Encouraging Alz Grandma To Shower- Need Help Today!

taupe79July 22, 2005

Okay, so this has a lot of background that I can't get into, but I don't see my grandma as often as I'd like. She lives 2 hours away, but my husband and I are going down this weekend.

She has a caregiver and home hospital help, but she is very stubborn with her Alz, and she gets some weird ideas sometimes. Anyhow, she is not bathing as regularly as she should be. Her caregiver, my uncle, has tried to encourage her (forcing is not an option) as have the home health nurses who see her. She is very stubborn and will not do it very often. Perhaps she is afraid of falling? (There are safety rails, but still.) It's a walk-in shower (no tub to step over), and has rails, so it's really very safe.

Anyhow, being her only granddaughter and someone who is not there as often, I thought perhaps I could persuade her to shower. I could sit in the bathroom and chat while she showers, help her on with her robe, etc. My husband would be in the next room in case things got slippery or she needed more help than I could give to walk to her bedroom.

Any ideas as to how to bring up the shower idea? She does get her hair done a couple times a month, so offering to wash her hair isn't really a lucrative deal. She has a tub, too, but I really don't think she'd get in that (too slippery). Does anyone else have this problem with the people they care for?

I know, since I'm not there as often, that maybe I shouldn't even try because there's a possibility it could upset her. At the same time, though, if I could get through to her and get her bathed, things would be a lot better for everyone.

I appreciate any advice.

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Does she do any other bathing such as wiping off her face, armpits, bottom, etc? When you really get down to it, unless she smells so no one can stand her, or has sores from not washing, it's not a big deal. People used to not wash but once or twice a year. It's certainly not worth getting her upset about it. I suspect that soon she might slip into that stage where anyone could wash her and she wouldn't even notice. Offer her some lovely smelling bath powder for "After You Take Your Bath." See if that works.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 1:28PM
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I guess that's true, but I think she's having more incontinence issues all the time, and it's important to get that washed off. There's no real way to know whether she's washing that area or not. Still, it's not worth the upset, you're right. The powder is a good idea, even if she doesn't bathe before using it. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 1:53PM
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We had those issues with my Mom at the beginning of her alz. We would try to get her into the shower...it was just horrible ordeal...alot of times they become afraid of water...we did get a seat for the shower...that only worked for awhile. I remember just sitting Mom down when I knew that it was a good time and she could understand...just told her that this was the way it had to be...I would give her a sponge bath...then when the girl came in each morning while I went to work that this had to be done....Mom would get modest but I would just talk her thur....it did take awhile but she soon got to the point of it being o.k. for the sponge bath. I lost my dear Mom just 3 weeks ago....we did the sponge bath for 7 years....as I said the girl that came during the day to help was wonderful...Mom got a bath each morning with dove soap...she always used dove....hair washed 2times a week...I got one of those blow up things that you can wash hair with them laying down in bed....lotion all over...Mom always used oil of olay....and then powder mixed with corn starch.....we never had and problems with her skin and when ever we took her to the doctor he would comment on how beautiful her skin was....also we used pull-ups and Mom was changed every 2 hours....I also bathed Mom's bottom and powder each night before bed. I know that this is such an problem....we were blessed that it did not take long for Mom to conform to this way of doing things....she had always been a person that bathed each night. And things for me were easy because Mom and Dad lived in an apartment in our home and it was easy for me to be there and be involved with her care. Just a suggestion....call your alz. association and they have a book...the 36 hour day....it is wonderful and has so much info on the stages of alz. and many suggestion on how to care for the person with alz. God Bless and I hope you come back to this site...so many have wonderful help to offer. Nora

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 6:26PM
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She may not like showers. My mother rarely took a shower, she always took a bath as long as I knew her. As she descended into dementia, bathing got to be a real problem because she refused to shower, with or without help. They had a bathtub on the floor of her nursing home, and she'd bathe in that without trouble, so she got a bath every few days and everyone was satisfied.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 6:28PM
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Hello Taupe
When I was caring for my mother-in-law (she was urine incontinent and later bowel also) I always fixed her a plastic bottle of water and no rinse soap and she could rinse herself as she sat on the toilet.
We got the bottle once when she was in the hospital, later I got another in the candy/frosting making supply area.
Doing it while she is on the toilet makes it harded for her to refuse. It is very hard when the won't do something, all you can do is keep trying and sometimes getting a little firmer.
I remember the first time I said to my MIL--Frances, I know that you have always prided yourself on looking good and smelling good and I know that you would want me to tell you that I can smell urine (that was very hard for me to do, but it was just the start of me becoming the parent,caregiver)
Good Luck

    Bookmark   July 23, 2005 at 1:05PM
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Hi, everyone. I'm new to this forum, but I have experience with my mother and Alzheimer's. To get her to take a shower at her assisted living facility, I'd try to show that I was "on her side." I'd say, "Mom, I know it bothers you to take a shower in front of people. But I'm your daughter, so let's do it before the others ask if you would like a shower." She was very appreciative that I took the time to do it. She felt she was putting something over on the staff, as I promised to tell them she'd already showered.

Granted, my mother was in the earlier stages, so reasoning with her worked.

I know we're too late for this week, but maybe you could try this another time?

Good luck with your grandmother.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2005 at 8:57PM
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Another vote for the book...."The thirty six hour day". It had some of the best ideas for things like showering etc....even words to say etc. It was very helpful.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 1:21AM
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