Why Take A Bath, Change Clothes, etc.

  1. I am just now completing my pre-requisites for nursing, and taking care of my 89 year old mother-in-law. Does anyone know how to convince old people that taking a bath, changing clothes, and using new needles for taking insulin, etc. is important? She says her clothes "aren't dirty" (same reasoning for her body) and needles can be used for weeks (if not months).
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  3. by   sanctuary
    Blame the clock, or the calander. "I know but it is Saturday," for the bath (give up on daily bathing, after all, she grew up on once a week, and that was when she worked hard and got sweaty.) Blame the law, "It is against the law to re-use a needle." Say the Public Health laws forbid it. Then get a sealed needle container (from the trash company) and put then in there, She won't be able to get them out, so will have to use new ones.
    And bless you.
  4. by   traumaRUs
    My father rarely bathed more than twice a week. Ugh is all I can say. Reusing insulin needles is frequently done in the home because of money concerns. No problems reusing for a couple of days as long as there is no risk of someone else getting stuck with a used needle.

    Like with kids, sometimes you have to pick your battles.
  5. by   fultzymom
    We run into this a lot where I work. For some reason when people get older, they do not want baths. They just refuse. We do whatever coaxing it takes to get them in the shower.

    My dad used his insulin needles over. It was not an issue of money for him because insurance paid. He just said it was wasting them to only use them once when it was his needle.
  6. by   ann945n
    Show her these pictures of reused insulin needles (its a site for animals with DM but it still gets the message across) OUCH!
  7. by   santhony44
    As someone else said, pick your battles.

    Elderly people probably don't need a bath every day as their skin tends to be rather dry. If she smells bad or is incontinent then that's another story and at least those areas need to be cleaned. She may also worry about getting into/out of the tub or shower, falls, etc. Does she "wash up" every day or two? I'd probably leave it alone, then.

    If your MIL is 89, then she may well have not grown up with running water. Full baths were not an everyday thing, and washing clothes by hand was a real chore. People didn't bathe nor change clothes daily. In addition, she probably remembers the Depression very well and may be trying to "save" electricity and money as well as water.

    I probably would not pick bathing/changing clothes as a hill to die on.

    If you can persuade her to use a new needle every couple of days, that too may be the best you can do.

    The bottom line is, she's 89 years old and you aren't going to change her. You'll just frustrate yourself by trying.
  8. by   UM Review RN
    Usually elders refuse anything that costs "extra" money. So I'd offer to buy her needles if she promises to use one per injection. The sharps container is also a great idea.

    As far as the bathing goes, make it a once-a-week excuse to get together, and she'll come around.

    I've noticed that some elders fear getting cold. A lot of them still believe you can get sicker from a chill than you can from not bathing. They have less body fat and get cold faster and take longer to warm up. Their skin is drier so they need to have lotion after the bath.

    So you might offer to come over and help her get between her toes and lotion her back afterward, and offer to dry and style her hair (use a moisturizing conditioner). Tell her you need the practice for school, and she'll feel like she's helping you too.

    While she rinses, warm up her towels by putting it in the clothes dryer for a couple of minutes, and warm her lotion in the microwave for a few seconds. It might make all the difference.
  9. by   paulla29
    In their time, the elderly didn't bathe daily, but I would go with what a few others said and make sure she "washes up" every day and does the full bath 2-3 times a week. Is she confused at all? Some times at work, it's how we approach them...if we say (nicely) it's time to go take a shower now, instead of asking "are you ready to take your shower?" because many times when you "ask", they say no, but if you encourage and say let's go, they will go.

    As for her clothes, when she changes into her bedclothes, you can confiscate her dirty clothes and wash them.

    Are you there with her when she uses her needles? After seeing those pics of used needles, I would make sure she gave me the one she used. Easier said than done I'm sure!

    You're an angel for the care you're giving her....many elderly aren't that lucky to have someone that is able to do that for them.
  10. by   CapeCodMermaid
    Don't you all wear the same pair of jeans twice or three times before you wash them?
    What's wrong with the 89 year old doing the same. Is she smelly, sweaty,urine soaked? Then let her be. The needle thing is another story altogether although it's just our sensibilities. Everyone used to boil or autoclave needles and reuse them.
  11. by   sunnydaydream
    When I took care of my 90 year old grandmother we had the same problems. The bath thing was something that bothered me along with the clothing, but I had to remind myself that this is something that they are use to. I just made sure that her bottom was always clean and about every three days I was able to get her to let me give her a bath. With the cloths she eventually gave into me because I just grabbed new cloths, evil I know, but it worked. She also *loved* to reuse insuline needles, but eventually it came to a point that I had to draw up her insulin and I'd do it for two days at a time so when she wasn't looking I'd just switch out the needles. When she was still doing it about every week I just put new insulin syringes in her bag that she used.
  12. by   NurseHotFlash
    Thanks for all the great suggestions! I am going to impliment them. You guys are great! I gave up on daily baths and clothes changing months ago. Now it is now a challenge to get either one done once a week without a confrontation. (She sleeps in her clothes.) The suggestions about making the bath more pleasant will probably work, and I loved the one about getting the container for the used needles. I admire you folks very much for the work you do. I can assure you I am not cut out for geriatrics. :spin:
  13. by   marjoriemac
    If she doesnt want to bath, you could suggest it as a treat (a la beauty therapy!) or just encourage a full wash down and take her to the hairdressers for regular hair care (also try dry shampoo). As for reusing needles, bring loads in and tell her you got them free so might as well use them, covertly change them yourself everytime you see them. It's hard, my gran refused to have a bath but then when she went into care she all of a sudden loves them, go figure!
  14. by   Dixiecup
    My grandma would always use just two little squares of toilet paper. I never could figure out how she managed that!