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  • Writer's pictureLickety Glitz

How to bathe a Beast.

Updated: Dec 9, 2020



Does your dementia loved one turn tiger-by-the-tail on you when bath time looms? Ours does. But after a week of Mom looking and smelling fouler every day, we saw an opportunity and pounced. Amidst the thrashing, scratching, and screaming we showered the crap out of her. Here's the method no one in their right mind has ever recommended, but in desperation we did it anyway.


Prepare: Have a second person with you. Do not attempt this on your own. The Beast will destroy you! There is safety in a pack of two. Also, use extreme gentle force, firm but soft. It's the opposite of extreme brute force 'cause, you know, she's old and brittle, and things will just break and fall right off old Beasts if you ain't careful.


  • Step 1: Ambush the Beast when she's on the toilet. Pants and underwear are already down! You're halfway there!


  • Step 2: Have one person in front of the Beast, soothing and placating. This will not make any difference to the Beast, but at least you'll feel like less of an asshole.


  • Step 3: Have the other person frantically try to get the remainder of the clothes off as quickly as possible. If you are the Soothing Front Person, make sure you get your arms out of the way while maintaining your hold on the Beast so the Frantic Back Person can do her job.


  • Step 4: Do not explode with rage when your Beast screams bloody murder an inch from your face. Look to the Frantic Back Person when this happens as they will be trying to suppress laughter at your predicament while they desperately try to get a flailing arm out of a sweater. Fight the temptation to reach over and smack that smirk right off 'em, YOU ARE IN THIS TOGETHER! Use their amusement to ease your tension.


  • Step 5: Grab everything currently in the shower and throw it in the sink. Repeat: Have nothing in the shower! The Beast will use all means at her disposal to kill you, and as she probably washed your mouth out with soap as a child, dementia has made sure she has no qualms about shoving that bar of soap so far down your throat that you choke to death should she get the chance.


  • Step 8: Hold the Beast around the waist while both of you body guide her to, and in, the shower.


  • Step 9: The smaller the shower the better. Don't give the Beast room to maneuver, to strike, to slay!


  • Step 10: SHOWER FAST! This is no time for special body washes, creme rinses, Shea butter fancy-pants crap! Your Beast is now at the height of her terror, and thus at her most dangerous. Shampoo on the head! Wash cloth to the who-ha, then the backside! Rinse! Call it good!


  • Step 11: Wrap your Beast in the biggest, softest, warmest towel you can, empathize with her fear, apologize over and over, hug and love her now that she's calming down, wipe your own tears away, and pray to gawd this is the only time you have to shower like this.


Recommended follow up measure: Split a bottle of wine (or two) with the Frantic Back Person later, wonder if the two of you were Beasts as children when it came to cleanliness, and share a bittersweet chuckle at the absurdity of your life with that dementia person you both love more than anyone else in the world.


Disclaimer: No dementia mother's were actually harmed in the showering of this Beast. They were just really, really pissed off.


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Lickety Glitz
Lickety Glitz
Apr 01, 2019

Vickie! Thank you for joining us and giving insight into the shower issue! It has become easier as of late, so we're working on it. I think everything you said may be part of what makes Mom so resistant. We do have a walk-in shower, and we got a shower stool thinking if she could sit down she may be less anxious. Well, she won't sit down, but something about it taking up more space in the shower seems to be helpful for her. Maybe because there is now less open space to navigate, and/or fall?


Mom has done really well on a low-dose of Zoloft. We started it last spring and have been pleased with the relief it gives…


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vickie setterberg
vickie setterberg
Apr 01, 2019

Being an Early Onset Dementia person (65 yrs.old), i hav already.already.felt the onslaught of postponing showers. Most of it for me is the terror of falling. I fall alot anyway, so stepping over a tub makesy hair bristle. Im currently in the process of finamcisl assistance to hav tub taken outand walkin showwr installed with lots of grab bars.


The other issues of not wanting to takea shower is my dementia depression amd apathy! Dealing with my diagnosis has thrown me into a deep depression ( i am now comi g out of it with antidfepressant med and COUNSELLIMG!) My depression has included denial, hopelessness, and anger.


Which brings me to my last point of why we dont like to.take…

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Lickety Glitz
Lickety Glitz
Mar 12, 2019

Chocolate! That's a very good substitute!


I scolded Mom once for wishing to die. I shouldn't have. I can only guess at the pressures and stresses she was feeling. But I did anyway. I told her it will all end soon enough, and the day of her death has already been decided, so she could mope and hope it would get here sooner, which won't make it happen, or realize that since she's got to be alive until that day comes, she may be better served making the most of the time that she is still here. She wasn't too happy with me. So then we had some ice cream. And I'm pretty sure it was chocolate. ;)

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zarelha
Mar 11, 2019

Thank you for the recommendation of Alzconnected. I guess we figured since it's not Alzheimer's, those groups would not apply, but the longer we're here the more I realize (not all of us do) that vascular dementia is likely NOT going to get any better and we've got to prepare, And unfortunately, in one of his rare lucid moments, Dad seems to realize it too. Today is the first time I've heard him say he just wants to sleep "forever" so as not to give anyone any more work since "living like this is not worth it." So so sad for him. It's hard for us, but much more so for him when he realizes it. 95% of the time…


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Lickety Glitz
Lickety Glitz
Mar 10, 2019

Have you and your siblings accessed Alzconnected yet?


https://www.alzconnected.org/default.aspx


The Caregiver forum has been an invaluable resource for me. I even hopped onto the I Have Alzheimer's side of the forums to ask those who are living with dementia why bathing is so frightening for them, hoping I could get some insight to make it easier on Mom, but unfortunately they couldn't give me an answer. They said those who are now reaching that stage are no longer on the forums. We are still having fights with bathing, but Mom's new Seroquel medication is making a difference in the level of physicality it takes to get her into one - thank gawd.


It's so great that you and your siblings…


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