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Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 07/12/11
I am a professional caregiver and I am having a hard time with the family of the lady I am caring for. The main problem is that the son said that his mother smelled. So I put a shower chair in the shower and use a hand held shower to wash her off. She is completely deaf without her hearing aid, so I cannot tell her what I am going to do before washing a body part. The chair helped and so did the hand held shower device. She refuses to use soap, but I have to use it or she will stink. She screams when I wash her and tries to push my hand away. I have warmed up some towels and used them after the shower because she complains that she is cold; she hates those too. The son took the shower chair out of the shower, so now I will not be able to wash her easily. Next time, I am going to put my bathing suit on and wash her.

Any other ideas?


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Name: Constance JM Musgrove
Location: Bridgeville, DE
Date: 07/14/2011
Time: 08:33 PM


Does your Client enjoy music..? Sometimes, a soft music presence, seems to sooth and calm them. Use a battery operated player, and music from her era.

Name: Nancy
Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Date: 07/14/2011
Time: 06:51 AM


Bathing without a Battle might be a great resource for you. It's a bathing method that was developed by nurses and can be used both by family cargivers at home as well as facility caregivers. You might want to see if your local library has the book or DVD available, if not you'd have to order it. You can find it on-line -just plug in Bathing without a Battle.

Name: Thelma
Location: Florida
Date: 07/12/2011
Time: 11:29 PM


Try giving her a bath in her bed. I had a problem with my husband until I started giving him his bath in bed. I use dove soap and it has a light scent. I can also hand him a cloth to wash his private parts, which he does with out any complaint. I keep him covered except for the area that is being washed. This might help in keeping her from getting cold. I use a lotion on my husband that is pleasant to smell. He gets two baths a day, one in the morning and one at night. It is important to dry all area well. I use baby powder which helps keep protect the skin as well. Hope this helps.

Name: Teresa L
Location: Kansas
Date: 07/12/2011
Time: 02:52 PM


Does the woman have dementia? There are many ways of communicating that do not include verbal- you can show her what you are going to do (like use a washing motion between your legs to show her that you are going to do that next) Or you can tell her what the plan will be beforehand. You can use pictures taped to the shower wall to point to. I'm going to assume she does not have dementia. If she refuses to use soap, that is her right. There are wash products that do not have soap in them. There are also redi-bath wipes that work pretty well for taking care of odor especially in sensitive areas. You can get a glycerine soap which is not detergent based...I think it goes by the name 'purpose'. Some people are extremely sensitive to perfumes and detergents. My daughter has reactions to soaps, but sensitive skin dove works well for her. Sitz bath is also an alternative for the peri-region. Has she ever explained to you why she does not want to use soap? I really don't recommend you get in the shower with her in a bathing suit, I find that to be unprofessional. I wish I had more information, allow her to wash her own body as much as possible- her choices are important.

Name: Crystal
Location: Colorado
Date: 07/12/2011
Time: 09:30 AM


You may try writing things down and going over them before the shower is she is able to comprehend. Also if she is able to comprehend you may ask her how she would like it done or let her wash her more private places. There are also bowls that sit on the toilet and you can soak her private parts on days in between showers so she has fewer showers. Also bed baths may be better for her.

Name: Belinda
Location: Washington, DC
Date: 07/12/2011
Time: 09:17 AM


I can very much relate to your frustration in such a situation. First as far as removing the shower that something he does so he can take a shower. I had that problem at my home when my mother was staying with me and my step-son every morning would remove the shower seat. At first I would just put it back but I finally decided to talk with him about it explaining how the shower seat although an obstacle to him was a safety need for my mother. I asked when he removed it in the morning if he could just take an additional five minutes and put it back. Not sure if that will help with that issue. Now the problem with the cleansing...soap can be somewhat irritating to the private area. Have you tried some of the things made specifically for cleansing that area? Also if trying to do it in the shower doesn't work...perhaps putting a blue pad on the bed and using some cleansing wipes, again that are specifically designed for the private area, to clean before she gets in the shower might help as well. Hope these few suggestions will be of assistance

Date: 07/12/2011
Time: 07:07 AM


I suggest you tell the son it's time his mother went into a facility that can care for her!!

Name: Mary
Location: Oregon
Date: 07/12/2011
Time: 07:00 AM


Hello B, I am a professional caregiver too. You need to have a sit down conversation with your clients son and explain the logistical aspects of his mothers care.1) Explain that you need the chair in the shower area so his mom can rest and be comfotable at shower time.2)To add to your clients comfort level, drape her in a large beach towel then seat her on the shower chair. As she has hearing loss "undrape" the body area that is going to be washed, this will signal to her what part of the body is going to be washed. I have found that the towel provides a level of modesty that makes a shower more comfortable. 3) Invite the client to wash private areas if she is able to. I know that some Elders can be very "shower resistance" but feel better after they are clean and dry. I hope some of this helps. Take Care, Mary

Name: Nina
Location: Indian Lake, NY
Date: 07/12/2011
Time: 06:41 AM


Try to speak with her before you start the shower and tell her as much as possible, with the hearing aid in, about what you wish to do. Also, the son needs to understand that the shower chair is not just about ease in showering his mother, but about her safety. Is tyhere a reason that she does not like the soap, ie. it stings if it gets in her eyes? Try to find out and use tear free shampoo for her whole body, it will still clean, but will not sting as much in her eyes or any sores or cuts. Suggest that while you are helping to shower his mother, the son might want to find other things to occupy him, so that he is not aggitating his mother or in your way with ideas and opinions, unless he is needed for safety reasons. If you work with an agency, talk to the people you work with.

Date: 07/12/2011
Time: 06:02 AM


Bless you for your caring persistence. How about turning on some soothing music in the background (which I realize you'd have to turn up the volume for her to hear)? If you give the patient the washcloth what does she do with it? How about covering part of her (with a towel)while you bathe another part. How about a small portable heater in the bathroom to warm her up after the bath? I cannot understand why the family would remove the shower chair; can you put it back in just for the time of the bath? Much luck; I'm sure you will find a way to accomplish the task.



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