My mother-in-law has Alzheimer's and hates to take a shower. She was always been very conscious about her appearance, hair, makeup, clothes and jewelry. Now she is so unkept. When my father-in-law (who is so loving and patient) kindly asks or suggests that she takes a shower, she gets angry. Why does she not want to shower and why is she getting angry? Just looking to make sense of it and perhaps find a way to get her to shower without making her agitated. Thank you!


Have more questions and don't know where to turn?

Join our community and get access to monthly support calls, an online chat forum for questions, and even monthly 1:1 calls with Rachael! CLICK HERE for more information.

Hi, thanks for writing in! Let’s see if we can break this down a little bit. For one, she’s probably like many of my residents, who are convinced that they “already took a shower earlier.” Some of my residents also just hate showering in front of other people. They know that they need help, and it’s awkward to have someone else helping you when you’re naked and bathing! She may also feel like him asking her to shower is demeaning. Perhaps she feels as though she is clean, and him asking makes her feel awkward and upset.

The best thing to do here is to figure out what her pattern used to be. Many people with dementia have bad hygiene. I see this a lot. Find out when she used to shower. Was it after she first woke up? Was it before she went to bed? She’ll prefer to shower, probably, when it’s her normal time of day.

It’s awkward to recommend this to you, probably, but I’ll do it anyway: I had a resident once who refused to shower when she lived at home, but her husband used to shower WITH her. She enjoyed the company and it was more a romantic gesture, so she didn’t feel as though he was “helping” her–they were just spending more intimate time together.

Liked it? Take a second to support Rachael Wonderlin on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

16 things poster
Get the FREE “16 Things” poster!

You're not alone!

Get personal support from Rachael and connect with other Caregivers when you join our community.

16 Things I Would Want If I Got Dementia

Get the FREE “16 Things” poster for your personal use—or better yet—your dementia care community’s staff break room!

I wrote this poem years ago, but to date, it’s the most popular piece I’ve ever created.

When you sign up, you’ll also get access to Rachael’s weekly newsletter so that you can get her top tips, links to new content as soon as it’s released, and special offers directly in your inbox! We’ll never sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

16 things poster
Shopping Cart

Have questions?

Book a Dementia Detective
call and talk to a DBD expert!