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FAQs #28

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Q28. My mother is 88 years old. I am her only child and 58 years old. She lives in an Assisted Living place. She refuses to have a bath or change clothes. They are supposed to assist her with a bath every Wednesday, but for the last 4 Wednesdays, she has refused to take a bath. Her clothes are filthy and she has an odor. They asked what I was going to do about her taking a bath. I have talked to her and she just says she is not taking one. She can get very verbal about her refusal of a bath. I don't know what to do. If you could just tell me who to turn to for advice, I would greatly appreciate it. She is in a wheelchair because she refuses to walk with her walker. She sits and watches TV all day. Assisted Living has a cafeteria and someone pushes her to her 3 meals and takes her back to the room.

A28. Yvonne Myers, ElderCare Network:
Bathing is always such a tough issue. What was your mother's normal bathing routine? Bath, Shower? What time of day? How often? Maybe she likes baths before bed versus in the morning. It is important to understand her life time patterns.

Then:  Who is bathing her at the facility? A man? A woman? 2 women? Is the bath warm and pleasing? Maybe some fancy soaps and bubble bath and a "spa" approach would work for her. Did she bathe before going to church? Maybe a Sunday or Saturday night bath is better.

I am just giving examples of how to look at all of the factors surrounding the bath to figure out why it is not working. The facility should work with you to brainstorm different options/techniques for bathing your mom. Ultimately, getting the resident to bathe is the responsibility of the facility.

Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Yvonne Myers
ElderCare Network


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