Shower Alternatives

3 Clever Ways to Help a Loved One Stay Clean
122523221

Keeping older adults clean when they can no longer manage personal hygiene completely on their own is no fun for you -- or them. Your goal should be to preserve privacy and dignity, while also helping your loved one stay clean.

These three tools can make the job much simpler:

1. Wet wipes

Also known as baby wipes, these disposable washcloths are genius: They're always handy, quickly and easily pop up one at a time, stay moist, and clean the skin in a comfortable and nonthreatening way. A few whisks of a wet wipe and the person feels instantly better -- and is cleaner -- without the ordeals associated with a full shower or bath. As a substitute for several of the full cleanings in a week, you'll save time and hassle.

How can you encourage their use? Use them yourself, and make sure your loved one sees you. Say, "Wow, I'm feeling warm today," as you grab a wet wipe and rub it across the back of your neck or under your armpits. Mention that you use them after going to the bathroom, too. Modeling their use this way makes the cloths seem normal -- and not like a special product that's only for your loved one's use.

2. Hospital gowns

Being stripped naked and bathed by another person can make your loved one feel incredibly vulnerable. Staying partially covered up is a handy way to preserve modesty while you sponge-bathe only part of the body at a time. You can do this with towels, but they tend to slip and slide. And bathrobes make removing arms awkward.

A cotton hospital gown, on the other hand, is designed for easily popping out an arm or breast while keeping other parts covered. It's worth asking about bringing one home after a hospital stay or doctor visit (although you may be charged -- and you might find them hard to come by, since many doctor offices are switching to flimsy paper gowns). You can also find the gowns online or in hospital supply stores.

3. A TV or radio in the bathroom

What do electronics have to do with bathing? They distract! Anything that removes the focus from what's happening -- I'm dressed and you're not -- will help make bathing a loved one go more smoothly. Consider a small portable television mounted on the wall, like in fancy hotels. Or use a battery-powered laptop playing a video, if you have the counter space so it won't risk being knocked over. The easiest solution is a radio or an MP3 music device. Tune it to your loved one's favorite station, or make a special playlist you reserve just for bath time. The main concern is that no cords present a tripping hazard -- and that you keep the device safely away from water. Remove portable devices from the room after use.


7 months ago, said...

Are there public spa facilities that offer bathing/shower as a option? My mother's shower is impossible for her to use.


about 1 year ago, said...

An Honor Guard personal care garment covers during bathing, and removes embarrassment and dread of being naked in the presence of a caregiver. It made a big difference when I cared for my mom. You can find them online from Dignity Resource Council.


about 3 years ago, said...

We have big packs of Costco babywipes all over thehouse, in every bathroom, in the bedroom too. DH is finally able to shower after much practice and also willing to do it now that he can do it independently of the caregiver. But sometimes the day gets away from us and it's time to go to bed and I can see that he's too worn out for the not inconsiderable effort of a shower. I stay on top of it and if he's getting ready to skip the second day, I say no, but let's take a sponge bath together. I get out the baby wipes, and we get naked, and I clean myself --one in each hand for my face/neck/ears, one in each hand for the armpits, a couple for the "front" and a couple for the "back" of the "private parts". I do my feet, and I sometimes do his, since he has so much trouble with this. He likes this and can imitate me--the only thing that's a "problem" is he wants to do it all with ONE babywipe (he's always been a cheapskate) so I have to keep grabbing the used ones and giving him new ones as we go along. I keep up a banter about how we stink and we're gonna do this because we are civilized around here. So far it works, and it's kind of fun. Fortunately, mostly he wants to shower these days. But whoever invented baby wipes should get an award!


over 3 years ago, said...

It has come to my attention that any and all wipes should NOT be flushed even though they say flushable. Plumbers have dealt with this problem.


over 3 years ago, said...

My Father lives in Assisted Living. Both he and Mom said that they would never live in any of their childrens' homes, and they have kept their word. This allows us to have the facility caregivers take care of the intimate needs (bathing/toileting). We actually have the opposite problem of most - They both insisted on showering every day! Since this is so odd for seniors, they had to work up special pricing for us. It's well worth it. The caregivers also make sure that Dad (Mom has been gone over a year now) changes his outer clothing every day and underpants/socks daily. The only problem with the showering daily now that Mom is gone - Dad considers it a substitute for sexual intimacy. He mentions the back scrubbing and showering by the 'young ladies' to any and all that will listen. Some of the other residents (ladies) in the facility roll their eyes and say 'OH NO - not the shower stories again!' Have to have a caregiver/companion come in 3 times a week in the afternoons to do his laundry, and take him on a walk outside, if the weather is nice. He even told her the shower story. We as caregivers need to count our blessings, and laugh about some of the rest, because otherwise we will cry ourselves an ocean!


over 3 years ago, said...

