A Guide for When Your Elderly Parent Will Not Bathe

Caring for a parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be extremely challenging. While it’s nice to be close to parents and ensure that they’re well cared for, many of the symptoms of dementia can be particularly difficult — particularly when sufferers refuse to bathe. A refusal to bathe is a common symptom of dementia, and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, appears around stage 5 of dementia.

The reasons that sufferers of dementia resist bathing are many. They may feel depressed about their condition and not motivated to care for themselves. The process of bathing might feel too complex or burdensome. They may simply forget to bathe, or may fear slipping or having hot water put on them.

Despite the challenge of a parent with dementia refusing to bathe, personal hygiene is very important — so it can help to learn how to best deal with a bath-time refusal. The following tips can help you deal with a parent who is refusing to bathe and ensure that your parent stays clean — and that the difficulty of the situation is as minimal as possible.

Thankfully, it’s easy to reduce your risk of falls. Follow these steps to protect yourself and your loved ones!

1. Ensure the Shower and Bath Are as Safe and Comfortable as Possible

Minimize the chance that your loved one is uncomfortable in the tub. Make sure that the bath or shower has a grab bar, and consider providing a stool and a hand-held shower head. If you are bathing your parent, clearly tell them what you are doing step-by-step, so they’re not surprised by anything that they feel.

2. Allow Them Some Privacy

If your parent values privacy and feels uncomfortable being bathed, try to cover them with a bath blanket or towel while they undress. Allow them to do as much cleaning as they are capable of, and lend a hand when it’s needed. If your parent would rather not have a family member bathe them, it can help to hire an in-home caregiver who is trained in giving baths.

3. Incorporate Other Hygiene Tactics

A bath isn’t necessary for everyone every day. Instead, try things like dry shampoo, which can keep your parent’s hair clean longer, or even sponge baths, so that the process is less invasive and quicker.


If you live in the greater Atlanta area and have a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may want to consider getting help from Angel Companions. Angel Companions can provide trained caregivers who know how to help with issues like a person’s refusal to bathe, and much more. Having a home care provider there with you while you help care for a parent with dementia can help ensure that your loved one is safe, and that the situation is as stress-free as it can possibly be.

If you have any questions please use our contact page form or call us today at 770-579-5000!