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Getting your senior loved one to bathe or shower can be a struggle. Most family members worry that their loved one will develop a strong body odor, urinary tract infections or skin infections if they don’t bathe daily. Yet with the stress that comes with bathing your loved one, is showering each day really necessary? What expectations should you have for your parent and yourself?

Bathing Each Day is Not Necessary

While daily showering is nice, it’s not necessary. Most Americans shower each day, but it’s not essential for good health. Bathing once or twice a week is acceptable for older adults, as the purpose is to prevent the skin from breaking down and lower the risk of skin infections.

Seniors also tend to be less active than younger adults, so they can get away with fewer baths. However, you don’t want your loved one to develop body odor. To prevent this, use warm washcloths or bathing wipes to clean the armpits, genitals, feet, groin and skin folds. Do this in between baths.

Sponge Baths Work Just as Well

Another thing to know is that a proper bath for an older adult doesn’t mean being submerged in water. While it’s easiest to have your loved one shower or bathe in the tub, a sponge bath is just as effective. If your loved one has limited mobility or despises getting wet, try a sponge bath. Take advantage of the products available to you such as waterless cleansers, baby wipes and no-rinse shampoos.

Make Bath Time Relaxing

It can also help to make bathing more relaxing and fun. Playing soft, soothing music, turning up the heat, dimming the lights or giving massages can help your loved one relax and enjoy the experience. Try to choose a time in the day that is consistent, and leave yourself enough time so that you’re not rushed. You may even find it worthwhile to call this time “spa time”.

Practice Good Hygiene

The way your loved one uses the bathroom is important, too. Encourage them to clean the perineal area thoroughly to prevent urinary tract infections. Placing wipes in the bathroom is a smart idea, as wipes clean much better than ordinary toilet paper. If your loved one wears incontinence briefs, be sure to check them every couple of hours so that they don’t sit in them too long.

If your loved one is giving you trouble with showering, follow the tips above. One to two times a week is acceptable; just be sure that your loved one is wiping down sensitive areas and skin folds, changing their clothes each day and practicing good hygiene in the bathroom.