When My Mum refuses to Bath....
When the smallest task become Herculean battles, it's tempting to let things go.
My mother currently 82 years old. As she got on in her years, we found that she used to be very particular about her hygiene and cleanliness, but gradually became more indifferent. We were worried as we knew that mom's negligence of her hygiene would cause risks of infection, but we were also worried about her self-esteem, as we noticed that she was reluctant to let caregivers bathe her.
One day, during one of my sister's visits, she refused to take a bath, to which we insisted to help our mom with. After a little bit of back and forth, she agreed to our help. When we undressed her, we were shocked to find a big black spot on her back.
Fearing a skin disease, we rubbed it few times and were relieved to find that it was dirt, accumulated in the hard-to-wash areas of her back, due to her weak hands and arms. We found out that she was embarrassed to let her daughters find out about this, and refused to shower to preserve her dignity, as she was already used to doing things by herself and living independently.
This prompted me to find any tools that would be able to help her and to ease her bathing process. After searching high and low, I found a long brush which allowed her to wash her back effortlessly. "Let her do what she can do for herself, with the proper tools, even if it's not done properly." This is part of the concept of "Ageing in place".
When searching for the right tool, I had to take in a few considerations:
1. I needed long but lightweight as easy to hold
2. Handle must be anti-slip to facilitate a secure grip for people with limited strength or reach
3. The wash cloth must not absorb water, so that the tool remains light and balanced even when wet
4. The handle must be long enough to touch the back of her body
I started to to find any factory who can help me to fabricate it. I must have spoken to at least 8 to 10 factories. The price to create a mould to create such a tool and brush would cost RM60,000-100,000 for a bulk order, which was way too costly for me. Not willing to give up, I searched for various suppliers and finally found ETAC - the brand that was able to meet my requirements.
In fact, for elderly parents, maintaining hygiene requires a lot of steps. Here are a few tips for making it bearable:-
- Daily baths are not necessary; 2-3 times a week is fine if they do not leave the house.
- Have her hair washed by professional salon once a week.
- Stick to a routine. If bathing is done after lunch, try to do it then every bath day.
- Create a safe and easy environment. Make sure the water is a comfortable temperature. Warm up the bathroom.
- Install grab bars on bathroom walls and safety handles on the bathtub if there is any.
- If she showers and has trouble standing, put a small sturdy seat in the shower stall.
- If you help her wash her hair, buy a handheld attachment for the faucet. Use a non slip bath mat or apply anti-slip flooring.
- Respect your parent's modesty as much as possible. If it makes her more comfortable, give her a towel to hold in front of herself, or stand behind the shower curtain while aiding her.
- Describe what you are doing as you do it so she knows what's coming. For example: "I'm going to put a little shampoo in your hair now."
- As she grows more frail, her skin will become thinner and more susceptible to damage. Don't scrub. Blot gently. Use gentle soaps and moisturizer. A little talcum powder between folds of skin will reduce friction. Bath time is a good time to check for rashes and sores.
The ETAC range of products are so, so practical, and would make a perfect gift for Mother's Day or Father's Day.