Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

How do you encourage bathing?


This is trivial compared to many issues we face but am wondering if anyone has ideas on how to encourage bathing without starting drama.
I can do blunt…go take a shower, you stink. I am trying to figure out how to do this in a more positive way because we have had some major stresses the last several months and am trying to minimize the conflicts.
Any helpful phrases or experiences are welcomed!


I usually say something along the lines of: Do you want to take a shower tonight or tomorrow? Some noncommittal response. Then the next day I say, Hey, it’s time to take a shower.

What are your goals for frequency?


Yes, and make it a point to tell them you noticed afterward.


No answers here but I’m looking forward to reading others’ tactics because nothing I’ve tried has worked.


The only thing that ever worked for me with my son early on was if he really wanted to go somewhere with me in my car and it had been a week or more since he bathed, I would just say: I would love to take you with me but I can’t have that smell in my car, it will literally distract me from my driving, so when you bathe let me know and we can take off" (I know it sounds kind of harsh) The harshness of that never seemed to phase my son and sometimes he would say “I guess I can’t go then” but eventually more often if I waited awhile and maybe said I will be leaving tomorrow to do such and such instead of today…he would bathe by the next day. I found out if my son feels rushed at all he will always forfeit things like bathing, teeth brushing and even eating a meal, so I always try to approach things as relaxed as I can for that reason. Today he bathes every 3 days, like clockwork, he made that schedule up himself, I wish it was every other day (especially in the summer months) but it is what it is.


"to approach things as relaxed as I can"
That is one of the most significant changes I had to make in guiding my son.
I have been holding cigs till he brushes his teeth. He still doesn’t want to but I insist and hand him a loaded toothbrush and that is it. Perhaps he’ll be like this one day with his meds. Now wouldn’t that be nice😉!

With the baths, I squirt some Axe or good soap (saddle wood). I also stress how much better he will sleep, how relaxing they are. But before we go places I insist like Catherine does. Let us know if this helps or if you find another method.


One of our Family to Family leaders said they paid their son $5.00 to take a shower…


I probably should have added he is living on his own for the first time since the diagnosis. @Hereandhere my frequency goal is when I see him, I don’t smell him. We will talk on the phone so face to face contact is about once a week. I have noticed while his clothes are different and look clean, there is a definite odor–especially when we are in the car. So I like @Catherine idea and definitely make a point to tell him I noticed, @Mom2! Not sure the money will work right now as he is being kind of funny about money lately.
Thanks everyone for the ideas!


My son is pretty good about bathing when he wants to go out - I can usually tell when he has a trip out planned - he will have on clean clothes and smell good!

My son has chosen a particular soap that he likes that smells wonderful. I always comment on how good he smells after a shower.


My sense of smell is extremely high, and i only like a few kinds of soaps. The others I can’t stand and won’t use. There is one type of soap (sandalwood) we get at this craft market, unimaginatively called the Eugene “Saturday Market” that I really like, so my Mom noticed I liked it and bought a case of them for me, and she always makes positive comments about it when she smells the soap on me.

So, yes the positive comments really help with motivation.


My husband has started not bathing/brushing teeth as well. And yes, its hot and he sweats a lot so the smell gets awful. I do the same-ask him if he wants to shower before me, then not fuss if he says no. Unless its getting really bad or he has a doc appt or visit with family, then I’ll make a point that he needs to shower, its been 5 (or longer) days and he’s starting to spoil (humor works well). But its hit or miss-no guarantees. Do you know why they stop taking care of themselves? My husband just says he’s too tired.


I have literally ran water, squirted in soap and led him upstairs by his hand before. Leave and shut the door. How is that for subtle?:nerd_face: Most times he will go ahead and get cleaned up.
I think he would not bathe if someone wasn’t there to remind him. He likes soaking in the tub and that is a good think.


If i speak with a hint of anger in my voice, my daughter tends to clam up and retreat into a delusional conversation. I’ve learned that only a calm and caring voice get the desired response. I will also use something she wants or wants to do as a way to motivate her, withholding it until she takes action. This works most of the time.


I dont have this problem , my son loves to shower. He may have 3 or 4 showers a day and spends at least half an hour at a time in there. It is sometimes frustrating as we only have one bathroom. This is one common thing that he has been doing since he was a child.


You made me remember that one of the first complete sentences my son said was ‘What’s that smell?’ He was very aware of odors. The soap he uses is a locally made soap with a swoon-worthy scent. I make sure he has an extra bar in the linen closet.


Thanks everyone for the stories and ideas.
The last visit I did notice and appreciate he had recently showered. I said that it was nice to see and he agreed it was important to do it for the sake of others.
Sometimes it is conversations like these I appreciate the most, not just because he did what I had hoped. So often he is lost in the struggle of his own world that interacting/thinking about others is the last thing on his mind. His decision he needs to do for others was a step back into the world. At least for a moment.


I also put hygiene in his reminder each day. I read that is what someone had done here and it helped them. I also had some luck yesterday relaying the importance of being careful which music he listened to. Not everyone is as sensitive but for my son it seems to be. He appears to be listening to that advice this week because so and so said so.
He slept really good last night and so far so good this morning. He is getting cleaned up on his own this morning. Like I said before with this illness every day is different. :smile:


We have been theorizing that the sense of smell is really important and I like the idea of a soap that is really nice smelling


unscented soaps and shampoos as well as laundry detergents, the most neutral possible so there is no overwhelming fragrance.


Maybe a bit off topic, but I have had sinus issues for a long time and sometimes my sense of smell is really off. When reading about my olfactory issues, I ran across an article that mentioned sense of smell distortion or sensitivity is one sign of schizophrenia!