6 Reasons Why Elderly STOP Bathing to better understand!

Many things change with age, so it’s not uncommon for elderly people to change their hygiene habits. When these changes are for the worse, there is always a way to find a solution. If you’ve been looking for an answer to the question ‘why do the elderly stop bathing?’, you should take a look at this list of reasons to better understand what might be happening to your older friends or relatives.


Depression is one of the most common reasons why some individuals stop showering or bathing. Feelings of isolation, loneliness, and sadness can overcome a person and make them feel like personal hygiene is the last thing that they should do. They simply think that taking care of themselves is unnecessary and may want to just lay down.

When an elderly person feels left out of the community, feels alone, suffers a loss, or feels like they’ve lost the sense of their life, they will show signs of depression. This person will find it very hard to complete everyday activities, stop bathing regularly, feel demotivated even about the smallest things, show signs of low self-esteem, and sometimes even stay in bed all day long. There will be changes in their behavior that you’ll notice. Depressed people might not care about their appearance and stop doing things such as makeup, wearing clean and ironed clothes, and hang out with other people.

If you noticed that your elderly relative stopped bathing, depression is something that you should keep in mind. Make sure that you consult a professional to get a diagnosis so that you can get a recommended course of treatment. Certain warning signs can point out depression, and it’s best that you schedule an appointment with a doctor before you draw any conclusions. Also, each case is different, meaning that there are various ways to treat this condition. The depressed person might not even recognize that they’re struggling with this disease and oppose treatment. You should be persistent and offer help right away.

Respect & Control

Loss of respect and control are the two things that elderly individuals can struggle with as they age. The feeling that they’ve lost control over their life or that they’re losing respect when they ask for help is very common. Some people are very proud and want to do everything themselves, even when it’s apparent that they need help. They don’t want to bother their younger relatives and can feel like a burden.

Taking care of themselves is sometimes the only thing that makes them feel like they still have control over their lives. When asking for help, they can feel like they’re losing hope, and they will be utterly dependent on another person.

You need to carefully assess this situation, without being too obvious. Start by letting them know that you’re always there for them, and they should ask for your help. You can also install various aiding mechanisms in their bathroom that will help them take a shower. Just be careful not to make them feel like they’re completely helpless, and they’re losing control.

Dulling Senses

As people get older, their senses can change and become dull. This is another reason why an elderly person can stop bathing and showering as frequently as before. It doesn’t mean that they forgot they should bathe or that they don’t want to. They simply can’t notice that their smell has changed because of the dulling senses. It’s something that comes with age, and it’s completely normal.

Another reason why the elderly stop bathing as frequently is because they feel cold. The reduced circulation that comes with age can make them feel cold most of the time, so showering is something that they’ll avoid.

Thankfully, there is always a way to help. You need to be careful not to offend them, but give them a hint that they need to pay a little more attention when it comes to personal hygiene.

You might also want to consider helping them as often as you can or hiring a person who will be there for them and help them through everyday activities and personal hygiene. Also, be gentle with your words, and try to explain the situation in a way that won’t offend them.

If the elderly can’t get to a store and they need personal hygiene products [1], be the one who does their shopping. There is no shame in asking for help, but sometimes they just feel too proud to let you know. If they are dealing with certain health issues, make sure that these products are approved by their doctors.


Many adults that retire find themselves with extra free time that they don’t know how to use. That’s when boredom strikes. A lot of elderly people spend their days bored, without any activities. As the boredom gets more profound, they lose track of time and forget that they should shower. Most of their days are the same, and they easily forget whether it’s Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday.

Also, if no one visits them or keeps them company, they can’t find a good reason why they should shower. This is a simple problem that requires a timely solution. You should help your elderly relatives and friends find things that entertain them and keep them busy. Also, getting them a calendar where they can track the days and add events, including showering, can be very helpful.

Fear & Discomfort

Fear is a sensation that appears among older people when they feel they’re physically weak and can’t do their everyday activities with the same intensity as they did before. They can be afraid to bathe because they might think they can get hurt. In their mind, they are not physically strong enough to go to the bathroom and take a shower without anyone’s help, so they simply avoid it.

Some people think they will fall and hurt themselves; others know that they can’t stand in the shower long enough so that they can wash, or they don’t feel comfortable enough in front of their caregiver. There are many reasons why they can become fearful and not comfortable enough to bathe. You should talk to them, recognize the symptoms and help them feel more comfortable.

Showering should be a pleasant experience for them, and they should get help from a person that they trust. This is a process that can take some time, but in the end, it’s essential that they feel comfortable asking for help when they need it. Also, make sure that you get the right accessories they need for the bathroom and the shower.

Sometimes seniors, particularly those with dementia, may be afraid of taking a shower. They might have a fear of falling, or perhaps they don’t trust the caregiver who is assisting. Create a warm, calm, and relaxing atmosphere in the bathroom to make it a more pleasant experience for the person. Easy access to entering the shower can also make the experience as safe and enjoyable as possible. A walk-in bathtub or shower, sturdy shower, and bath seats, transfer bench, a hand-held shower head, grab bars on the wall, and non-slip surfaces on the floor of the shower, are all effective ways to make the showering experience safer and easier for an elderly person.

Cognitive Impairment

Cognitive impairment may come with age. It’s an unfortunate thing, but it’s tied to many other consequences. One of those is forgetting to take a bath because of dementia. Elderly people who have dementia may have difficulty remembering to shower, they may forget when they showered before, and, mistakenly, think that they showered recently.

Dementia [2] is also connected to fear. Elderly people with dementia can be fearful of bathing. They might think that they will fall, especially if they don’t have a caregiver by their side. The solution to this problem is to create an environment where they’ll feel much safer and always offer support.

Diseases such as Alzheimer’s[3] can make the lives of patients very hard. They are not always aware of their surroundings, how old they are, or who are the people around them. This is a disease that causes cognitive impairment and they can easily forget about personal hygiene.


Why do the elderly stop bathing? There isn’t a straightforward answer to this question. However, there is a list of reasons that you should have in mind, including them feeling depressed, loss of control, fear, discomfort, feeling bored, dulled senses, and loss of respect. These are all situations that should be recognized and cared for with the help of professionals.


  1. https://dailycaring.com/senior-bathing-whats-really-necessary/
  2. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/alzheimers-disease-bathing-139323.htm
  3. https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/daily-care/bathing
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