Many of us will take giving a bath and changing clothes as a common everyday occurrence, but to the senior parent this can be as dreaded as getting a root canal.
Four of the top reasons why mom may not be open to being as tidy as she used to be are: depression, control, decreased senses and memory.
The culprit behind many seniors refusal to bathe is depression. If you see your loved one losing interest in activities they used to enjoy or showing signs of unusual low energy, then this could be a sign that you need to help them setup a medical checkup.
As our parents age they tend to become more dependent on their adult children even though they don’t want to. Their growing dependence usually comes with a bit of resistance to your control. A minor thing like taking a shower can become one of the few things that they can control so they can quickly become petulant about the topic.
Loss of Senses
With old age comes the loss of our once perfect sense of sight, smell, taste and hearing. We just aren’t as apt as we used to be in picking up that mustard stain on a yellow shirt or week-old body odor.
Losing track of time and activities are common among the elderly. When life slows down after retirement and there’s not meetings to get to, kids to pick up and dinner to cook–we tend to use our brain muscle a little less.
Furthermore, taking a daily bath is a modern phenomenon more than a historic activity. This can lead to a lot of missed baths when you combine poor memory with an elderly person living in the reality of their teen or early twenties when weekly showers were common place.
Fear can also be an outlying issue for a senior living with the onset of dementia. They may fear that the water will drown them or that they may be sucked down the drain along with the debris on their bodies.
To help your senior loved one through this process consider the following items:
– Depression is the enemy of a number of elderly persons. Get them in for a checkup. If you find they are suffering from depression help them get on a regular routine of taking their medications. If you have the time to reintroduce or help them engage in activities of daily living, then give them that extra nudge they may need.
– Endless nagging won’t make things easier. Find items they are passionate about and use those to encourage at least a weekly bath. Most seniors aren’t active enough to require a daily bath, so don’t insist on that. Also keep in mind that you want progress not perfection from them.
– It may be hard for you and them to come to grips with getting older, so don’t get to bent out of shape with their poor senses. What smells like bath time to you may not even register with them. Therefore, you may be creative and offer up spa time or a special dinner that requires a bath.
– If you are trying to be the caregiver for someone suffering with dementia, showering can be a daunting task that may have to take on the form of sponge bathing or prepping for the shower with mood relaxing items like lavender, light music and other items that tend to be pleasurable for them.