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Reasons Why Seniors Avoid Bathing and How to Assist Them

It is important to maintain good hygiene because it is beneficial for a person’s health. It is also a good indicator of a person’s mental health—if they find it difficult to take care of themselves, it could be a sign of a bad mental state but as people age into seniors, it could get difficult to maintain good hygiene by themselves due to a variety of reasons. This can lead to seniors “letting themselves go”. This means forgetting or not doing their hygiene routine such as brushing their teeth, fixing their hair, using lotion to avoid dry skin, or most importantly bathing.

Why do Seniors Avoid Bathing?

The elderly could develop an aversion to bathing and it could cause some health issues and it can make caregiving difficult but what causes this aversion? Here are some reasons (because knowing can help you understand!):

Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia may have problems with their vision—specifically their depth perception. They may also feel uncomfortable or embarrassed receiving assistance due to the intimacy of bathing.


If your senior loved one had a routine of brushing their teeth, wearing makeup, bathing, etc., and suddenly stopped, it might be a sign of depression. It is wise to rule out depression first when addressing energy problems. Depression isn’t always obvious at first glance so a check-up with a doctor is a good idea.


Unfortunately, a lot of seniors don’t have a lot of activities throughout the week like they were younger. The next day will feel like yesterday and it could make them lose track of time if they don’t have any company over, why would they exert extra energy to take a bath when they could just sit around? This could be another reason.

Impaired Senses

When we age, our senses tend to become dull. Young people can quickly pick up strong smells such as urine, sweat, and feces but the elderly have a hard time doing the same. This results in seniors showering or bathing and changing their clothes less frequently.

Age-Related Physical Decline

Age-related decline can cause a senior to have mobility and joint issues. This can prevent them from taking baths and other activities that maintain their hygiene.

Discomfort and Fear

Due to the types of surfaces in bathrooms, bathrooms make a perfect environment for slips and falls. Mobility issues can affect their balance and it could cause a feeling of fear when it’s time to take a bath. Seniors can also feel uncomfortable when taking a bath. They can get cold easily and the process of bathing can take a lot of energy from them which can make seniors avoid bathing.

How do We Provide Assistance?

Assisting doesn’t just mean physically assisting seniors when taking baths. Understanding how they feel and preparing their mind and the environment can aid them in taking baths.

Make it Relaxing

Playing some soft and soothing music, dimming the lights, turning up the heat, or giving massages can make a senior more relaxed. This can aid in relaxing your senior loved ones so that bath time will be enjoyable. Choose a perfect time in the day and make it consistent.

Frequent Baths Aren’t Necessary

The majority of Americans take frequent baths but it isn’t necessary for good health. For seniors, bathing once or twice a week is necessary. This is to prevent skin infections from happening. Seniors aren’t as active as younger adults and could afford not to take as many baths. A washcloth with warm water or bathing wipes can aid in preventing body odor.

Prepare the Bathroom Beforehand

Make sure that everything is within arm’s reach. You should be able to not leave a senior to get something when bathing. When your senior loved one sees you preparing their bath, this will aid in preparing themselves mentally for it.

Lots of Patience and Respect

Seniors like to take their time when doing activities and that includes bathing which means caregivers need to have a lot of patience for them while respecting their time. Avoid rushing them when it’s bath time but give them options rather than demands or instructions—this will make seniors more likely to bathe.

Ask them if they feel like bathing before or after dinner. Make them comfortable so respect their privacy. If bathing with clothing on makes your senior loved one more comfortable then respect that decision. This will aid in building trust and respect for each other.

Bathing is essential for preventing sickness and infections. Knowing how to approach seniors who have an aversion toward bathing is essential—this will make bath time smoother and faster.

In Need of Assistance?

Are you interested in assisting and caring for senior citizens in their homes? Unified Pledge provides in-home senior care that any senior can benefit from. Unified Pledge is a leading provider of in-home senior care solutions in Palm Beach County and Broward County. We offer free, no-obligation in-home consultations, cost estimates, and insurance policy benefit reviews.

We also provide other types of home care services such as in-home nurse care, long-term care, and physical therapy.

Give us a call so we can help you create a custom home care solution for yourself or your loved one.



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