Successful Solutions to Showering (Public article)

Public article

Members please log in and click this link 10 Successful Solutions to the Shower Challenge for your extended version of this article.

By Jane Verity ©

Many readers have asked for ideas on non-intrusive ways to help the person with dementia who no longer wants to have a shower. This question needs a thorough response as there are many reasons why the person may not wish to have a shower. It is important to keep in mind that there is always a strong, personal, meaningful reason behind the refusal. It is up to us to find out what lies behind the response so that we can work around the underlying issue.

In our full editorial, we suggest 10 reasons why the person might not want to have a shower. Each underlying reason is followed by suggested solutions. The most successful solutions, however, are the ones we come up with intuitively when we know the individual person. To find the best solution, we need to use our intuition and intimate knowledge about the person and combine these with our creativity. Be prepared for trial and error.

A gentle reminder: We can not change the person with dementia. We can only change the way we deal with the situation and our own responses.

Feeling the cold

The person may suffer from reduced circulation and, therefore, feel the cold more. In this case, the prospect of taking off one’s clothes and being cold can be daunting.

Solution: Install a ceiling heater and switch it on well before the person has a shower or bath. Let the hot water run to heat the shower base. Use a thick bathmat with rubber backing on the floor. Warm a bath towel so the person can be wrapt in this both when first undressed and again when stepping out of the shower. Place a towel on the bath stool or the toilet so that it is warm and soft for the person to sit on while being dried and dressed.


When a person refuses to take a bath or a shower, you have 3 choices:

1. Find out what is the real reason for the refusal and act accordingly.
2. Find out if there is a time of day when it is easier for the person to feel comfortable showering or bathing.
3. If nothing seems to work at that moment, drop it and try again at a different time.

Remember that the best solutions are the ones you come up with intuitively.

For further reading – Click topic

  • 10 Successful Solutions for the Shower Challenge – Extended Members article – Jane Verity (Nine scenarios & their possible solutions, plus learn 3 helpful hints towards successful bath & shower times.)
  • A Positive Approach to Challenging Behaviour – Public/Extended Members article – Jane Verity (Understand cause & effect; learn how to work with the need rather than against it & discover successful strategies for preventing challenging behaviour)
  • Reducing Anxiety and Agitation with Aromatherapy – Members article – E. Joy Bowles BSc. (How aromatherapy appears to be providing an alternative to the use of anti-psychotic & sedative drugs.)
  • How can Aromatherapy Help People with Dementia? –Members article – E. Joy Bowles BSc. (How the ‘sense of smell is non-verbal and can get through” to emotions when words fail’; the use of smells can help orient people with dementia to time & space; tips for choosing & using the right oils to lessen anxiety, agitation and depression.)
  • Turning Hassles into Highs – Members article – Jane Verity (Simple strategies to turn negative experiences into  highs plus two keys to how these techniques work.)
  • Ribbons turn Around Challenging Shower Experience – Community article – (How one professional care discovered successful showering through the magic of colour.)
  • Creative Thinking Solves Toilet Challenge – Community story – (A professional carer’s tip to solving the challenge of a resident going to the toilet plus a fantastic question to ask when seeking constructive solutions to challenging behaviours.)