My mother refuses to take a tub bath — something she always loved. What can I do?
Hygiene is often a concern as Alzheimer’s progresses. Reluctance to get into a bathtub often has to do with safety concerns for the individual involved so realize what you’re up against. A fear of falling might make her fearful about climbing into the bath. She also might be worried about the water being too cold or too hot, so make sure the temperature is suitable and THEN try to get her into the bath. Difficulty dealing with spatial relationships also can be a challenge with Alzheimer’s patients. When walking, they might not realize a black line or patch on a carpet is not a hole they can fall into. While bathing, they might not be able to discern where the water line is. Adding a few drops of food coloring to the water or using bubble bath can help ease concerns or help your mother discern where the water begins. Another possible idea is to put a brightly colored bath mat on the bottom of the tub. Your mother needs contrast to help determine where the tub begins and ends and where the water begins. Frequently one of these tips or some other modification you discover will lead your mother to start enjoying baths again. For more information, an excellent resource is “The Indispensable Alzheimer’s Resource Kit.” It can be downloaded at no cost by clicking here.