How can we get my grandmother to bathe?

1 answer | Last updated: Aug 06, 2012
Lmp776 asked...

My mother takes care of my grandmother and she is now refusing to bathe. She is in her right mind and has a doctor's appointment this week. Can my mother be prosecuted for neglect if she can't get her to bathe and she's taken to the doctor without having a bath in months?

Expert Answers

Refusing to bathe is fairly common among elderly people, and there are several reasons for this. Bathing can become painful as muscles weaken and joints stiffen. Many seniors have balance problems, and fear falling. Depression can also make seniors lethargic about self-care; kind of like, "I'm going to die soon, so what's the point?" I'm glad your grandmother had a doctor's appointment because this is the best place to start. Hopefully the doctor helped shed light on why your grandmother is refusing to bathe.

In answer to your question about neglect; I'm not a lawyer but I seriously doubt your mother would be considered neglectful simply for this reason. Criminal neglect is more complex, and usually involves abandoning or starving someone, putting their life at risk. has lots of information on bathing, including on NOT bathing. Take a look at this Q&A about resistance to bathing.