Tuesday, 11 January 2011

It's your bath time...

Cheated Okaasan yesterday.
Used this dementia to get her to have a bath...and it worked!

Okaasan CAN have a bath by herself. But hardly ever does. Once a week...on Mondays...just before she goes to hula dance.

But she hasn't been to hula dance now for...what...a month? Pretty smelly. I think she had a bath about 10 days ago. maybe.

She's physically capable of having a bath, but the planning and will to actually decide to do it and run the water, go back 10 minutes later and HAVE the bath seem to be missing.

In Japan, traditionally, the bath is run in the evening and everyone takes their turn (from head of household down to the women and kids) in washing the body out of the bath and then enjoying a  soak in the tub itself.
In our home Yujiro and I shower every day and have a few baths a week at different times. Okaasan gets by with a face wash every morning. And the once a week pre-hula bath.

So. Yesterday.
7 am in the kitchen Okaasan said she didn't feel like going to hula class. Yet again. It seems as if she can't be bothered with all of that it now, even though the roads are ok and the weather was good.

So. Around 10 am I was snow clearing outside and had my Brilliant Idea: why not trick her into having a bath?

I slipped back inside and started the bath running. Put on the bathroom heater, put the hairdryer out etc.

10 minutes later I casually walked into the kitchen and poked my head into Okaasan's room:

"Okaasan, the bath is ready...the water looks ok!"

"Bath? What bath? My bath? Did I run a bath?"

"Well, I was out clearing snow. And the cats don't take baths...so I guess it must be yours!"

"Really? I'm getting forgetful, I was watching TV and forgot."


She had the bath. Took 40 minutes, obviously enjoyed it. And then...and then...she even took charge of her own lunch too. I'd put out the soup and the rice...while I was upstairs thawing out she put the rice into the soup pan, added an egg - and made her own lunch.


Deceptive and using dementia a bit...but successful. I think I read somewhere that gentle suggestion works well with dementia sufferers. They aren't going to do something that is totally out of their usual routine - but if the situation seems likely and some visual clues are there - then they will probably follow the suggestion.

Okaasan is used to having a bath on Monday mornings. Using the hair dryer. So it all seemed familiar enough. I don't think she would do the same if I tried the trick in the evening..because she never has a bath in the evenings.

Anyway. Success.

I set out for my own afternoon out: I went to the hot bran bath salon that I used to go to. Before I had a grossing out ovary. I used to go here last spring and I had to drive there because my knee was too weak to walk.
But yesterday, I could walk to the subway, walk to the salon, walk around town, walk home from the subway too. And enjoy....................life is getting better. Immersed up to your chin in hot bran is SO good.....and then an hour or two curled in the lounge chair with the newspapers.

I came home at 4.30 pm when the temperature was dropping off the scale and it was just getting dark.

Okaasan was predictably just thinking about going for a walk.
"I was busy this afternoon, I forgot the time!"
Busy? Yes...well....

She went out at 5 pm and came home at 7.30 pm just in time to get some dinner table time with me...actually her chat was good: all about how her mean boss didn't give the 20 year olds in the company time off to go to the nationwide Adult Day ceremonies (which was yesterday).

Okaasan worked as a book keeper in a rubber company post-war. That's where she met her husband. The boss was from Kyushu and he employed a Mr. Nakajima from Kyushu...but he was a recent university graduate with no practical experience...so Okaasan had to show him the ropes as the company accountant.
And then they got married. And had two sons. And the younger son had a foreign girlfriend....

It was fresh conversation for Okaasan. Which in itself is a rarity. She usually churns out the same stories, so a different story - even with repeats within it - was refreshing.

Bath time success.



  1. congratulations - sounds like a good and very successful plan!! Does she know who you are? Are you a foreigner to her? Or are you just the woman who lives in the same house and talks to her at dinner time?

    Nice that you got a new story out of her - and an interesting one at that :)

  2. Deception is totally OK if it's for a good reason. The bran salon sounds wonderful. I'm not sure we have them in Shikoku.

  3. Hear me clapping from all the way down here???!!! *applause*