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My Parent Won’t Shower or Change Clothes. What Should I Do?


Why not try a Honor Guard personal care garment? You wear it right in the shower, and can be used to modestly cover while changing clothes. They are sold by Dignity Resource Council.

Baths and showers are no longer a choice. I sponge bathe my daughter when she is in a good mood.

The woman I work for has very poor hygiene. She flat out will refuse to let us wash her clothing, towels, dish towels....everything. Laundry has to be done on the sly so she doesn't go into a rage or begin yelling. She allows us to shower her but has been refusing regular hair washing. she does not use soap to wash her hands and insists on touching with dirty hands all of the food in the house. She is frequently sick and I believe a lot of it has to do with not keeping her hands clean. She becomes very agitated with any suggestions so that part is out. Family hasn't been able to reason with her. My concern is that, if she stayed in the home, we could let certain things slide, but she gets a lot of company and frequently leaves the house for appointments, etc. I am worried that others will think that she is not being well cared for because of her appearance. Well meaning people would not imagine how difficult she is inside the home. Her family knows all of this and we have their full support. She is not that far gone that she doesn't understand that she is declining, but still is unable to see the benefits of keeping herself, her clothing and her home clean. What I have begun to understand is that she is always worried about money. I'm thinking that she equates keeping clean with spending money. Detergents, soap, water, paper towels etc. all cost money and I now believe that she feels she doesn't have the money to "waste" on these things. I was wondering if anyone else had had this experience.

You have one of the hardest situations imaginable when it comes to this issue. Does your father-in-law have an old friend who he might listen to? Likely, since he's this bad, he suffers from depression or a type of dementia - or both. He needs medical care (as you know) but also, as you know, getting him there is the problem. Again, an old friend may be the answer. Someone of his generation could be more to his liking even when it comes to getting him to the doctor. I hope that you can find a solution.
Take care,

I need some advice. My fil doesn't shower, it is months between baths. He lives with us and the smell gets so strong I don't call him for dinner until after we all eat because it's so bad. I hate doing that. He is a very opinionated and mean old man. He lost his youngest son two years ago, which I know has been hard. He has had six heart attacks and has a pace maker. He drinks every day and doesn't ever want to go do anything unless it's run to the has Station down the street. He cancels his drs appointments all the time and reschedules. I can't make him take better care and he isn't incapable of doing these things. I have no clue what to do. My husband won't talk to him, says he will just get mad and tell at him and worrys that will mess with his heart. My father even tried inviting him out to a local festival his treat with music and beer, right up his alley. He cancelled last minute. I just don't know how to help.

I have a non-medical home care agency and would like to become a vendor

My mother has Alzheimer's, everytime I tell her to take a bath and change clothes and wash her soiled clothes, she becomes so agitated. How can I encourage to take a bath and change fresh clothes?

Once I figured out it was fear of falling I could adjust for that. Later, when my mother did not like the water falling on her, I installed a handheld shower unit. When she could no longer step into the tub and I was only showering her twice a week, I called it "spa day," and that she liked. When she was finally bed bound and totally incontinent, my mother was cleaned all the time. But we (aids and I) still called morning ablutions, "spa treatment" because she also got smeared with coconut oil which really helped her skin retain its integrity! And she loved the sttention.

I can identify because we went through the same with Mom. (not bathing or washing, long nails, not eating, fighting us about everything) Sadly, its the dementia and you can't change it, and you won't win arguing. Hopefully you could move him to a memory care unit? Sometimes medication can help, at least with the aggression, but we never found anything to get Mom to cooperate.


I have read stories like this time and time again. i am the sole caregiver and my dad lives alone, but near by, however, I work full time and have a family too. my dad clearly has (un-diagnosed) dimentia and is completely uncooperative in everyday living tasks. no bathing, wont even put ON clothes (just his boxers and a tshirt) and will not change them. he keeps his house at close to 90 degrees and insists its cold. he eats once a day even though I bring him food or fix him food... he wont eat it till hes good and ready, or sometimes not at all. he has no energy to even sit in his chair. he lays down all day only getting up to use the restroom or his food. he has long finger and toe nails, long hair and wont shave his face. and refuses to go to a doctor.

when i bring it up he gets mad and says "please don't do this to me"
Ive called social services and they said theres nothing they can do since he has food in the house, is monitored regularly, and is not in any immediate danger. They did send someone for a welfare check and he didnt answer the door, so it didnt help at all. he doesnt like people or strangers coming to the house.

so i read articles like this hoping for a new ray of light but its always the same suggestions. but none of them deal with solutions to extreme situations like this.