Last week, when my daughter and granddaughters were visiting, Linda, The Bath Lady, arrived at her appointed time on Wednesday evening, and Mom refused her shower. Mom has never refused bathing since we started having bath ladies come in. She has attempted to refuse at times, but I’ve always been able to convince her of their importance and necessity. Not this time.
So, mustering my best negotiating skills, I had a mini-meltdown panic tantrum, yelling and threatening, and eventually turning off the TV and putting away the remote in an effort to compel her compliance. She wasn’t having it. Linda’s lower-key attempts were useless once I had set the stage for a show-down, and Linda ended up finishing out her hour by doing ad-hoc therapy with me as I catastrophized about how Mother might never shower again and how if she refuses to shower, maybe she’ll refuse to go to the day center, and if she refuses to go to the day center, how will I go to work? It wasn’t pretty.
After Linda left, my daughter suggested that perhaps Mom didn’t want to “be showered” with all the extra people in the house. I rejected that idea because I don’t think Mom has any real modesty left. My daughter stepped in for more ad-hoc therapy off and on all evening.
The next day, I called Christina, Mom’s Social Worker at the day center, and left a somewhat coherent message, as I was a little calmer by then. She called back and assured me that bath refusal was not an uncommon part of the dementia disease progression, and that if Mom refused more than a couple of times running, then the team would make a treatment plan for her to have her baths when she was at the day center. I was very relieved by this conversation.
When Mom got home that afternoon, I asked her if she promised to have her shower with Linda on schedule on Saturday. She assured me she would. I gave her back the remote. One more crisis averted.