The persistent unwillingness of a senior to take a shower is a cause of aggravation for a large number of caretakers. Caregivers who have years of experience in the role provide the most helpful advice and recommendations they have for encouraging an elderly family member or friend to take a shower or bath.

How to Motivate an Older Citizen to Take a Bath with These 6 Suggestions

Promote becoming clean in preparation for an event or activity.

“For a while, the only way we could get Dad to take a shower was if he was getting ready for Sunday service. Since my father never bathed in the morning, two or three times a week we would simply tell him that church was on the following day to avoid him having to get ready. It would be effective the majority of the time. Try to position yourself in such a manner that you may take advantage of the fact that the person you care about constantly or nearly always showers before engaging in a certain activity. –Groundhog

“One suggestion that we put into action, which ended up being successful, was to talk about going out to lunch or supper. The notion would be quite appealing to Dad, but in order for him to participate with us, he would need to clean up and groom himself first. Hence, we would make it a point to take him out to eat at a local diner, IHOP, or another restaurant around once each week on the house. It is not necessary for it to be particularly costly, and the shift in the environment was enjoyable for all of us. –molly dolly 332

Do the dishes together.

“If you want to show your partner that you care, consider taking a shower with them. Encourage them to come in and offer to assist them to shower if they need it. Use bathing materials and other things that they like, such as their preferred brands or smells. –NavLady

Even though my husband doesn’t like to take a bath, he enjoys having his face washed and shaved by me. If I can only convince him to take a shower once a week, I’ll consider it a success. He claims that he is not doing anything that would cause him to get unclean. I use the fact that he hasn’t showered in over a week as a hook to get his attention. I have him get in the shower first thing in the morning so that he can’t get dressed until he’s done. In addition to that, I propose that we share a shower, which he thinks is a good idea. He is able to wash, while I am responsible for shampooing his hair and washing his back. Since we are both now inside the shower, I am able to keep a close eye on him to ensure that he does not trip or accidentally scald himself. Afterwards, he is always content and, considering how taxing it is for him, he typically relaxes. –Isabella1

Provide clear directions that are broken down into steps.

“I point my mother in the direction of the restroom and then I stand in the opening to prevent her from “escaping.” I ask her to remove her nightgown and pass it to me, and then I tell her to remove her “night pants” and throw them away. Finally, I tell her to remove her nightgown and put it in the garbage. I invite her to use the disabled walk-in shower that is there. There are times when she will walk right in, but there are other occasions when she will not. 

I stand at the threshold of the doorway and remind her that we have to clean ourselves up before we can have breakfast, go outdoors, meet our friends, or do anything else that could pique her interest. In the past, I have waited at the entrance for as long as twenty-five minutes! Since the language centre in her brain is not functioning as it should, she has difficulties grasping what is going on around her. Patience is essential in this situation. We have it done right away in the morning since she is more amenable to our persuasion at that time. –sonshineacres

Employ someone to help your elderly loved ones with bathing.

“Obtaining in-home care was the answer for us,” you said. Within an hour of their first meeting, the bath aide had Mom completely cleaned up (including her dentures, which I was unable to get her to clean) and dressed in new attire. This was the very first time that a bathing assistant had been there. It may not go as fast or as easily for certain people, but in most cases, a professional caregiver who has received the appropriate training will be effective where family members are not. –Deja Vu again

“Give the doctor a call and have them write you up an order for a bath aide to visit your home on many occasions each week. This is what I did when my father decided to cease taking baths. –Eyerishlass

Make use of a therapeutic white lie.

“When it came to bathing, all I did was inform my mother that I required her to take a bath whenever I was there so that I could make sure she was tidy. Even if she insisted to me that she had already bathed, I would tell her that in order for me to continue receiving financial assistance from the government that we were, I needed to be sure that she was bathing, and she needed to do it again so that I could be honest with them. This was the only way I could continue receiving assistance. There are occasions when the telling of white falsehoods is required. –never alone

Relax your hygiene standards.

During the whole 17 years that I knew my mother-in-law, who died away at the age of 84, she never used anything except a sponge to wash. She was not particularly stinky or unclean to an extreme degree. In spite of the fact that I believed her method was insufficient, it is really preferable for you to skip showering on a regular basis. 

My mother-in-father laws has Alzheimer’s disease, and he gets an aided complete shower twice a week. This routine appears to be managing his symptoms very well. We make sure to give him moist wipes and keep him from running marathons so that he doesn’t break out in rashes and smell bad. 

My opinion is that you should always act in a manner that is appropriate given the context. Let go of your preconceived conceptions of cleanliness and your unreasonable expectations, and instead concentrate on providing the care that is most beneficial for the person you love. –Heidigreene

People from all around the world congregate at the Embracing HomeCare Caregiver Forum to exchange words of encouragement, sound advice, and useful information with one another. Is there another approach that you’ve tried that was successful for you? Leave a comment below to share with other caregivers the senior hygiene suggestions that have worked for your family and how they may assist others.


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