How Often Should an Elderly Person Bathe?

elderly person bathing

Due to old age and declining health, most seniors may find it difficult to bathe regularly. This can result in them experiencing excessive itching and raise strong body odor!

So, how often should an elderly person bathe?

Contrary to popular belief, older people don’t need to bathe daily! A senior should bathe at least two times a week to avoid developing skin conditions or infections.

What You'll Learn...

Daily Baths Are Not Necessary

It’s nice to take a full bath every day, but it’s not a necessity. Older adults are permitted to bathe two times a week as a preventative measure to keep their skin from deteriorating and reduce the risk of skin infections.

Due to their reduced physical activity, senior citizens can keep good hygiene by taking fewer baths than younger adults. However, you don’t want your loved one to stink. Therefore, it’s essential to keep their bathing routine in check!

Reasons Seniors Should Not Shower Daily

There are a number of reasons seniors shouldn’t shower daily, such as:

Dry Skin

There appears to be an unofficial consensus among dermatologists that bathing strips the skin of its natural moisture. Skin typically becomes drier and more susceptible to injury as we age. Taking fewer showers may help alleviate this issue.

Skin Infections

Cracking of the skin can be caused by dry skin infections. It can lead to severe infections, diseases, and even sepsis, which, if left untreated, can even be life-threatening.

The immune systems of older citizens, in particular, are weaker, so keeping infections from spreading on the skin is critical.


The shower/bathtub can be one of the most dangerous areas for older adults as they are exposed to the risk of accidental falls and fall injuries. Daily bathing can increase the chances of seniors falling and being injured.

Common Reasons Why an Elder Person May Not Want to Bathe

Elders don’t usually enjoy showering, and that is why the answer to how often should an elderly person bathe is once or twice a week.

But here are some of the reasons why an older adult may not want to bathe:


Boredom can set in if you don’t have new things to do once you retire. As a result, they may become disoriented and fail to notice how long it has been since they last took a bath.

Isolation and Less Social Interactions

An older adult may neglect their hygiene and appearance if they are isolated.

Too Busy

To keep up with all of their responsibilities and health issues, your loved one may fail to do some of the things they should be doing. Personal hygiene may fall under this category.


Your loved ones may not be showering or bathing as frequently as they used to because of exhaustion.

Deadening Senses

Elders may not detect the stench of odor since they might not be able to smell them at all. When it comes to smell, they’re particularly “nose blind.”


For many older adults, going to the bathroom is a terrifying experience. After all, it’s made up entirely of slick, hard, and often dull surfaces, making it the ideal place to fall and break bones.

Taking a shower or a bath might have been a part of their daily routine that they never gave a second thought to, like getting into bed. However, weakness is part and parcel of old age. Getting in the tub could result in a bruised pride, a broken hip, or a permanent loss of mobility.


Another common culprit is distress. Seniors are more susceptible to the effects of cold weather. They may become exhausted quickly and lose their sense of balance and mobility.

Moreover, there is a loss of dignity when someone else has to assist them in taking a shower. Changing clothes can also be a real pain if they suffer from joint pain and low energy levels.

How to Help Elderly Patients Shower

  1. Prepare the shower by putting all the necessities within easy reach.
  2. Your hand can be used to measure the water temperature. Make sure it is just right; not too hot, not too cold.
  3. Make sure the senior has everything they need before you begin the shower. Allow them to use the shower bar as a safety precaution.
  4. When possible, allow the elderly to bathe by themselves unless they cannot. A washcloth or sponge should be given to them to clean themselves with ease.
  5. Start with the most germ-free area, such as their face, before moving to the shoulders, upper body, backside, feet, and legs. Last but not least, clean their private areas.
  6. If they cannot shampoo their hair because their arms don’t go high enough, offer to wash their hair for them!
  7. After they’ve finished showering, offer to apply moisturizer to their skin. Moisturizing after bathing helps prevent dryness, particularly in older adults.

Wrapping it Up

It can be challenging to bathe the elderly. Depending on their mental state, cooperation level, and rashes or sores, the process can become quite tedious. 

Because bathing is a private and intimate activity, the older adult may feel embarrassed. Make sure you speak in a calm and positive tone. Reassure the seniors and encourage them to take a bath at all times.

Bring in some reinforcements if you’re having trouble getting them to agree to take a bath. People in their golden years tend to listen more attentively to the advice of someone they trust to take care of them.

To summarize, there isn’t a set recommendation for how often should an elderly person bathe, but to keep them neat and healthy, it’s advised to make them bathe once or twice a week.

Bonus tip: You can also offer to give them a warm sponge bath on the days they don’t want to bathe!