Bathing Mom

New Orleans, LA(Zone 9a)

My Mom is 85 years old & her health is declining. She has congestive heart failure which is mostly under control, but it has left her weak & she gets short of breath easily. She still lives alone, but I usually go over there almost every day & do all her shopping, cleaning & most of her cooking. This past Christmas, my brother Rickey was in town & stayed with her for about a week. He told me later that during the week he was there, Mom did not take a bath at all. When I told her what Rickey said and her response was that she just "washed off" without actually getting in the tub.

Well, last week she & I had to go to City Hall & we waited in line a long time. She was in her wheelchair & I mostly was standing behind her, pushing the wheelchair. Honestly, I could smell her body odor. So I spent the weekend getting her a hand-held shower head, a shower chair, tub mat, and tub rails. I had a long talk with her this morning, telling her that she has body odor and that "washing off" isn't good enough. My DH & I were there to set up her bathtub so that she can take a shower. Plus, we had to remove the shower doors & put up a shower curtain. Her response was that she hates showers & that she can get in & out of the tub OK. So I said OK, she can take a bath while I was there to make sure she was safe. She thought that wasn't necessary, but I insisted.

While I was sitting right outside the bathroom with the door open, she got into the tub & washed herself just fine. Then it came time to get out the tub. She just couldn't do it. Mom just didn't have the strength to stand up from sitting in the bathtub. After several minutes of discussion and her trying different things, I had to stand in the tub behind her, lock my arms under her armpits, and lift her to her feet. Luckily she only weights about 125 & I could lift her up. And she could dry herself off just fine & get dressed. She finally had to admit that she cannot take tub baths anymore & she will have to use the shower and chair. So we had another discussion about she can only use the shower when I am there.

After I left her, I became so scared. Suppose she would have tried to bathe when no one as there. She could have sat in that bathtub for 12 or more hours until I came back the next day. I'll have to insist that she does not get in the shower without my there. She'll probably go along with that. But now tonight, my back is killing me. I'm 59 and am in OK health, but I don't go around lifting 125 pounds every day.

I guess I just needed to right this down & express my feelings. I sure all of this will work out OK. Mom may be stubborn, but she is a realist. I think she'll go along with me about only showering when I'm there to help her in & out, but who knows. Thanks for listening.

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