Showers and Fresh Clothes
My husband has dementia after brain damage in 2011. He is generally easy to deal with, but I really struggle with getting him to take a shower. He has a seat and hand/held shower. I’ve asked if he wants help. No.
How can I motivate him to shower? I don’t believe he would ever do it, otherwise. If his hair needs to be cut, I insist he shower, first. If he has a doctor’s appointment, he usually can be convinced to shower. At Christmas, when we were going to my daughter’s house, he showered. On a regular basis, I am lucky to get him to shower, once a week.
I mentioned clothing, too. He does choose fresh underwear, but otherwise wears the same thing every day, even if he has gotten food on himself. Any help would be appreciated. He is mobile enough to do these things. I don’t know what to do!
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Hello, @shirleymac I know each person and their disease and cognition are unique, however, I struggled with some of the same issues with my wife and will share what worked for us in the hopes it might help a bit.
My wife always wanted to wear the same clothes and same nightgown every day and night. I finally was able to get her to agree to two nightgowns. Then for years I did a load of clothes every night. I'd wash her clothes and one nightgown so they were clean for the next day, which was always the same outfit, and a clean nightgown for the next night.
With both my wife and my mother-in-law, they came to have a significant dislike for the feeling of water on their bodies. They did not like showers, baths, etc. My solution to this was to begin putting together a wash basin, soap, and washcloths so she could clean up that way. She was more accepting of this. For her hair, I would wash it for her in the sink every couple of days.
For many of the issues my wife struggled with I had to invent or come up with some alternative to what was pre-illness "normal" since the old ways just no longer were something that would work for her.
I hope this is of some help.
Strength, Courage, & Peace
@shirleymac For some patients with dementia, they get esconced in routine. My mother was like that. She also had Alzheimers disease, but clung to routine. My father took care of her single-handed for 10 years. She was mute, but would respond when the visiting nurse brought her German Shepherd dog.
May I suggest that you get multiples of the same outfit? Same color, same pants/shirt/sweater/etc. It is routine and familiar. Hopefully it is a color combination you will grow fond of!
As for shower issues, have you tried the shower wipes that are available? There are several choices on the market now. Some need no rinsing. There are scent-free, alcohol-free. They are offered in a larger size than the traditional "wet wipes" products we grew up with, and may be just the ticket to help your husband feel fresher. The sensation of water on the skin can sometimes be scary, feeling like you're bleeding, rather than water draining off. I am reluctant to advise "Google" , but in this case, you can get a lot of information without traipsing around. Try "best shower wipes for elderly".
Hope this is of some help to you,
Thank you! I did buy some shower wipes and a cap for cleaning his hair, but haven’t tried them, yet. It had never occurred to me that it might be the water hitting the skin.
As to clothes, multiples of what he likes to wear might work! I will keep trying…after 11+ years of caregiving. Sometimes I just feel like there are no answers and it wears me down.
Hi @shirleymac, my husband has moderate Alzheimer's Disease, and he broke his hip about a year ago. While he was in the Rehab Facility, I had the tub removed and a shower installed with grab bars and a shower seat. Before all this he would reluctantly shower once a week, if that, and he was loathe to wash his hair. I bought one of those shampoos they use in hospitals that doesn't need much water. It worked well for a while.
When he came home, I found it easier to shower with him vs give him instructions from outside the shower. Now he enjoys it as a team effort and has no problems washing his hair. We shower every other day. We also have a cleansing toilet seat (like a bidet) which he's adapted to using.
I do have multiples of the same style pants and shirts and just throw the dirty ones in the wash and put the clean ones out for him. Can you replace your husband's dirty clothes with clean ones where they are stored so he will just grab them?
I remember my mother-in-law was in her 90s when she told me how much she hated showering. She said it felt like sandpaper against her skin.
I wish you the best. None of this is easy.
My dad was totally resistant to my mom’s help with showering/changing clothes. She finally went with a local home care agency that provided an aide once weekly. The agency required a 3 hour block, my mom would take a walk, go to the grocery store, go out on the porch and read. The aide would do anything related to hi care (shower,laundry, make a snack or meal). My dad was much more accepting of the aide’s help. You could compare prices with the franchises (Home Instead, etc) and the Home Care agencies. Having a 3 hour break weekly might really help your sense of well-being.
My mom has the same aversion to showering, brushing teeth, changing clothes.
I did buy the same Clothing for her so she had the same clothes every day but they were clean to compensate for the lack of showers.
I also use the adult wash clothes..but heat them in the microwave for 15 seconds. Takes the edge off the cold.
It is exhausting…I have four hour breaks three days a week when a caregiver comes. Mom won’t let the caregiver shower her but she does engage in conversation. It is a great relief to have the respite care. It refreshes me and helps me find the courage to face another another day.
I hope this helps a bit
I think I need to look into options for help – respite care, home health, etc. I have not done so before, primarily because we live on a fixed income, but I know I need help for him and an occasional break for me. At least I have some recommendations, which is a start. Thank you for your advice.
Hi @shirleymac One of the places I was able to find some limited assistance for us was through our local hospice organization. After talking with them they were able to give my name to a couple of their aides who were looking for a few extra hours of work.
Just an idea that happened to work for us.
Strength, Courage, & Peace
Give your county Area Agency on Aging a call, you might be eligible for the "Waiver" program. They put in Home aide services to keep people out of nursing homes longer. If your husband is a combat veteran, they can help with info on the VA program that also provides home aides.
Someone gave me a baby wipes warmer so those wipes are always warm and ready.
Also, one of the most freeing things I read was, “Nobody dies from not taking a shower “. So I bathe what he will let me, when he will let me. His doctor prescribed a very low dose of Ativan which helps. He is still resistant to changing or bathing but doesn’t get so angry.