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How often should the elderly shower or bathe?

A personal care routine allows us to maintain good hygiene and a tidy appearance. Regular bathing helps keep our skin, hair and mouth clean and healthy, and as a result, contributes towards the positive mental health we need to enjoy every aspect life has to offer. But some older adults face unique challenges that make it difficult for them to maintain personal care routines.

For over 75 years, Prestige Nursing & Care has provided bespoke and individually-tailored home care that supports people in living safely and independently at home. Our carers are expertly trained to provide discreet assistance with personal care routines such as washing, bathing, dressing or toileting in a way that is compassionate, respectful and sensitive.

Here we discuss how often the elderly should bathe and provide tips and advice on how you can support your loved one with their personal care routines without compromising their dignity and privacy.


Bathing every day isn’t essential for good health and can actually strip the skin of natural oils and lead to dry skin. For many older adults, bathing once or twice a week should be enough to avoid skin breakdown and infections while helping them to feel comfortable and confident. 

As part of the natural ageing process, our scalps naturally produce less sebum (oil). Because of this, older adults may not need to wash their hair more than once a week. Dry shampoo can be an effective way of keeping hair clean between washes. 

Of course, it’s important to consider your loved one’s individual circumstances when creating a bathing schedule. Some older adults have medical conditions such as incontinence that may make it necessary to bathe more frequently. 


Some of the reasons why a person may not want to bathe or shower include: 

  • Fear of bathroom accidents: For individuals with frailty or mobility concerns, bathing can seem like a daunting task. Slips and falls are common in the bathroom, especially for people that are unsteady on their feet. This can lead to a fear of bathing, showering or using the bathroom. 
  • Fatigue or mobility challenges: Problems with mobility or fatigue can prevent someone from physically performing their usual personal care routines. 
  • Mental health challenges: Depression, anxiety or low mood can affect a person’s motivation and make it difficult for them to complete daily hygiene requirements. 
  • Dementia and memory loss: People living with dementia or memory loss may have difficulties remembering to keep up with their personal hygiene. On top of forgetfulness, other symptoms of dementia such as anxiety and confusion can make it difficult to concentrate or perform many daily living tasks. 
  • Loss of independence: Some older adults fear that being unable to perform their usual personal care routines means that they are losing their independence or their ability to live unassisted at home. This fear might make it difficult for someone to ask for help. 
  • A change in the senses: As people age, they often experience a change in their senses including a loss of their sense of smell. This means they may find it difficult to notice when it is time to shower or bathe.  


If you or an older loved one are finding it difficult to keep up with your personal care routines, here are some tips that can help:

Establish a Routine 

Creating a daily hygiene routine can help your loved one get used to doing specific activities at certain times of the day. For instance, you might suggest brushing their teeth after breakfast or changing into their bedclothes at the same time each evening. 

The best way to establish a routine is to not make it seem like a chore or something which must be rushed. Try and use welcome distractions to make the process more fun such as playing their favourite music. It can also be helpful to create a welcoming and comfortable environment by keeping the room and towels warm and laying out their clothing so they can slip into something comfortable right away. 

Establishing a routine can be especially helpful for people living with dementia. Under these circumstances, it may be beneficial to establish a daily bathing routine. When bathing becomes a part of someone’s daily routine, they may be less likely to resist. 

Respect the Individual’s Privacy and Autonomy 

It’s important to always respect your loved one’s wishes regarding how much they want you to be involved with the bathing process. Receiving assistance with personal care can be stressful and emotionally challenging for many people. To help your loved one feel safe and comfortable, always exercise patience, compassion and dignity throughout the entire process. 

If the person needs help with bathing, try covering them with a bathrobe and only uncover one area of the body at a time. Always ask for consent first and talk them through whatever task you are performing. You may also want to try dimming the lights to help them feel a little less exposed. Small gestures like this can help a person feel more comfortable and save them from embarrassment. 

Remember that compromise is often key when it comes to encouraging your loved ones to make changes to their lifestyle. Although you may have your own preferences when it comes to your loved one’s personal care routines, you should always be willing to compromise and respect their wishes. 

Consider Alternatives 

While cleanliness is important, there are alternatives to showering and bathing that may feel less intrusive to your loved ones. If your loved one is unable to bathe due to mobility concerns or other reasons, a sponge or bed bath can help them feel fresh and clean in between their showers or baths. 

All you need is a soft sponge and a basin of warm water. If they prefer, your loved one can use the sponge to clean themselves while you assist them with any hard-to-reach areas. This allows the person to feel confident and independent while still receiving the assistance they need to feel their best. 

Use the Correct Bathing Equipment and Products 

A fear of falling in the bathroom is often enough to prevent someone from wanting to bathe, shower or use the bathroom altogether. Installing the right bathroom safety equipment can make your loved one feel safe and reassured as they carry out their personal care routines. 

Installing handrails in the shower or near the toilet, a raised toilet seat or providing a shower chair are all ways that you can help your loved one navigate their bathroom safely and confidently. 

If you’re looking for further advice, we have a useful guide on the top 8 bathing aids to make everyday life easier.  

Provide a Reason to Get Dressed Up 

One way to encourage your loved ones to bathe or shower is to provide them with a reason to get dressed up. Planning an enjoyable activity such as going out to lunch together, enjoying a walk in the park or planning a social visit with their friends can provide positive motivation for someone to get ready for the day. 

Use their GP as a Resource 

It may be that an underlying health or medical condition is affecting your loved one’s ability to look after their personal care. Medical professionals can help rule out underlying causes such as depression or memory loss and can recommend treatment options and the next steps. Many people also give more weight to a doctor’s professional advice rather than suggestions from family or friends. 

Consider Professional Help 

Personal care routines are often private and sensitive subjects for many people. Your loved one may prefer the help of an outside professional rather than having to ask family members for help. 

Our competent and compassionate carers can provide sensitive personal care to your loved one that never compromises their independence or dignity. They support your loved one with any of their personal care routines including: 

  • Washing, bathing and private hygiene 
  • Dressing and getting ready for bed 
  • Toileting and incontinence care 
  • Applying lotions and creams
  • Oral hygiene 
  • Applying makeup and hair care 
  • Feet care
  • Mobility assistance 


Supporting your loved ones with their personal care routines is an act of love, but it can be challenging if you’re doing it alone. If your loved one is finding it difficult to maintain their personal hygiene, our expertly trained carers can help. 

Contact our friendly team to arrange for a no-obligation home assessment. We will meet with you and your family to discuss your loved one’s care needs and how we can provide a care plan that enhances their independence and improves their quality of life. 

Simply complete our online form or call us on: 0808 239 1525. One of our expert care advisors will provide you with all the information and guidance you need.

We are here to take your call and will provide impartial support and guidance – contact our friendly care experts today to discuss your care needs.

0808 239 1525


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