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Insight as to why showers cause anxiety?
Posted: Monday, January 14, 2019 9:31 PM
Joined: 2/3/2018
Posts: 357

My mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia 7 years ago. The last 6-months she has become fearful, angry, combative about taking showers, and once we do get her in one she cries or cusses - clearly extremely stressed. We can find loads of advice on how to minimize her stress, some which sort of work for her, some that do not, but it's all advice from caregivers. So I would like to ask this community, as you are experiencing dementia first-hand and know more than we do:

  • Can you give me any insight as to what is causing so much stress around showering?
  •  Do you also have this issue?
  •  If so, what are your triggers when bathing/showering?
  •  What, if anything, de-stresses you?

Any personal experience you can share that would give me some insight into her thoughts would be most welcome. Thank you.

Iris L.
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 12:11 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 15992

Thank you for asking.  Your mom probably feels disoriented and unsteady in the shower, especially if she has to close her eyes from the water spray.  A few suggestions:

Make sure the bathroom is very warm and comfortable.

Use a flexible shower hose so that water does not get in her face.

Seat her in a sturdy shower chair.

Dry her quickly.

Dress her in warm pajamas or other clothing.

Make use of adult wipes as needed.

This is all I can think of now. Others may have more suggestions.


Iris L.

Mimi S.
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 10:08 AM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 7036

Iris, as always, has some very good ideas.


I doubt that PD having these probles woud be posting on this site. Those days are gone.


In addition to what Iris wrote.


Figure out the best time of day.
Don't ask, just lead her in.


Have clothes ready. Don't ask what she wants to wear. If you do wat her to have a choice, let it be between two outfits.


Sometimes covering mirrors helps.


One does not need to bathe daily.
Michael Ellenbogen
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 10:50 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2276

 She may also may not like being seen in the nude so use some type of cover to protect her from being seen when washing. Try using her hand with your hand holding on to hers to actually do the washing so you are not touching her. 

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 1:00 PM
Joined: 2/3/2018
Posts: 357

Thanks guys. We've got everything you suggested covered except a shower chair, and we have just started working on different times of the day with some success. Your input helps me know that we are on the right track, and gives me a couple of new strategies to try. Shower chair here we come!

Have a wonderful day in your neck of the woods!

~ Lickety

Agent 99
Posted: Monday, January 21, 2019 3:41 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 2152

Teepa Snow is a force in dementia care and education.  THere are many youtubes where she covers techniques for challenging caregiving tasks.  Here’s something you may find useful about bathing:

Posted: Friday, March 8, 2019 8:02 AM
Joined: 2/26/2019
Posts: 172

That is ALL VERY GOOD ideas for someone havimg dementia and taking a shower. I have extreme anxiety about gettimg in and out bathtub and posible falling. Most of it is the fear of getting hurt badly, and other is havimg seen that commercisl of a senor fallimg in.the bathroom.  I hav been usimg a hamdicap chair in my tub for two years.  The chair is alot safer, as a person first sits down on the chair and then turns 180° to get into the tub without fallimg. I would HIGHLY SUGGEST this for ANYONE having trouble gettimg in and out of the tub!  SO MUCH MORE SAFER!  My dilima is that as my dementia has progressed, its gettimg harder to turn around on the chair, both gettimg in and out of the tub. The turning around 180° seems to make me dizzy for a moment which leads to even more anxiety with the additional fear of falling and getting disoriented. Those of us with dementia hav enuff incidents of feeling disoriented, without ADDING more instances of falling, in the tub, etc.  Our local American Legion loans out MANY TYPES of handicapped equipment, tools, and aids includimg shower chairs!  Just make sure u get the showet chair that ONLY has an armrest on one side, as thats the side where u turn into the tub. Otherwise ive seen them at garage sales also and would just spray them with lysol bfor bringing them into ur house.

Im looking at having a walkin shower installed into my bathroom as it would b ALOT easier now for me, especially living by myself.  The walkin.shower would eliminate the turning around stage that would decrease the dizziness and disorientation!  So, it would b worth the cost of the shower chair even if only used for months or for only a year.  I used my chair for 2 yrs., and hav gotten to the point that.the disorientation happens when i turn around, even tho i only turn 180°.   When i got the first estimate for the bathroom remodel, it was $6000! a second estimate which was $4500, but having been on disability for two years, i.dont even hav $4500! Disability payments are far less than the cost of living tho, but at least im.thankful for some income! I would be interested in hearing about any tips and tools all of u use to make life a little more tolerable when fighting dementia!



