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I Have Alzheimer’s or Another Dementia
Insight as to why showers cause anxiety?
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:
Any personal experience you can share that would give me some insight into her thoughts would be most welcome. Thank you.
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.
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.
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!
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:
That is ALL VERY GOOD ideas for someone havimg dementia and taking a shower. I have extreme anxiety about gettimg in and out of.my 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! I.got 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!
Thanks, Vik. Fear of falling and potential dizziness weren't even on my radar.
I super appreciate all your advice, guys!
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.
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.
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 .
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.
Has anyone tried something like Wet Wash Gloves? I just found this online now: https://hygienic.com/en/products/wash-gloves/promotion-hygienic-wet-wash-gloves-copie/
My mom is still showering on her own, but I'm educating myself for the future. What everyone said here about why showers are so uncomfortable makes me think I shouldn't even try to put my mother through that if/when the time comes. And I wonder if I can make something like this myself. I don't know what the ingredients are in the Wet Wash Gloves, but I'm wondering if a gentle, no-rinse, cleansing solution can be made at home and used with soft, washable gloves.
Thank you to everyone for their insight. This thread is very eye-opening.
There are several sites for homemade or DIY wet wipes or baby wipes. Look for no-rinse formulas.