Showering is a fundamental element of self-care. Taking a shower can make us feel refreshed, clean and put together – not to mention keep us healthy by removing bacteria from the surface of the skin.
However, this means that showering can be one of the first things people stop doing when their independence or mental health becomes impaired. But how common is it for elderly people to stop showering, and why does this so often happen?
How is it for older people to stop showering?
The phenomenon of elderly people ceasing showering is a common one. Many carers, nurses and other professionals will note that their patients seem less willing to shower as they grow older.
So, if you are concerned about a loved one avoiding the shower, know that they are not alone – this is quite normal.
This doesn’t change the fact, though, that those who stop showering will no longer experience the many benefits of washing, from the physical benefits such as keeping wounds clean and healthy, to the mental benefits of boosting confidence and waking up the brain.
Why do elderly people stop showering?
So, why exactly do some older people stop showering? There are a number of reasons why an elderly individual might begin to avoid showering.
Fear of falling or injury
Perhaps the most common reason for elderly people to stop showering is fear of falling or injury.
For individuals with decreased mobility, taking a shower can be a daunting prospect. They may worry that they will slip over getting in or out of the shower, or that they will struggle to stand up for the time it takes to wash.
Luckily, this concern is easily solved with the use of a walk-in shower. Features such as easy entry, grab bars and shower chairs can make showering much easier for older individuals with reduced mobility. Adding a non-slip surface to the floor will also give the individual peace of mind that they are unlikely to fall.
Of course, if the individual is unable to shower independently, there is also the option of half-height shower doors for assisted washing.
As we grow older, our memory function often declines, and among elderly people, this can be exacerbated by conditions such as dementia.
This can be a major cause of older people showering less, simply because they forget to do so. If you find that a loved one is unable to recall the last time they took a shower, why not try marking the dates they need to wash on a calendar, or calling to remind them?
Changes in the senses
Another simple reason why some people shower less frequently as they age is because of changes in the senses
Elderly people can experience a dulled sense of smell, meaning that they may not notice when it is time to take a shower.
However, on the other hand, reduced circulation can make older people particularly susceptible to the cold, meaning that they may avoid showering because it makes them uncomfortable. If this is the case, try setting your loved one’s bathroom heating to come on before the time they usually shower, so the room will be nice and warm getting in and out of the waters.
One of the more worrying reasons why elderly people may stop showering is depression. When we feel depressed, we become demotivated and find it hard to fulfil everyday tasks. This can lead us to give up on things like showering because we no longer see the point in doing so due to low self-esteem – or even because we struggle to get out of bed.
If you are worried that this may be the case for your loved one, it is important to encourage them to seek medical support. There are various forms of treatment available for individuals of all ages, and this can improve every aspect of the individual’s life – not just their personal hygiene habits.
Ask any care home employee and they will tell you that one of the things that patients struggle to adjust to the most when they move in is being assisted in the bathroom.
Many elderly people feel modest or embarrassed about undressing in front of another person. – especially someone they know. In this case, it could be useful to hire a medical professional or carer to help your loved one wash, as they will be reassured by the fact that this person has plenty of experience assisting others in the same way.
There may be many reasons why an elderly person would resist showering, so the most important thing to do if you notice this in a loved one is to talk to them sensitively and positively about it. You can then offer whatever support they need to help them get back on top of their washing routine again.
If you would like any advice about making showering easier for elderly relatives, give our mobility experts a call today on 0800 083 2034