Posted: Friday, March 8, 2019 8:31 AM
Joined: 2/26/2019
Posts: 172

Mimi, your ideas are WONDERFUL too. As a dementia person who gets frustrated when having to make ANY TYPE of decision no matter how easy IT SHOULD B, giving me only two or one option to chose from would make my life much EASIER! You gav me the idea to now read the CAREGIVER posts for some tips while im living alone, and then when i need a caregiver.
Posted: Friday, March 8, 2019 8:36 AM
Joined: 2/26/2019
Posts: 172

Those are VERY GOOD insights into why someoone would get frustrated with havimg other peopl assist with the bath/shower.  Im a VERY PRIVATE person so when i get to the point of needing assistance with my bath/shower, it will take quite awhile to get use to someone seeimg me without clothes.
Posted: Friday, March 8, 2019 8:46 AM
Joined: 2/26/2019
Posts: 172

Lickety Glitz good luck with ALL ur endeavors. I dont know if they hav problems with shaky hands like i do, but an electric tootbrush has made all the diffetence to me when brushimg my teeth.  As my dementia has progressed tho, now it is becoming almost too heavy to hold so i will soon need a portable electric toothbrush which would b much liter but would take replacing batteries.  Well, i am almost to the point of going to the lighther electric toothbrush....
Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2019 7:40 AM
Joined: 1/10/2019
Posts: 66

Vik thank you so much for your insight. My mom has Alzheimer and is still able to shower herself. I always pick out her clothes, make sure the water is the right temp, and that the bathroom is warm but just the mention of the shower sends her into a very emotional state. I never thought that there could be a fear of falling that she's unable to communicate with me. Thank you so much. God Bless
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 3:51 PM
Joined: 2/3/2018
Posts: 357

Thanks, Vik. Fear of falling and potential dizziness weren't even on my radar.

I super appreciate all your advice, guys!


Flamingo Life
Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2019 10:31 AM
Joined: 4/11/2019
Posts: 1

I have EO Dementia. Showers cause me an extreme amount of fear and anxiety because I had a terrible fall in the shower about 2 years ago. I sustained a open compound fracture of my left arm which required surgery, a non-displaced C2 fracture and a head injury. I also experience dizziness every time I close my eyes and move around in the shower, which creates even more anxiety. I put off showering a lot and clean up at the sink often and use dry shampoo for my hair. I guess I'm very stubborn and won't use my shower chair that I have already. My husband offers constantly to help me but as I stated, I'm very bullheaded and will decline his kindness to help me. I often find that I forget when I have showered so I keep a shower reminder, ( I keep multiple writing pads everywhere to remind me to do just about everything now), I always loved and enjoyed my daily showers since I was very young. As a matter of fact as a teen I was often told to decrease the amount of time I spent in the shower because I would empty a 50 gallon hot water heater! I also experience the shaking of my hands and legs often which creates a very difficult situation in the shower. I know I need to get rid of my stubbornness and bullheadedness to help myself and my very kind, compassionate and loving husband. I just can't seem to let that go, because I feel I have lost so much of the "Old ME!"

We are intending on getting our master bathroom remodeled with a tub and much more user friendly shower. We have been saving for quite awhile to be able to do the remodel.




Iris L.
Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2019 12:04 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 15992

Welcome Flamingo Life.  Regarding reluctance to making accommodations for showering: you could become a Dementia Pioneer and seek new ways of dealing with your new life challenges.  Becoming a Dementia Pioneer is the only way I can address the new challenges in my life.  I am going to do whatever it takes to maintain my independence.

Please keep reading and keep posting.  I truly believe that there is wisdom for us on these pages.  

Iris L.

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2019 10:56 PM
Joined: 2/26/2019
Posts: 172

Dear Flamingo, do u hav diagnosis or been checked for "Mixed Dementia" sinc ur having dizziness, etc.? Lewy Body dementia causes dizziness, etc., so may b worth asking ur neurologist about.  Just a thought....
Posted: Friday, April 12, 2019 1:09 AM
Joined: 1/11/2019
Posts: 70

The dang shower anxiety.   I'm fine until I close my eyes and get dizzy or off balance.   Very uncomfortable.   I hope you remodel will help with your stress.   That fall you had sounds awful.   It is certainly understandable why you fear the shower .  



Posted: Friday, April 12, 2019 11:08 PM
Joined: 2/26/2019
Posts: 172

You can get finamcial assistance with the walkin shower thru ur local, county, or state Dept.of Human Services. There are funds out there to hav house modifications done to prolong someone from going into assisted living.
Posted: Monday, July 1, 2019 10:55 AM
Joined: 3/4/2019
Posts: 8

As a person with dementia, I can tell you I hate taking showers.  I feel sick to my stomach when the water is hitting me, and I often lose my balance and bounce off the walls.  Baths are also uncomfortable because I don't fit my entire body under the water and feel exposed.  Even if I'm alone or my husband is in the house I feel like someone is going to come in at any minute.

I hope this makes sense and helps people understand from a person with dementia's point of view.