Refusal to Bathe

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 Caregiver Training Part VI: Refusal to Bathe





Lauren explains that her mother used to bathe every day. Her mother now refuses and says she's afraid of the water. Lauren wants to know what to do.



Subtitle Languages: French & Hungarian

Common response: Lauren attempts to get her mother to shower. Her mother resists and tells Lauren to leave her alone. Lauren pleads with her mother but gets nowhere. She leaves the room, frustrated.

Expert explanation: REFUSAL TO BATHE is a common behavior in people with dementia. Bathing can become scary as dementia progresses. Since bathing is a personal activity, the recommended approach is to be sensitive, tactful and respectful of the person's dignity and sense of modesty.

Recommended response: Lauren tells her mother it is time for her spa treatment. She is able to get her mother near the bathroom and then tells her before each step what she is about to do. Lauren remains calm and kind and asks her mother to test the water temperature. She makes slow, thoughtful movements so as not to scare or startle her mother. She also asks her mother to participate, letting her do what she can to bathe herself.

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The project described was supported by Grant Number 1C1CMS330982 from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies. This project was funded, in part, by the Archstone Foundation.