Mom is 81, she will not bathe or change clothes at all. She smells and it is making my clean house smell. I've tried everything . Help.

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My mom lives with us and she is dirty. She has only been with us for a month and a half and she has just taken a sponge bath one time.She has also been in the same clothes day and night. I have tried talking to her and even laid out her clothes and personal hygiene items in her own bathroom and I ran the tub. She just let it get cold and did not clean up. She needs a little assistance getting in the tub but it can be done and she is not shy. Her hair hasn't been washed in months and we were out in public and I put her in a wheelchair and when I was pushing her I could smell her hair yuck. Her hair is long and she keeps it put up. I guess that she thinks that if she combs her hair then that's enough well it's not . Other people are noticing too. She does not qualify for in home health care so it's up to me to try to fix this situation. She has totally taken over our livingroom and we can't even watch what we want to on TV because she hates our programs. All that she wants to watch are VERY old. We put cable TV and a very large TV in her own room and it is beautiful in there. I wish that somehow if she wants to watch something to her taste that she would use her TV that we got for her. She is set up in her own beautiful room but leaves her lamp on all night and her TV runs really loud all night. It is keeping us awake and we have tried many times to tell her it's too loud but she disregards it and turns it up when she can hear just fine. Help. I love my mom but this is my house too.


Kellyblaser322, unfortuantely you are not alone. Many caregivers and their elderly loved ones experience this. Check out our article on: Getting a Resistant Parent to Shower & Change Their Clothes

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

Good Luck :)
My sister-in-law was having the same kind of problem. Noticing that her mother wasn't showering, changing or washing her clothes. I went to stay with her for a week (I live in another state) and basically told her she needed to take a shower. If I had to walk her in there, get her undressed and escort her in, I would have done it. Luckily, she took a shower when I told her to. I'd say it like, "after you take your shower, we'll go for a ride in the car". I washed all of her clothes, had to buy her new ones actually. She was wearing things about 3 sizes too small. I know this sounds like a simplistic answer, but telling your mom isn't working. Is there something she likes to do outside of the house? Try telling her after she takes a bath, you will take her there. Maybe you could enlist some help from a close friend or family member. Double team her and just get it done.

We have the problem of the dirty hair, too. My mother-in-law was used to having her hair done every week, so she never washed it herself. Now that she hasn't been to the salon for months, I KNOW she hasn't washed her hair. She tells me she does, but I know. I'm going back down to help her move into an assisted living facility later this month and I'm going to approach this subject by asking her if she would like me to "do" her hair. She loves having it styled. I'm hoping she'll go for it, because honestly, I don't think it's very healthy to never wash your hair! Yuck!

It sounds to me like you need to set some boundaries with your mom, especially when it comes to her taking over the tv. She has a nice room with a tv, if she doesn't like what the majority wants to watch, she needs to go watch what she wants in her room. I think you might be giving her too much power in your own home. Also, if she has the volume up too loud at night, just go in and turn it down. Take the remote away or just unplug it, whatever it takes. She needs to respect the others in the house. Having dementia or whatever it is, is no excuse to treat everyone like this. Take control and set boundaries.
She isn't going to do anything she doesn't want to do. Given that she can move into your home and think she can control the TV tells me it doesn't occur to her that she needs to be part of the family community. She's acting more like the czar of the family. Of the czarina, anyway.

Get your self ready to talk to her truthfully about being part of this family. That it means bathing and clean clothes. That you like spending time with her around the TV but that everyone gets some TV time choices in the family room. If she doesn't want to abide by the basic hygiene and turn-taking rules, she is free to stay in her room. That she taught you about how to be a participating member of the family when you were a kid, and now she needs to do it, too.

Sometimes elders don't want to bathe because they can't smell themselves, because they are afraid of slipping, afraid of being cold, or want SOMETHING in their lives (their body) they can control. Given that she is pretty recently in your home, that could be the case. Also, there is a no-rinse bathing product (liquid no rinse shampoo, as well) you can get from a medical supply store that might be useful. BUT you will have to monitor its use, I'd bet. My own Dad used to stand in front of the running shower and never get in until I figured it out (the smell was the give away!).

So maybe launch the conversation with a discussion of why she doesn't want to bathe. Then move into the "no bathing is a deal breaker for staying here" discussion.

Things have flipped. It sounds like you are balancing respect for your mother with wanting respect for your position as homeowner. And, my guess is, you need to tip the balance toward a place that puts your household and family's needs above her singular desires. Good luck. And keep reading will find lots of useful ideas!
One thing I've noticed, being the daughter-in-law, I am able to get her to do a lot more, with cooperation, than her own daughter. I don't have a long history with her and she can't use the guilt trip with me or the intimidation. She knows that. But the minute I leave, she starts right in on my poor sister-in-law. I realize how hard it is to get your own mother to do things she doesn't want to do. I also realize that in my situation, there is a terrible history of verbal and emotional abuse between her and her children. That's why I have tried to step in and help out with the issues that are a problem. I was wondering if someone on the outside would have more success getting her to bathe. Maybe you could even hire someone just for bathing. Someone whose only job is to come into the home and help her bathe. I believe that there comes a time when you need to call upon the professionals to get through the tough times. It might only take a few times before she gets into a routine so you can take over. Something to think about anyway.
I agree not bathing and controling the living room is a deal breaker-if talking to her will not change she needs to understand that she needs to find other options-you have given her a nice room of her own and are only expecting some things from her and if she can not go along with things she needs either AL or a NH-it is not fair to the rest of your family to let her bad behaivor impact others.

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