All ideas are welcomed, whether I can use them immediately or later.


over 3 years ago, said...

Had never thought of the radio idea. I may suggest it to the rehab center where nurses, not familiar family, bath residents.


over 3 years ago, said...

Wondering about that. We have turned off the A/c vent to both that bathroom and his bedroom already. He is so stuborn about it, doctor has suggested that it is some dementia. Interestingly, my father who is the same age and does not live with me, is doing the same thing. I do not think that they can smell themselves as I know that taste and smell can diminish with age. It was so bad with FIL that his GF's(yes 87yo has a 90 yo gf) daughter called and complained and said he was no longer welcome at their family get togethers. I tried to explain that he refuses to no avail. This is offending way more people than me. Now we write every bath on the calander as a visual reminder. I snatch away his clothes when he takes them off, as when he did bathe then he was putting the dirty clothes right back on. I had seen that tip on here and it is a good one. On Thursady (laundry day) I strip the bed and for the last two weeks won't put the sheets back on the bed til he has a shower. This is worse than a toddler behavior. Worn out!


over 3 years ago, said...

As my parents got old, really old, and unable to move easily, they began to experience a phenomenon I call: I DON'T WANT TO BE WET. They feel better if they would bathe but they just cannot make themselves get wet! It is an aversion as much as any anxiety is an aversion. I don't know where it stems from but the only way I have found to combat it is to make the bathroom really warm so that they don't have that cold chill feeling of being "wet." maybe this will help others. Thanks!


over 3 years ago, said...

Sometimes it is difficult to think of vulnerability in another person when we are well and independent ourselves. Truth is we will never know how they are feeling, so why not take a few extra steps to help them be at ease. Thanks!


over 3 years ago, said...

So frustrated with 87 yo FIL who REFUSES to bathe for 10 days at a time. He is otherwise quite able to manage everything and it results in a yelling match to get him to do so. The odor wafts through the house and makes a dirty dirty bathroom and finger marks all over. He does not need assistance with the bath just will not do it. On another note, my other half is a pumber and those wipes result in a huge number of calls for him. Very expensive calls I might add.. Do not flush them even if the package says they are safe...or we will be showing up at your house :)


over 3 years ago, said...

Thank you for suggesting a hospital gown. Where could we buy one


over 4 years ago, said...

Help me persuade him to shower more than once every two weeks.


over 4 years ago, said...

this trailer of Alive Inside reveals the power music has to "awaken" minds considered closed. It Features Dr. Oliver Sacks and Dr. Bill Thomas, and the amazing men & women in patient care. The film was commissioned by the The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyZQf0p73QM


over 4 years ago, said...

medical supply stores do carry larger wipes but they are pricey.


over 4 years ago, said...

I love this place you can find answers and sometimes a little validation !>>>>it WORKS ! YOUR SO SMART ! and we use papertowels to dry also... dont want even the cleanest warm dark places kept too moist . ....cant stess that DONT FLUSH factor enuf !!!! thank you !


over 4 years ago, said...

I've ordered a couple of gowns ~ for a little lady I assist. All the kudos for "wipes" ~ guess they need to come in much larger sizes. . . Don't forget the no rinse washes that come in bottles, add with a little water, swish a wash rag in, squeeze a tad and wipe self or patient down. These were developed by NASA for astronauts. (No Rinse Moisturizing Body Wash ~ one product, found in many elder consumer catalogs ~ or at Medical Supply stores.)


over 4 years ago, said...

no matter what any label says, my plumber says NO wipes are flushable. period. believe him or pay. (thru the nose). they will totally clog your pipes.


over 4 years ago, said...

It is hard for me to get my husband to take a shower, so this might help him . The only time he will is when I tell him that he reeks.


over 4 years ago, said...

Thanks for the wise suggestions. One thing, if your using wipes, PLEASE, do not forget to trow them in the waste basket. Once I forgot and threw one in the toilet. It brought me a bothersome plumbing situation


over 4 years ago, said...

I'm already concerned about this, and appreciate all the hints I receive from Caring. Com.


over 4 years ago, said...

Using the wet wipes is a good idea. I'll try it when it gets difficult to get a bath going.