Hot showers

Is being able to shower with warm water a basic human dignity?

(I’m not sure I’m happy with how I worded the question)

Feeding the poor would be considered a corporal work of mercy.
How about showering the poor with warm water… would that also be a corporal work of mercy?
I understand that if warm water plumbing doesn’t exist at that particular moment then just showering them at all would be a corporal work of mercy.
But if you make it a mission to continue feeding the poor and showering them, then would you be obligated to attempt to get warm water for them?

Aren’t cold showers more of a torture than a work of mercy?

I understand that I could use cold showers as mortification when speaking of personal spirituality, but to impose on this on the less fortunate doesn’t seem right.

What do you think?:blush:

I think that is a human dignity issue…I think you work where you can, with what you can, and improve upon this as one is able. Start at square one (providing food and clothing) and go forward from there.

I don’t think cold showers are torture under normal circumstances. Think about it, when you swim in a lake, the water isn’t heated…or even at a pool. It takes a few moments to get used to but that’s about it.

what are normal circumstances?

I’m talking in the circumstances where the person is sick and poor and unable to take care of themselves. As the previous poster, you work with what you can with what you have. Also I’m sure back in the dark ages many did shower in the cold. These days things have changed where basic plumbing is generally available. So basically it comes down to if you had the money would you spend it on gas to heat the water? Someone said food and water are basics and you go from there. Well how about blankets? wouldn’t that go hand in hand with basic care and comfort for the suffering?

Under abnormal circumstances, how important are warm/hot showers for a person?

which people
do you mean in a mission territory, do you mean at a soup kitchen downtown? Yes it would be a work of mercy to provide warm showers, say for the homeless. But by definition a work of mercy is not an obligation
I don’t think I understand the question

Some wonderful nuns in our hometown in Ohio established a drop in center for the homeless, which grew into a hot lunch program, then also was able to serve a hot dinner each evening, and then became also a food pantry. They had to move the used clothing to another facility because of health laws, but they put up an addition with bathrooms and showers and laundry machines so the homeless had a place to bathe, wach their clothes, shave, get ready for job interviews, even use it as an address which is required for so many job and education programs. It made a huge difference in the lives of many people.

It was just that a work of mercy, assisted by the efforts of many people. No, they were not obligated to provide showers because they served coffee and donuts, nor were they required to serve dinner because they served lunch. They did what they could and with grace and good will of many people, were able to do more and more.

my question is… if you decide that you want to offer showers for the infirm, must you make hot showers available or is it ok to provide cold showers and physically shower people who are sick and maybe even dying, and are on their last days.

Andrea, I’m trying to understand what motivates your interest in this topic. Are you aware of a situation where sick or dying people are being showered regularly with cold water?


Where is the showering of the sick and dying in cold water taking place? In a developed urban environment?

Personally I have no issue with cold showers. Ive had them all my life, when I wasnt washing in rivers and lakes - after a run I always have a cold shower or sit in an ice bath as it promotes muscle recovery. I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years, so it’s normal for me.

Im not so sure showering/bathing the elderly and infirm in cold water is ok if its not something they were ever used to and if there is a better alternative, for example, heat up pots of water and have a warm bedbath.

Hot showers are a modern thing, there are many places on earth where people have never had water heaters.

why are people who are in the dying process receiving showers, why not bed baths or a gentler process?

who wants to offer showers for the infirm? under what auspices? in what setting? is this a remote area where no hot water is available? a hospital or hospice? could we please have some context?

The poor and those of us who work with the poor, we have limited resources. If I have a choice of buying food or a water heater, I am going to buy food. No one wants to make people go without hot water, but, sometimes you have to make hard decisions - pray that we all win the lottery :slight_smile:

Water can be heated in many ways. A kettle full of boiling water in a large tub of cold water will make the whole tub tepid, which would be fine for sponge bathing a dying person. Room temparture or tepid to warm water is probably fine in the case of simply washing a poor person. Providing medical care beyond just first aid and pallitive care may require hot water, but I doubt that care would be denied anyone because the facilities (Haiti, say) are not there to provide it.

Of course, in developed countries (and where no huge disaster has just taken place) there are also many regulations surrounding services like food and healthcare, so that would probably mean being on a regular plumbing system. Even office buildings will be shut down if the running water is cut off, but I don’t think anyone worries if just the hot water is out.

there are many places in the world where its warm enough that people don’t have hot water tanks. so i would say in general for the entire planet, hot showers are not a basic human dignity

You got that right.
I saw show on History Channel about a unit that goes to forward units in Iran & Afghanistan to do laundry & provide showers for the troops there. None of the GIs who had been weeks w/o a shower asked, or complained about how hot or cold it was.

I hate cold showers but if I were, God forbid, on the street, I’d be grateful for any shower – I tend to, uh, ripen, pretty quickly.

I apologize that you misunderstood what I meant.

By abnormal circumstances I meant 30 below freezing outside with no heat in the house.

If it is truly that cold outside, showers at all are probably not necessary. Getting undressed and being wet (in any kind of water) will make you loose too much body heat. Some one who is old, ill, or malnourished might be compromised severely by a chill from showering in those conditions.

My point exactly. That’s what I meant by “abnormal circumstances” and my suggestion that it would be torture under those conditions.

There you go!! Thanks for your responses they were very helpful. Ultimately I guess warm/hot showers are indeed a luxury and not a basic necessity.

I have sent you a PM, because I am uncomfortable/concerned with the conclusion you have come to, based on this additional information that I was not aware of. More detail in the PM.

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