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EssoxHunter posted:

We need help getting my mother-in-law to bathe.

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Hi, I'm looking for suggestions that would help with getting my mother-in-law to take a bath. At this time she refuses to bathe, and it is beginning to be a problem. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
  • Is there a better way to help with alzhiemer disease?
  • We need advice, to help my mother-in-law taking a bath.
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cjh1203 responded:
Hello EssoxHunter,

Here's an article from the Alzheimer's Association that you might find helpful.

There's one other thing that a poster here wrote about several years ago, and it has always stayed with me.

Often, people with Alzheimer's will see their reflections in a mirror and not recognize that the person looking back is them. They often think they're younger than they really are, so the older person looking back at them just seems like a total stranger. If they can see their reflections in a bathroom mirror, they feel as though a stranger is watching them remove their clothes, bathe, etc., and it's very upsetting to them, as it would be to any of us, to be naked and on exhibit to someone they don't know. It might be that if you cover the mirrors during bath time, it could make a difference.

I know this is very frustrating, and I hope you're able to find a solution that will make bath time less stressful for everyone.

Best wishes,
homesweethomecare responded:
I am a caregiver and have been working with a couple who both have dementia. The wife is not crazy about showers but is still doing so, however the husband is the hardest person I ever had to even get him to change his soiled clothes is a challenge. I have found that giving him a sponge bath, making sure he is always covered, and in his most comfortable location, that for him is the den. I put a towel on the sofa, and hold one up for him to change. Lately I have been having him hold it while I undress him. It is still very difficult, as he hates doing it, but staying persistent and consistent with him is working. Get everything you need together before trying to do this, they are very impatient. Also let her know each step you are taking, don't do any moves without informing her. Insist that you can not let her go any longer without being clean because it is so important for her health and for her skin. Be completely honest with her. If she is odorous, tell her in a kind way. Let her know that she can trust you, stay close and keep eye contact, don't give up, it will not be easy but it is not impossible. Good luck!
Judith L London, PhD responded:
Hi EssoxHunter,

If bathing is still an issue, let us know. It's hard for people to undress in front of others- bathing is such a private issue for all of us.There are many techniques that work well:
  • Drape a warm, large bath towel around her, and sponge bathe one part at a time while having soft music in the background in a warm room.
  • Tell her which part comes next - arm, etc.
  • Give her a washcloth to use along with you.
  • Speak softly and talk to her about a topic she loves to discuss.
  • Create a warm, cozy environment and call it a spa.
Other suggestions may be found at

Hope this helps,
4bettymay responded:
My wife started not to want to take a shower early this summer . I told her that I would put a heater in the room to warm it up for her sense she is cold most of the time and now she likes to take a shower I hope this works for you
janetruth62 responded:
I used to tell my Aunt that the Doctor wanted a special cream applied to her skin(simply a moisturizer) and her skin needed to be washed first.
cjh1203 replied to janetruth62's response:
What a good idea!

frogette responded:
I've been bathing my mom for a year now and she's still difficult at times but I find that if I can get her in a good mood, laughing even then say guess what we're going to do? We're going to take a nice warm bath and then mention a activity they may enjoy afterwards. Mom loves to play bingo so we bought a game and that's what we do after her bath. And when you mention the bath, just start doing everything like they've already agreed continuing to keep them in a good mood by talking about things they enjoy. Say things like, oh going to feel so good and smell so nice. Hey, I might just jump in there with you. Get them to laugh. Hope I've helped you.
cjh1203 replied to frogette's response:
Excellent post, frogette!


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