How Often Should Seniors Bathe?
Here’s the truth: The question posed by the title of this week’s blog can be a tough one to answer because it all depends on the senior. Contrary to popular belief, bathing isn’t totally necessary every day. However, it does depend on what one does in a day that will determine whether or not bathing is a requirement on that particular day.
For Many Seniors, Bathing Is a Gruelling Chore
Especially for those with mobility issues, the very acts of disrobing, getting into the bathtub, turning on the water and going through the motions of showering take far too much time and energy. As a result, many seniors choose not to bathe daily. Some even go so far as to not bathe more than once a week.
Of course, a happy medium must be met. Going back to the “what one does in a day” perspective, it’s important to note that some parts of the body perspire, and therefore emit odors more than others. On Caring.com, Jennifer Serafin, who is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco, explains more about those parts of the body.
“The reason people need to bathe mostly has to do with odor, and preventing it,” she writes, “The underarms (axilla) and groin (peri) areas of the body contain apocrine glands, which secrete thicker sweat than other sweat glands. This increased sweat mixes with bacteria on the skin surface, causing a strong odor, which some people find offensive.”
Some Body Parts Require More Attention Than Others
Serafin goes on to recommend regular cleansing of particular body parts in lieu of full showers if the elderly individual in question finds it difficult to bathe in the traditional way. She highly suggests daily cleansings of the face, peri area (groin), under the breasts, under skin folds, and the armpits.
For those who are concerned about their elderly loved ones not bathing every day, Serafin assures that it isn’t even necessary. In fact, she points out that frequent bathing can dry out the skin, making it itchy and irritable. On ScienceAlert.com, Hilary Brueck confirms this by citing David Leffell, who is the author of Total Skin: The Definitive Guide to Whole Skin Care For Life.
Leffell explains that when a “bather steps out of the shower and dries off with a towel, additional moisture left on the surface of their skin gets lost in evaporation. In other words, top layers of moisture are being ‘pulled from your skin’ as you exit the shower…Unfortunately for those who love a piping-hot shower, the hotter the water is, the worse this moisture-sucking phenomenon gets since warm water evaporates even faster than cool.”
Shower Bay Makes Bathing Easier
At Forward Day, we respect the fact that many seniors dislike bathing because of the lack of privacy they have when a caregiver is necessary. This is one of the reasons our Shower Bay portable showers work so wonderfully for elderly individuals with mobility issues. They are able to roll their shower wheelchairs into their Shower Bay showers and close the doors behind them to enjoy showers independently.