top of page
  • Writer's pictureadaptiveclothingau

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Help an Elderly Person in Showering

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

a variety of petal back clothing garments

Helping an elderly person while showering is a critical task that many caregivers face. Showering regularly and correctly ensures their hygiene and promotes their health and well-being.

It can initially feel awkward and overwhelming if you're unfamiliar with the process but this guide will walk you through how to assist an elderly person in showering.

Setting Up Showering Supplies Within Reach

Before starting, it's essential to have all the necessary supplies within easy reach to avoid any discomfort or safety risks. Some items to consider include:

  • Detachable hand-held showerhead

  • Tear-free shampoo and liquid soap

  • Shower dispensers

  • Grab bars and shower chair or bench

  • Non-slip mats and stickies

  • Sponge or brush for washing

  • Body lotion

  • Terrycloth robe or cover-up

  • Towels

Additional items for enhanced comfort and safety might include a heat lamp (if your loved one gets cold), a shower water filter, and an anti-scald valve to prevent water temperature from getting too hot.

Preparing The Shower

After gathering all your supplies, bring them into the bathroom. Assist the senior in changing out of their regular clothes into a comfortable robe or cover-up.

Checking The Water Temperature

Before the senior steps into the shower, it's crucial to test the water temperature. Ideally, it should be warm and comfortable to prevent discomfort or burns.

Use your hand to check the water temperature, balancing the hot and cold water as necessary.

elderly person's hand

Guiding The Senior Into The Shower

With everything in place, assist the senior into the shower while they hold the grab bar. Take slow, measured steps to avoid slips or falls.

Once inside, help them to sit on the shower chair or bench. If they wish, they can drape a towel around themselves or use a hairdresser's cape for privacy during the process.

Assisting with the Washing Process

Some seniors may be able to wash certain parts of their body independently. Allow them this autonomy, and step in only when necessary.

Start with the cleanest areas like the face and arms, moving towards the torso, back, legs, and ending with the feet.

Let the senior clean their private areas themselves unless they're unable to do so. During this time, keep an eye out for any skin rashes or sores.


image of body wash

Choosing the Right Body Wash for Seniors

Another crucial aspect to consider while assisting an elderly person in showering is the choice of body wash.

As we age, our skin becomes more delicate, susceptible to dryness, and prone to irritation. Therefore, selecting a gentle, nourishing body wash is of paramount importance to maintain skin health and comfort.

Here are a few tips on how to choose the right body wash:

Opt for Hypoallergenic and Non-Irritating Formulas

Choose body washes that are hypoallergenic, meaning they are less likely to cause allergic reactions. Look for products specifically labelled as "for sensitive skin" or "dermatologist-tested". These terms indicate that the product has been specially formulated to minimise potential skin irritation.

Moisturising Ingredients are Essential

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

Look for pH-Balanced Products

Consider Soothing Ingredients


Identifying Potential Health Concerns While Showering

While assisting an elderly person with their showering routine, it's crucial to stay alert to any changes in their health condition. In many cases, these changes are first noticeable on the skin. Therefore, keep an eye out for the following signs:

🟥 Skin Discoloration: Pay attention to any changes in the color of the skin. Paleness, redness, or a blue tint can indicate potential circulatory problems. Yellowing of the skin may suggest liver problems.

🟥 Moles and Spots: Look out for new moles or changes in the size, color, or shape of existing moles. These changes could be early signs of skin cancer and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

🟥 Swelling: Any noticeable swelling, particularly in the legs and feet, could be a sign of poor circulation or heart issues. If the swelling is accompanied by pain or tenderness, it may be a sign of a more severe condition, such as deep vein thrombosis.

🟥 Dry or Cracked Skin: Elderly people often suffer from dry skin, but if the condition worsens or leads to cracking, this could leave the skin vulnerable to infections.

🟥 Unexplained Bruises or Wounds: Any bruises or wounds that the elderly individual cannot explain should be taken seriously. They may indicate falls or injuries that they may not want to, or can't, share.

🟥 Rashes or Allergic Reactions: Rashes or other signs of skin irritation can indicate an allergic reaction to a new product, or may be symptomatic of an underlying disease.

Remember, it's important not to diagnose these conditions yourself. If you notice any of these signs, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation. Regularly checking for these signs while assisting in the shower can help catch potential health problems early and ensure timely treatment.

Helping with Hair Washing

Depending on the senior's capabilities, you might need to help with shampooing and conditioning their hair. Using a no-tears shampoo can prevent any discomfort if it accidentally gets in their eyes.

Rinse, Exit the Shower Safely, and Dry

At the end of the shower, use a detachable showerhead to rinse off thoroughly.

Make sure the senior has a non-slip mat to step onto after the shower.

Wrap them in a soft terrycloth robe, reaching under it to remove the towel or cape they used for privacy. If necessary, help them towel-dry gently, taking care not to irritate sensitive or injured skin. If their skin tends to dry out, assist them in applying lotion after the shower.

Ensuring the safe installation and use of grab bars and shower chairs is vital in the process.

Grab bars should ideally be placed near the faucet handles, on the side wall, and at the shower's entrance to prevent senior falls.

Shower chairs should be stable and equipped with slip-resistant feet, a backrest, padded arms, and adjustable legs.

Assisting an elderly person in showering can be a relatively simple and safe process with the right preparations and approach. By respecting their privacy and offering positive reinforcement throughout, you can make the experience more comfortable and less daunting for both of you.


Affiliate links

Adaptive Clothing Australia has established affiliate partnerships with reputable healthcare product providers. When you make a purchase through our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. These commissions help support our mission to provide valuable information and resources to our readers. We appreciate your support and trust in our recommendations.

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter to receive our healthy living tips for seniors and caregivers. Fall prevention, self-care, mobility, and independence.

The Adaptive Clothing Australia Team

A group of people from different walks of life


Subscribe to receive learning, doing and living tips for seniors.  

Thanks for subscribing!

ACA Facebook Footer  (3).png
bottom of page