An elderly parent who refuses to shower and take care of basic hygiene need sis a frequent concern for many families. It can be a very delicate and embarrassing issue to address with a parent or loved one.
Why won't my parent bath or change clothes regularly?
First, you must rule out depression as the culprit. One of the first signs of depression in a senior is lack of attention to personal care/tidiness and low energy level. It's wise to consult with your loved one's physician if depression is suspected. Treatment for depression could get your senior "back on track".
Perhaps your loved one's memory is diminished and he simply believes that they are keeping up with hygiene tasks. It's easy to lose track of time when the calendar of events is relatively empty; days go by and they may not realize just how long it's been since they last showered.
Additionally, the senses of sight and smell decrease with age. Body odors and dirty clothing are not as noticeable and offensive as they once were. That can be tough on loved ones sharing their company!
Another hindrance could be fear or discomfort. Perhaps your loved one has slipped in the bathroom and fallen. The fear of another fall and injury can be overwhelming for a senior. An extreme case is the elderly person living with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. They may be extremely confused by the bathing or dressing process. Water running over the face may be quite terrifying. They may not understand what is happening and may become combative or non-compliant.
Hygiene tips for the "non-bathing" senior:
1) Use a Shampoo Cap. These were first introduced in hospitals but are available for the general public as well. Simply place the cap on the head, massage, remove and dry...no water necessary. Check www.Amazon.com for some great values on Shampoo Caps.
2) Try Bath Cloths. These are disposable, microwaveable cloths that contain a cleanser, aloe and vitamin E to clean and condition skin. Seniors have particularly delicate skin that is prone to break down and infection. Keeping the skin clean and moisturized is a top priority. Again, no rinsing with water is necessary. Check out www.seniorsuperstores.com for cleansing cloths and other essential bath aids.
3)Keep Incontinence Cleanser On Hand. If your parent has incontinence problems you might need a specially formulated cleanser to clean and protect the skin in delicate areas. Try "Aloe Vesta" brand cleaner which is an easy to use, non-irritating spray formula.
When caring for an elderly loved one, you may need to step back and reconsider your standards. Of course, do all you can to help your elder stay clean and keep up their appearance. However, do not expect perfection. An attitude adjustment on your part may make for a happier, less stressed relationship!
Perhaps your family needs some outside assistance in caring for your loved one? Consult Atlanta's most trusted source for quality Home Care assistance, Easy Living Services, Inc. We have supported families in their efforts to keep loved ones fulfilled at home since 1994. Affordable hourly and "Live-In" services are available throughout metro Atlanta. Call to discuss your specific needs, 770-442-8664 or for more information visit us at: www.easylivingservices.com