Why Seniors Resist Washing Their Hair

Being a family caregiver can be frustrating when the elderly relative is resistant to help. Even though they can no longer do many of the daily living tasks they once did, many seniors still battle with family members when it is time to bathe or wash their hair. Family caregivers and senior care assistants can make the task a little easier when they understand why the elderly adult may be so stubborn when it comes to keeping their hair clean and fresh.

Senior Care in Skokie IL: Why Seniors Resist Washing Their Hair

Senior Care in Skokie IL: Why Seniors Resist Washing Their Hair

Here are some common reasons why elderly adults may resist washing their hair:

  • Losing Independence. Many family caregivers just step in and do everything for the elderly person, from choosing the water temperature to pouring out the shampoo. Instead, seniors should be allowed to do as much as they can on their own, with the family caregiver or senior care assistant stepping in to do the things they cannot. It helps them feel more independent and in control of their day.
  • Too Fatigued. Everyone gets grumpy and irritable when they are tired, even elderly adults. If the chosen bath time corresponds with when they are the most tired, it could cause battles. Instead, family members and senior care aides should pick a time where the aging adult is well rested and the least combative.
  • Fear of Falling. Slip and fall accidents are frightening to many elderly adults and they may refuse bathing and hair washing because of this. Family caregivers can do a lot to ensure the bathroom area is as safe as possible. They can install grab bars and use sturdy shower or bath chairs. Non-slip rugs can help ease fears as well.
  • Uncomfortable Temperatures. Many seniors have a hard time regulating their body temperature and they feel the cold very keenly. The idea of being wet and cold can turn many seniors off from wanting regular baths. Senior care aides and family members can use a space heater or turn up the heat during this time to make them more comfortable. It’s also a good idea for the family member to have everything ready and set out, like shampoo, towels, and clothes. Then there is no delay or wasted time searching for things.
  • Embarrassment. Getting undressed and being bathed by someone else can be deeply embarrassing for seniors. Family caregivers can do their best to make them feel comfortable by leaving them in a robe or covered with a towel for as long as possible. Family members and senior care aides should go about the task as professionally and as efficiently as possible to minimize discomfort.


Elderly adults need to keep their body and hair as clean as possible. However, when they need help from someone, it could mean problems in getting the task done. Family caregivers can implement some good advice for strategies to lower the tension and reduce the resistance. Then, their elderly relatives can enjoy good health and improved self-esteem.

If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Skokie, IL, contact the caring staff at Companion Services of America today at (847) 943-3786. Our home care service area includes Northbrook, Highland Park, Deerfield, Glenview, Buffalo Grove, Evanston, Des Plaines, Skokie, Lake Forest, Wilmette and the surrounding areas.



Jamie Shapiro

Jamie Shapiro, founder of Companion Services of America, LLC received a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Chicago. Jamie started her career in psychiatric social work at Northwestern University Institute of Psychiatry. Later, she went on to become the Director of Social Services at Belmont Community Hospital where she developed discharge planning procedures to assist staff in identifying potential patients requiring intervention.

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