Make Showering Easier and Safer for Your Aging Parent

In-Home Senior Care, Melville, NY

Taking a shower is something that most of us do not have to give much thought to.  It’s an everyday activity that we do to keep up our hygiene and self-care.  As we get older, showering can become a much more complicated task.  The risk of a bad fall, the accessibility of bathing supplies, getting in and out of the shower stall or tub, and contending with poor vision, hearing loss, and frailty can make the idea of taking a shower overwhelming.

The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the home for older adults and falls often occur when seniors are getting in and out of the tub or up and down from the toilet.  A few simple changes can make showering much easier and safer for your aging parent.

  1. Clear the pathway to the bathroom to make getting in and out safe and easy, especially in the dark. Add extra night lights around the hallway and bathroom.
  2. Use only non-skid, rubberized mats on the floor and on the surface of the tub.
  3. Drum roll… GRAB BARS!  While grab bars are frequently recommended for older adults, their significance and effectiveness cannot be understated.  Grab bars should be placed around the tub and near the toilet.
  4. Use a shower chair or bench. Shower chairs come with arms and without arms.  Many people find that the shower chairs without arms are easier for maneuvering in and out of the shower.
  5. Use a handheld showerhead. This allows your elderly parent to wash/rinse easier and it’s helpful if someone else, a family member or a hired caregiver, will be assisting with the shower.
  6. Consider a walk-in tub or tub cut out. Tub cut outs create a cut in the side of the tub to allow for a smaller step into and out of the tub.  They cost an average of $1500 and can be a quick and affordable solution.  It also can typically be completed in one day.
  7. Hire a caregiver to help. Caregivers can help a person get in and out of the shower, get dressed, and clean up the bathroom after a shower.

If you have a loved one with dementia who refuses to shower it can be challenging to persuade them to do so.  From feeling too cold to undress to feeling uncomfortable with the water, there are many reasons why someone with dementia would not want to shower.  There are a few tips and tricks that could help with getting your loved one to take a shower.

  1. Try using music. By setting the tone with music, your loved one may stay distracted and go along with the shower.
  2. Get the water and bathroom prepped. Run the warm water so that the bathroom gets warm and steamy, get the towels ready, use a thick, warm bathrobe for your loved one to wear before and after the shower, and have all the bathing supplies ready and easily accessible.
  3. Try doing the shower in three parts. For the first part, just shower your loved one’s hair.  For the second part, wash just the upper body, and for the last part, just do the lower body and feet.   This could make the process much easier to bear for your loved one.