Why does my 100-year-old mother insist on taking a shower when she had already done so earlier in the day?

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A few months before my mother turned 100 years old in August 2011, she would often tell her caregiver that she had not yet taken a shower, even if she had only done so a few hours before, or sometimes towards the late hours of the afternoon. And this happens now almost on a daily basis. She is assisted by two caregivers when taking a shower. My sister, with whom my mother lives, has an 82-year-old husband afflicted with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. My sister and the caregiver have even resorted to taking a phone video of my mother in the bathing process, something that I do not agree with because I feel that it is a violation of my mother's remaining dignity and privacy. My sister claims it is a way of proving to my mother that she actually took a shower on a particular day. My mother becomes frustrated, angry and irked when she is not allowed to take another shower during the day. She cries; she questions my sister and the caregiver about why they won't allow her to take a shower when she hasn't showered in the last two weeks, few days, or that day ... it varies. Friday afternoon last week, I received a call from the caregiver telling me that my mother again wanted to take a shower but was prevailed upon by my sister from doing so. Added to that, my sister locked the door to the bathroom so that my mother could not enter. My mother asked the caregiver to call me up ... on the phone, in between sobs, she told me to pick her up from my sister's house ... she said she could no longer stand the way she was being treated ... and that she wanted to stay with me ... could I please pick her up. I was sick that day, but I got up from bed, dressed up and went to my mother. In my sister's living room, I saw that there was a bag packed by the caregiver containing some of my mother's clothes and other essentials. My mother said that she would like to be removed from my sister's house ... that she would stay with me only for a limited time, until she could fly back to our country and stay there permanently with her caregiver ... that my sister was getting to be too much and that she no longer liked the tone of my sister when talking to her ... my mother was crying ... and it had been a long time since I saw my mother in that state. My sister's words, tone and manner of delivery seem to have weighed heavily when received by my mother. My sister was watching soap in my mother's living area (near the living room). Then my mother asked the caregiver to call my second older sister so that she could say her goodbye (my second sister lives in an apartment two buildings away from where my mother stays). When second sister arrived, she talked to my mother and explained that my eldest sister had already reached her limit--taking care of a sick husband who is more often than not in bed, eating meals and watching tv with closed eyes, incontinent and sometimes even excretes all over the bathroom, etc., and coping with an elderly mother who insists on taking a shower even if told that she already had one during the day. Added to that, second sister told my mother that she was again having one of her tantrums and behaved in a somewhat spoiled way, whenever my mother did not get what she wanted. She toldl my mother emphatically that mom was getting old, unable to think clearly, and that she should listen to what the people around her are telling her. The tone of my sister was rather harsh, definitely not compassionate and caring. I felt badly for my mother who suddenly acknowledged that it was all her fault and her reaction was to leave. What I saw was a deeply hurt 100-year-old woman, my mother, who could not express herself as easily as she could maybe 2 years back, not as mentally alert as she was in her younger years, and could not think very well owing to the non-stop homily of second sister. I could sense that my mother was under some sort of pressure. I called the attention of second sister and told her to give my mother a chance to think and talk ... impatience is one characteristic of second sister. I told my older sister that my mother seemed frustrated that she could not enter the bathroom as it was locked and that there was a better way of handling the situation, perhaps. The caregiver was ordered by my sister to call me up the next time my mother goes into a similar tantrum again. Much as I didn't want to, I had to leave my mother in my older sister's house with a fervent resolve to consult a geriatric physician or resource to seek an explanation as to the behaviour of my mother regarding the desire to shower frequently during the day ... and to obtain tips on how to handle the situation in a more compassionate and loving manner ... because when we were young and helpless, insistent and belligerent as children, our mother, most definitely, must have handled all of us with care, patience, gentleness, affection, tenderness and motherly love. I believe,it is now time to handle our mother in the same loving way.

Answers 1 to 10 of 17
God love her!!
Top Answer
It does sound like your mom suffers from some dementia. I think you are right on in making an appointment with a geriatric specialist who can lead you to some possible answers. There may be medications that will help your mom.

I also agree that your sister, the one taking care of your mom, has her hands full and could use a break from your moms care. I can't imagine being in her shoes, at her age, and taking care of her 100 year old mom and her 82 year old husband.

Maybe you are in a position to take on your moms care. Not sure if that is something you really want to do, but if so I would approach it from the position of giving your sister and well needed break.
My first question is, why not just give her another shower? Does it really matter if she has 2 in one day? There is a caregiver there who can help her, right?

