When helping to care for an elderly loved one you want to maintain the person’s dignity, privacy, and independence while promoting safe and sanitary habits. Many elderly people are reluctant to bathe or shower for a variety of reasons and caretakers should approach this situation carefully. How do you encourage your loved one to bathe or shower more regularly without sounding disrespectful? What is the best method to encourage showering or bathing? What equipment may we need to make showering and bathing safe? Every elderly individual is different and there are a variety of reasons many struggle with regular showering and bathing.

We suggest that caretakers:

Provide as much privacy as is safely possible. Many elderly people are reluctant to shower because of a lack of privacy.

Keep supplies stocked. An elderly loved one may be hesitant to shower or bathe if supplies are running low or are out. Make sure there are plenty of towels, washcloths, soap, and shampoo on hand at all times.

If possible, have your loved one shower in a tub bath. This is safer than a shower stall and is more easily modified to fit an individual’s needs.

Protect against falls. Place no-slip grippers in the bottom of the tub, keep the bathroom floor dry, and provide plenty of rubber-bottomed floor mats to walk on.

Invest in additional equipment. Installing a shower seat, a hand held shower head, or balance rails may make your loved one feel more comfortable and secure in the shower.

Create a routine. Form a collaborative plan with your loved one to make a bathing or showering routine. Plan for this time within a daily schedule and set the expectation that bathing or showering happens on a regular basis.

Take a professional’s advice. Seek counsel from an occupational therapist or a home care professional. This expert can suggest additional equipment you may need and can help you create a safe and comfortable space for your loved one to bathe.

Listen to your loved one. Take the time to have a conversation about bathing and showering and listen to your loved one. You may discover that the lack of showering and bathing is for reasons you never considered. Figuring out the true reason behind it can help get solutions in place much quicker.

Helping to care for an elderly loved one can be difficult at times. You want to foster independence without sacrificing safety. Understanding the individual needs of your loved one and creating a trusting relationship that allows for dignity and respect are imperative to ongoing health and happiness