Senior Bathing: How Frequently is Enough?

happy senior lady ready for bath
Reducing senior bathing from daily to several times per week may be in a loved one’s best interest.


Sinking into a warm, soothing, bubble bath at the conclusion of a stress-filled day, and stepping into a hot, invigorating shower first thing in the morning are daily pleasures for many of us. However it is possible to have too much of a good thing when it comes to senior bathing habits. You might want to rethink that daily bath or shower for seniors, for a number of reasons:

  • Mobility issues
  • The risk of skin infections from dry, cracked skin
  • Fatigue
  • A greater risk of falls on slippery floors
  •  Thinner skin which can lead to easier bruising along with other injuries
  • And more

How Often Should an Older Adult Bathe?

Once or twice weekly is appropriate to maintain personal hygiene for older adults. In between, a warm washcloth can be used to clean areas that need additional attention. This is particularly essential for older adults who wear products to manage incontinence.

Special Considerations for Dementia

One exception to take into consideration is an individual with Alzheimer’s disease. Because routine is extremely important when cognitive issues are a factor, a regular shower or bath could be a source of comfort. If a person with Alzheimer’s is fearful or resists personal hygiene, however, try the following recommendations:

  • Promote independence. Empower the individual to remain in control of the bathing process whenever you can. Encourage them to participate according to their ability level, even if that means just holding onto the washcloth or shampoo bottle.
  • Talk through each step. Explain what’s going to happen in simple terms and in a soothing tone of voice before each part of the bathing process.
  • Ease fears. The loud, pounding sound of a shower or bathwater running is frightening for some older adults with Alzheimer’s. A handheld shower set at a minimal level is quieter and allows the individual to see where the water is coming from.
  • Focus on comfort. Keep the bathroom warm. Turn on music they enjoy. Have plenty of big, fluffy towels on hand. Use shampoo and soap or body wash in a relaxing, soothing scent.
  • Create a positive association. Incorporate an especially enjoyable activity at the end of the bath-time routine. For instance, provide a favorite snack that is only served after bathing so that it creates a positive connection.

Frequently, older adults feel most comfortable having help with personal hygiene needs from a professional caregiver. Golden Harmony’s care team is fully experienced and trained in providing support for safe, comfortable showers or baths. Our focus is always on affirming dignity and respect and addressing any particular concerns or fears with skill and empathy. We proudly offer our award-winning in-home care services in Raleigh, Cary, Apex and the surrounding area. Contact us online or give us a call at 919-426-7522 for more information.