How can I convince my wife to bathe?

4 answers | Last updated: Nov 16, 2016
Springman asked...

I cannot get my wife to bathe on her own and she will not accept help. Is there any thing I can do?

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

It is strange how we are sometimes just stopped in our tracks.   For a time there is nothing to do but live with a wife who is less than hygenic.

In my work with elders I have been through this many times.  Although it is difficult,   patience is required as well as ingenuity. 

  • Don't give up.   Offer a bath each day.  Ask her if she would  like bubble bath?  
  • Run a bath for her.  Put a rubber duck in the tub.  Let her watch it float around..
  • Consult with the visiting nurse service in your area.    See if you can get a nurse to come and advise you on how to get her in the bath.  Perhaps, she could even have a bed bath.
  • Ask your wife out to dinner or some other activity that she enjoys. She may want to wash if she feels there is a point.   She has to come to it herself.
  • Try to attend a support group for family caregivers.   When you see what other caregivers are going through, it might lighten your mood.   Your light mood could perk her up and make her want to bathe.
  • Look for's local resources in your area to find support groups, visiting nurses and any other groups that could be of help to you while you are going through this difficult time.

Community Answers

Kymed answered...

Also, you might want to consider giving her the option to "freshen up" with moist wipes. This is a good alternative for alot of caregivers who cannot get their loved one to bathe, although it is a temporary solution.
When my grandmother was ill and did not want to get into the bath, we convinced her that using the moist wipes would help her skin to maintain its youthfullness because the wipes had aloe in them.

The wipes did work really well, they are disposable, and do not have alcohol in them so they do not sting dry skin.

The wipes can be purchased in bulk at:

Punkersad-sharon midlothian, il answered...

Try to find out why she won't do it. Watch her when she moves around. Is she afraid of falling? We got my dad a slide in seat. It goes over the edge of the tub and he can sit on it outside the tub and just lift his legs over and then slide over. Is she afraid of the water coming on her head when she does not expect it? Then get her a hand held shower. My dad was blind and could never tell how to balance the water. We finally got an adaption to the faucet that turned off the water if it was too hot. We also got some paint that creates a raised edge. My dad would just match up the 2 areas of paint and would know that he was at the right temperature. We also put little rough stars and stripes in the bathtub and on the floor in the bathroom. That helped to prevent him from slipping. Sometimes modesty is a problem, even with her husband. If she has dementia she might be forgetting who you are for a brief time and she does not want a stranger helping her, especially a man. maybe she will take a shower in her swimming suit. With my dad we would put a towel over the bottom half and was the top and then move the towel. It seemed to help. This might help you too. Basically you have to take one day at a time and try to figure out why she does not want to bathe.

Trookie answered...

Make bath time a happy time..let your voice show delight with the idea of getting "squeaky clean"...this works for me with my mom-in-law. We have a wonderful walk in shower with tile bench. Place a stadium cushion on bench and it is just the right height. Use hand held shower wand and then stand with walker for rinse off. We shower about three times per week and enjoy "spit baths" in between. Making it a FUN experience overcomes her resistance to bathing...hope this helps