Bathing Your Mom: A Step-by-Step Guide
Bathing your mom: getting past the awkwardness
Let's face it, giving your mom a bath isn't an easy thing for you or for her. Bathing is one of the most intimate kinds of personal care, second maybe only to changing an incontinent parent’s diaper. You're likely to feel awkward, embarrassed, and self-conscious. Your mom feels all of these emotions, too, as well as helpless and vulnerable. Expect these feelings to be heightened if you're a son.
If you can afford to hire someone to provide this level of care, that's a big help. But for many families this expense is way outside the family budget, especially if she needs help for months or years. So it falls to you.
Fortunately, there's a positive side to the job. Most people feel better when they're clean, revived, and refreshed. It's uplifting. To give this sensation to another person, especially to your parent, is rewarding. And it really does get easier with time as you learn routines that work for you.
"This is a trial and error kind of thing," says Jennifer Serafin, a geriatric nurse practitioner (GNP) for the Jewish Home for the Aged in San Francisco. "The first couple of times it might be awful. You may get more water over you than your parent. You're not a failure. Give yourself a break."
Your mom doesn't need a full head-to-toe body scrub daily, and in fact it can damage older skin, which tends to be dry and sensitive. Two or three times a week should be enough. But daily cleaning of the private areas and under skin folds is recommended. Briefer daily cleaning can be done with wipes or a warm washcloth. For efficiency, use bath time to shampoo your mom's hair, clean her teeth, and check her nails -- a sort of one-stop shop of grooming.