When showers become scary

There are so many things we take for granted when we are younger, and in good physical and mental health. For example, today Mom needed to get a shower.

Mom was kind of dreading it, though she has always been a clean freak. But now, due to illness and overall frailty, she can’t enjoy her bubble baths anymore. She has to sit on a shower bench to take a bath.

Today was her first shower without the home health aide. Mom is not happy about the change in her routine, which of course is understandable but still frustrating to me, as I have spent countless hours researching shower benches, bars, etc. to try to make getting a bath as safe as possible. Of course, to Mom, it’s starting to feel like the nursing home a bit, with all of the safety aids around. But today, Mom’s physical therapist told us how her mother, who suffered from dementia, “forgot” she needed her walker, took three steps, fell down and broke her hip and died three days later. So Mom knows what is at stake.

She’s also fallen in the bathtub before and possibly cracked some ribs, so she knows how dangerous getting a simple bath can be.

Mom did fine and I think she will be okay if she needs to bathe alone. Of course, watching my Mom’s frail body under the shower spray, I couldn’t help but think of Dad. In the last hour of his life, he was also getting a shower, with the help of aides at the skilled nursing facility. His body gave out, and he crumpled while in the shower. He was brought back to his bed, and CPR was performed, but he was gone.

Of course, I wasn’t there with Dad, so I’m left to imagine how that scene played out, and how aware he was of what was going on. I will never know, but those last minutes of Dad’s life still haunt me.

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