Then I wonder how Mother's residence was determined. It really does sound as if the sister who hosts her is overwhelmed with more than one person can handle. She is not handling this particular situation well, but my heart goes out to her. She is over her limit. Could Mother stay with you, even a couple of days a week? This may cause some logistic problems with caregivers, etc., but giving that sister some relief might help her cope better and help everyone to be happier.

Mom is not going to be with you much longer. What is the harm in pampering her, even "spoiling" her for the months or few years she has left? If she dies next week in her sleep, will all of you feel better if you've managed to convince her not to take two showers in a day, or if you've given her what makes her happy, to the extent that you can?

Given that your mother is 100, you and your sisters can't exactly be in your thirties! You all three need to cut yourselves and each other some slack, too. You may not always be able to give your mother what she seems to want, and you (and she) need to accept your own limits and NOT feel guilty. Do what you can to make Mother's life pleasant and calm and free of anxiety. And accept that you can't control the universe.

(So many post here tearing their hair out trying to get their elders to bathe even once a week. Too bad we can't average out the hyper-clean with the poor-hygene cases!)
Your lucky!!! Most aging parents DON'T want to take showers!!!
karieh is right, how many times have I read on here how old people with dementia/alz NEVER take a bath or shower. How the smell just about kills the care giver. And jeanne is right, time to give the sister with the husband who has Alz. a huge break by one of the other siblings taking mom. That sister is showing signs of burn out by locking the bathroom door. How much more insanity can she take? And someone ought to be sending a picture of your mother to Willard Scott, about her being 100 years old. That in itself is something!
What I am reading is that it takes TWO people to give your mother a shower, which I am sure is at least an hour long event, between undressing, showering, drying and dressing again. I can see why that would frustrate the caregivers after weeks of this.Add to that a second person who needs as much care as your brother in law needs: that poor woman is over the edge.
As hard as it was to see you other sister speak so sternly to your mother, it does song like she has a history of tantrums, and that cutting through is the only way to get in there.
At the same time, how hard for your mother, who is concerned that she is unclean, and unwanted.
A geriatric physician can help your mother get medication that might help with the dementia. AND it seems beyond time for your mother to be cared for elsewhere -- either by you or another sister, or in a setting that really is focused on elderly people with dementia. You sister is sinking, and the stress is taking a toll on her, whether you can see it or not. She would never have resorted to locking the bathroom otherwise.
How can you help your mother do what, even in her dementia, she knows needs doing? How can you help her move elsewhere, so your sister can concentrate on caring for her husband and attempt to get some pieces of life back?
I hear you... but think of the alternative.... I struggle with my mother who frequently has urinary leakage and stool leakage to take a shower! Im only successful at one or two per week when I have a complete meltdown... :(
I have to tell my mom to shower once a week. She doesn't smell, but for personal hygiene concerning UTI infections and such I think it is essential to make her bath. Perhaps you could make a deal with her to go over and help her shower closer to evening with your 2nd sisters help.
If she suffers from Dementia...when she asks for that 2nd shower, just tell her YES but it will have to wait for about an hour because you are in the middle of "XYZ" (whatever you want to say) Guarenteed she will forget about the shower and at the same time it will take the stress off of the Caregiver for dealing with the meltdown. Let me know if that works! And from the sounds of it- its time to have a family meeting and see if there is a way to alternate caregivers. It sounds to me like they are on Caregiver overload and need a break. I am at that stage now and I deal with my grandma with Dementia throwing fits and she is VERY spoiled- worse than a 2 year old. She has alot of moments like you described and its not that they are not compassionate- its that they need a break to recharge. I held a family meeting and demanded the help from my aunts and uncles and told them I am not a 24/7 robot! Ive been caregiving by request from my family (because I have the most paitence) for almost a year for my grandmother. Can you believe I have only had someone relieve me for maybe 3 full nights in almost a year?? I feel for you and your family! Hang in there and remember, your mother deserves the love and respect you want her to have. Insist on relief for the current caregiver. It only makes a Dementia paitent act out more when they feel the stress of another person. I learned that the hard way! Good luck and God Bless!
" ... because when we were young and helpless, insistent and belligerent as children, our mother, most definitely, must have handled all of us with care, patience, gentleness, affection, tenderness and motherly love. I believe,it is now time to handle our mother in the same loving way." I am beginning to believe as a caregiver of a geriatric adult that I need to remove the guilt of "oh she did this for me or did it for her grandchildren". There is NO comparison between taking care of an adult and taking care of a baby. When things get overwhelming with babies, you can almost always place them in a crib/playpen and be assured of their safety until you regain your wits about you.... The same cannot be said for adults who have many dysfunctions whether it be dementia, medical conditions, physical lifting, pushing, pulling.... puddles of urine and poop.... NOT THE SAME.

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