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.

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Has the doctor said that your mother has dementia?. The elderly do not necessarily have to have dimentia just because of age.!!! I know a lot of people who shower or take a tub bath more than once a day. Been doing it all my life..no one ever told me not to or that there was anything wrong with it.....it can be very relaxing. I like to take a nice shower in the morning...wakes me up...I feel great and in the late day or evening I usually take a nice warm bath in the tub....ahh not many things that I enjoy more and it not only helps me to relax but can at times soothe pain. Helps me go to sleep more easily....I sleep like a baby. When I visit up North in the winter I always feel cold and had trouble getting warm … would often take a nice hot bath to warm up...its heaven. Anyway.... Perhaps some of what is happening is about control...it seems to me eveyone wants to tell the elderly what to do...to control them. I am shocked that your sister would tape your mother in the shower for any reason....it is not only about the privacy issue...it is awful to think that we treat our elderly this way!!! I find it shocking!! Let her have another bath if she wants....she may even look forward to it. Do not think for one moment that your mother does not feel sad and hurt by how she is being treated....even those with dimentia have feelings. I was a caregiver and have worked with seniors my whole life... and I am very aware of the trails and tribulations of being a caregiver. I hope that it all works out and I am sure it will. I say let your mother have a little more say in her life. I think it is good that you asked the question because with more and more of us reaching that certain age these caregiving issues are gong to be given more light. We really need to learn more about the aging process and what it means to be elderly at this particular time because there will be a great many people for the next 20 years reaching that age. Perhaps your family would benefit from some counseling with regards to aging (might help) them to understand your mother better. When it comes to aging…. We need a plan and a way to help them live as long as possible with as little supervision as possible....yet keep a quality of life that any of us would want. After all we are all getting older and heading in that direction. Blessings to you and your family.
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You are fortunate that your mother wants to take showers. If two showers makers her happy, then just allow her to do so. At 100 years of age she should be able to do whatever makes her happy. My dearly departed mother never wanted to shower. We had to force her to do so. God bless your mom.
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Teebee, I agree with you that taking care of an impaired adult is not the same as taking care of a child. My mother certainly never diapered me as a deadweight adult. My father could easily pick me off the floor each time I fell learning to walk, but I was more than 100 pound lighter than was in his old age, and he never had the worry that I'd break my hip when I plopped down on the floor. When they patiently presented a lesson over and over they had some hope and expectation that I would actually learn it and eventually do it myself. When I was a messy eater they took pictures and thought it was funny -- but they had the advantage of knowing this was a temporary state on the way to mastery of eating skills. And that is a Big Deal. There are joyous milestones in raising a child -- the first step, the first sentence, the first messy meal accomplished without help. The milestones in caregiving are distressing -- no longer able to walk, increased difficulty in speaking, difficulty swallowing. So, I think you are absolutely right, the tasks and stresses are NOT THE SAME, and there is no reason at all to feel guilty when we can't return the services our parents performed for us. They never did what we are trying to do now.

But I do relate to where polandspring is coming from. If we were lucky enough to be raised by loving, caring, patient, nurturing parents, then we should strive to handle them "with care, patience, gentleness, affection, tenderness and motherly love." That doesn't mean we should feel guilty if we can no longer lift our 165 -pound father off the floor, or if it takes 2 people to bathe our mother and there is only one of us, or if we cannot handle the increasing workload that safe care demands. It doesn't even mean we should feel guilty if we sometimes get impatient or exasperated at our loved one's behavior. Even our kind, loving, nurturing parents had their moments of less-than-perfect parenting.

But I think as a goal, striving to handle our impaired loved ones with care, patience, gentleness, affection, tenderness and motherly love will bring more peace to all of us.
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couple of suggestions:
1. be sure the shower includes hair doing and make up, then if she wants a shower later, show her a hand held mirror and she will see she was made up for the day.
2. have an after lunch activity, find a local bingo game, or play go fish or memory with a deck of cards, but have an afternoon activity as part of her daily routine that will reestablish a difference between afternoon and morning. If the television is her all day activity, this could be a contributing factor
3. check with her doctor on sundowners and anti anxiety meds. These do not "knock out" the person, but they do take the edge off of the phenomenon known as sundowners, and will make her less anxious. I strongly encourage you to do this, as hard as the requests are for your sister and their caregiver, they are worse on your mom who is convinced she is filthy!
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I know all this shower taking must be a hassle, but I have to say I'm envious: my aunt hasn't bathed in months, claiming she just took a bath "this morning." We do sponge baths, but I'd love for her to shower regularly.
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Your sister is on overload. Unless you are willing to take Mom to your home, it is time to make other arrangements. Until you live full time with someone with dementia (no matter what kind) you can't begin to know how stressful this is.
Perhaps if you could take Mom on a "vacation" to your house for a while it would help everyone. Mom may just be looking for attention -when she is taking shower she gets a lot - rest of the time is she just sitting around?
If it is just dementia - she really doesn't know if it is still today, yesterday or 2 weeks ago or 2 weeks since last shower. This what caregivers are paid for.
They should be the ones humoring her as best as possible and seeing to her needs. Too bad if it inconveniences them. Maybe try to find some caregivers more able to handle dementia.
If you don't want to or can't take Mom home with you, speak up. She needs stable environment. Even if that is assisted living facility.
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I don't mean to sound disrepectful by chuckling. I am reading the responses ...leakage, elders not wanting to shower, AT ALL..... I have been through all of this with my parents. I feel for you because you are all overwhelmed and your Mom feels like you are not "letting" her have her shower. If someone can assist her for a quick shower, perhaps everyone will be happy. As one person said, she will not be here that much longer and someday you will feel you did all you could. God bless you all. And God bless your Mom at 100!
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" ... 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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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!
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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.
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