a shower / bath, a shave, making a cup of tea - it all sounds so simple, and we take it for granted that these daily tasks are no problem at all.
However, when you break them down into single little actions, then jumble them all up, you realise how someone can suddenly be faced with an insurmountable problem: taps, soap, towels, shampoo, clothes ....??? It might be easier not to try at all! And as for help: I doubt whether any of us would welcome any of that.
Then again, not every day is the same, and just once in a while, you catch him/her at the right moment, and manage a successful operation: we did it yesterday, against all the odds. My husband agreed, I tried to keep out of the way (felt like a magician, making 'old' clothes disappear, replacing them with clean ones, finding a new bottle of shampoo, ever so special and just the right colour ...), and hugged a clean, beaming and happy hubby at the end of it, telling him over and over again how wonderful he looked.
A little later came the surprise, when he told me how "lovely and kind that lady was who helped him earlier, and that he was sure she wasn't the slightest bit interested in seeing his 'bits' ". I am convinced he is scared of the task, worried about failing, and on top of it, his modesty kicks in, which is hardly surprising.

It's not much different with shaving, often too much for him to face, but when I offer to help he feels undermined and says "YOU are a woman, how on earth would YOU know anything about shaving?"

Barbers (who shave) are a bit thin on the ground these days, and charge anything from £14 - £35 a go!

Good luck with trying different approaches, I'd be interested in everyone else's little 'tricks'!
Carmen
 

Norman

Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
4,348
Birmingham Hades
Colette
the advice that Chesca has given you is spot on.
I do not agree that Dad is afraid of the shower,learning to use it is the problem.
One of the most difficult thing is trying to teach an AD sufferer anything new.
He needs instruction over a period by a male,he won't become expert straight away but he will learn in time.
Hope this helps
Best wishes
Norman
 

Brucie

Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
12,413
near London
Off topic slightly but methinks there is scope for the Society to produce a leaflet along the lines of "The World becomes scary to someone with Alzheimer's - how everyday things can become a nightmare". It might take the story of a day in the life, or even a task or two, and present them from the viewpoint of someone with dementia.

Too often when first involved, we look at the effects of dementia as demonstrated by the patient. How these are frustrating, annoying, embarrassing, etc. It takes time to turn the picture around to understand why, and it would be good to do that as soon as possible.

Chesca, Carmen and Norman [and others] have made valid points that could be incorporated.
 

Angie

Registered User
Sep 10, 2004
6
Merseyside
Showering

I am having an ocupational therapist round to see if she can suggest any aids for our walk in shower as my husband appears afraid to stand in it and I think grab rails might help or a stool. He is also frightened of sitting on the loo.
 
C

Chesca

Guest
Hello Angie

One of the learning curves with the bath business, whatever. When having got my Mum into the bath, and stood up on a particular occasion she went into panic mode, and I mean panic mode, terrified! Unable to verbalise, she kept pointing down into some abyss that we couldn't see and after trying a variety of mats, towels - a huge white towel she eventually accepted as her landing stage. She had to have sight of it, whether it was us doing it, I don't know. It makes some sense to me, because people talk about placing a very dark mat before an exit as a safety measure - AD sufferers think they may fall into something ..........I wouldn't confirm it, neither would I 'diss' it as the younger members of my family would say.

Give your hubby something safe under his feet to make sure he doesn't feel he will fall and make sure you have a shower seat and perhaps something light coloured to walk on to in the way of a bath mat.

Keep in touch and don't forget you are important too, be gentle with yourself.

Many kind wishes
Chesca
 

Anne54

Registered User
Sep 16, 2004
147
Nottingham
Dear Angie

Do you have a black toilet seat? We had a talk about this at my carers group, and apparently black seats look like big holes, terrifying!

Anne
 

Angie

Registered User
Sep 10, 2004
6
Merseyside
showering etc

Yes .We do have a black loo seat but the downstairs loo has a white one and it doesn't seem to make much difference. Actually I think it maybe the action of sitting down backwards that is the problem as he fell getting into his chair the other week. Thank you for the tips about bath mats etc.
 

Sheila

Registered User
Oct 23, 2003
2,259
West Sussex
Hi, may not be any help, but when my son came out of hospital after losing his leg at the hip, they gave him a blow up padded seat for the loo, it was pink and soft. I never used it with Mum, but, ..... could it help here?? Love She. XX