Resources, Tips, tools & skills, Toward better care

16th alzheimer shower-time tip applies to everything

I love it when people add their knowledge to mine, especially when they are really specific and the advice is spot on. When I posted 15 tips to make alzheimer dementia shower time successful not stressful, Becky Gabbard. who follows MyAlzheimersStory on Facebook, made this comment:

“Good suggestions. But I didn’t see one asking for permission as the process progresses on a daily basis.There were some days Mom could wash herself and shampoo her hair and other days she was lost. So at every step I asked her “Do you want to wash your _____ or would you like me to help you do it?”

And she would say “I’ll do it.” or “Thank you,” and then she let me do it. I watched her balk at others’ giving her “help” as they just did what they thought they had to do, and didn’t ask her if she wanted help or could do it herself — especially in the bathroom! Even in her severe stage there were days she could do it herself and other days she was lost as to what to do first, from the simplest things such as pulling down her pants before she sat on the toilet. Asking, and asking her permission, made us happy dance partners in the bathroom.”

I found exactly the same thing when helping Mom. She knew at any given moment what she felt confident doing as well as what was too much. Asking if she wanted or needed help gave her the opportunity to do whatever it was for herself when she could or to get assistance in a respectful way when she couldn’t. I feel certain this allowed us to avert many potential confrontations. Here’s an example of the kind of situation that may ensue when we don’t ask permission.

Asking permission is so important that I’m going to add it to to the “A” in my BANGS model. And it occurred to me that an easy way to remember this step for people of my generation would  be to recall the childhood game “Mother May !?

Do you have any great care partnering tips to share? I would love the hear them.

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6 thoughts on “16th alzheimer shower-time tip applies to everything”

  1. This is a great topic with great tips. My mom had severe COPD and when she would take a bath she would become so nervous that she would hyperventilate, and I would need to get a paper bag for her to breathe into. I think my problem was that I anticipated her nervous attack and became nervous myself. So I agree that a lot of it is being very calm and sure of yourself before helping a parent to bathe.


    1. Thanks Paulan,

      Your comment reminded me of a story that one of the family members of one of mom’s fellow residents in ElderJail told me. On her once-a-week bath day her mother complained to the person who was giving the whirlpool residents their baths that she was afraid and couldn’t breathe (her mother was on oxygen, frail, and actively dying), and the whirlpool bath person responded “well, if you’d just be quiet and stop talking, you wouldn’t have a problem breathing.” This was a kind of attitude they had, and I wager still have. It enrages me just to think of it.

      I’m sure you did a great job of taking care of your mom, and you will receive many blessings as a result. I love the fact that you pointed out that our feelings and level of anxiety are easily transferred to the person under our care (whether they live with dementia or not), and that when we remain calm, it’s much easier for them to remain calm as well. Thanks for that ❤


  2. Excellent reminder, asking permission for care is protocol in a hospital, from asking permission to come in the room, to any other kinds of care. The problem though, starts at the administrative level. TIME. Allowing caregivers this kind of permission protocol requires allowing them time, to ask, to wait, to shift routines etc.


    1. Totally agree with you Dawn Marie. Ironically, I believe it would save time in the end because it would decrease agitation and aggression that are the result of hastier approaches.


  3. I really struggle with getting my mother to shower. She insists that she’s already had a shower. My suggesting she needs a shower is taken as an insult- that I’m suggesting she’s dirty. I don’t know how to get her even close to having a shower.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.


    1. Has she always showered? Or did she take baths? If baths, maybe try a bath.

      I don’t know what approaches you have tried, or what her memory is like but you could try lying with something such as: “Mom you asked me on Monday to remind you to take a shower on Thursday. I know how much you like to be clean and you are a very clean person, so I’m reminding you that it’s shower day because today is Thursday.”

      Motivating her in a way that’s meaningful to her (not you) will help if you can figure something out. Also, she may be afraid of something – falling, hot water, etc. if you can find out and address fears it might also help.

      I don’t have a lot of information from you I.e. Does she live on her own? Do you live with her? Is she in a home etc.?

      Are you in a place where you might be able to access a specialist or expert to give you advice? Although, that said, sometimes the “experts” don’t know what they are talking about… 😦


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