A common area many caregivers struggle with is getting their aging parent to bathe regularly. It can be a source of frustration for you, their senior care aides and the parent. If you find yourself having a battle each time you try to get your parent to bathe, look at some of these techniques to help the process go a bit smoother.
Relax Your Hygiene Standards
The best place to start is with yourself. As a caregiver, you might have raised children that you knew needed to bathe everyday because of all of activities they took part in during the day. Many seniors don’t need a daily bath or shower and overbathing can actually be harmful to your parent’s skin. Assess what is really needed to keep your parent clean and fresh and be willing to work within those new parameters.
Offer a Reward
If your parent struggles to bathe regularly, reminding her that she needs to bathe before going to church on Sundays or has company over, might be good way to give her the incentive needed to take a bath or shower. While there may not be a lot of gathering together with others right now, you can even use outdoor rewards to encourage your parent to bathe. If she loves going out to the park to bird watch, firmly tell her you’ll take her once she takes her shower that day.
Get Senior Care Aides to Help
Your parent may feel self-conscious having you help her bathe. She might feel more comfortable having a paid professional help her get in and out of the tub or wash her hair for her. A senior care provider can be a great resource for this task and may help relieve any stress your parent is feeling around bathing in front of a family member. Parents who stubbornly refuse a family caregiver’s requests may comply to someone they see as a professional quite easily.
Provide Some Pampering
Maybe your parent hates to take a bath or shower but really enjoys having her hair styled or her nails painted. If you can make it clear that you’d be happy to pamper her (or your senior care provider can do it) after she washes up, she might be more willing to take care of herself in this way before you give her some personal pampering care. Let her know you enjoy these special pampering moments as much as she does so you really need her to bathe up so you can spend this time together.
Give Clear Instructions to Your Senior and Senior Care Aide
If your parent is at a point where following through on processes is difficult, she might need you to walk her through the bathing process. It could be as simple as you (or her senior care provider) standing outside the bathroom door, speaking reminders into the bathroom as she bathes. Having you there, reminding her to shampoo her hair, rinse it out, and scrub under her armpits might make the task seem less overwhelming to her.
Provide Proper Equipment
Finally, make sure your parent has all she needs to bathe safely. Does her bathroom need some assistance devices, or a non-slip floor put in her shower? Having an area she feels safe using may make all the difference.