My mother wears her clothes and puts them back in her closet. She never washes them. How can I get her to wash her clothes?

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My mother wears her clothes and puts them back in the closet dirty. She refuses to let me wash anything other than 1 pair of pajamas and socks that are in the hamper from the entire week....Lots of things are stained and have been worn many times. Her closet is starting to have an odor . She has moderate dementia and is in an assisted living. She is also now frequently refusing to take baths and is becoming a bit nasty with the aids on her floor. I have tried various ways to deal with this such as bringing a dry cleaning bag and telling her that I would take some clothes to the dry cleaners and sneaking some clothes out but she is adament that she wants me to leave the clothes alone because she "doesn't perspire or get dirty anymore" Any suggestions?

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Thanks to all for the great advice and all the warm wishes
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Jolly,
You have an excellent attitude and give warm and comfortable advice. I did not post this thread, but I did appreciate your response for it's supportive, strong and positive point of view. Thanks!
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Lots of excellent information here! I have to give a hug to the folks that are struggling with this though. I am one of those direct people and I am not afraid to stand up to my mom when I know it's the right thing to do. I do, however, pick my battles so major things like bathing and clean clothes I hit head but I don't worry about the small stuff.

Not everyone has that ability to jump in and take charge from someone who previously held the "head of the family" role. I have four siblings that all will tell you that they could not do what I am doing. One brother even says that if he told Mom some of the things I have to say, she would just slap him. That said with humor but his point was taken - they struggle changing that parent-child relationship.

So, for those of you struggling, take small steps until you feel more comfortable. Pick your battles and most of all, when you say that something must be done, such as bathing, follow through. If you waver, you're dead and they won't let you take charge. They are like children.

Good luck!
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If she is in assisted living, aren't they helping her to get dressed, and throwing her clothes in the laundry? She is paying good money for her care there, but they are not helping her when it comes to wearing clean clothes. I would speak to the nurse or social worker. If you are the one doing her laundry, you have the right to launder what you know to be dirty. if she tells them not to throw her clothes in the laundry, she has the right. But if you are the one doing her laundry, you have the right to take her dirty laundry. If she won't let you, then have the AL do the laundry. If they have to do it, they will throw clothes into the laundry daily. To be wearing dirty clothes or keeping dirty clothes around is a matter of health and hygiene, and there are health care standards about that.

My relative had been in a NF for 2 1/2 months recovering from a hip fracture. She has been home for almost 1 yr. She is not able to bathe or dress herself, so she has caregivers. They bathe her every two days. She is afraid to get into the tub, so they give her a sponge bath. She too does not feel she perspires,so she wears her clothes for 2 days, unless she spills food on them. She generally wears a "shirtsaver" bib, but not always. So if she does spill something, they or I will thow the item in the clothes hamper. I take her laundry home with me every few days. I will give away anything that no longer fits to Goodwill and throw away anything that is shredding. I will replace anything that I get rid of. Also she only has seasonally appropriate clothes in her closet. Her summer capris are in another closet. Come spring, her sweat pants will go in that closet.
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I think it is a bit easier if you are in their home or yours. I am guessing you have to take the clothes with you to wash then return them the next visit. A bit different.

As for the shower, I now have to help Mom the entire time. I have found that getting pump shampoo & conditioner helps. It allows me to hold on to her and still get the shampoo without using 2 hands. Even better if you can use the shampoo & conditioner in one, with a pump.

I know it isn't easy to tell your parent what to do, but I have found that I just do what needs to be done and she doesn't complain. Of course everyone is different. Hope you got some tips that will help.
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I think it is a bit easier if you are in their home or yours. I am guessing you have to take the clothes with you to wash then return them the next visit. A bit different.

As for the shower, I now have to help Mom the entire time. I have found that getting pump shampoo & conditioner helps. It allows me to hold on to her and still get the shampoo without using 2 hands. Even better if you can use the shampoo & conditioner in one, with a pump.

I know it isn't easy to tell your parent what to do, but I have found that I just do what needs to be done and she doesn't complain. Of course everyone is different. Hope you got some tips that will help.
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Just take the clothes away after she falls asleep and wash them. Why is this so difficult? You may put them back on their hangars in the closet, if you wish. Take charge!! You're the one now.
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I have to bathe my mil twice a week now or she wouldn't take one herself for months. I just let her wear the clothes she has on between baths. It just doesn't do a whole lot of good to stand there while she tells me she doesn't get dirty since she goes no where. When we take her out she DOES have to have a bath and clean clothes regardless of what day it is. She is very lax in hand washing....when asked if her depends are wet or dry I now get an "i don't know" then she sticks her hand down her pants and squeezes. And then gets mad cuz I make her wash her hands in------ horrors.........warm water and soap!!!!!
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I appreciate all the good information in the above posts about getting washing done and taking showers (and washing her hair). Mother has recently entered into the stage of needing help with washing and showering/hair, but at her convenience, not mine. I'll try the one day a week about her shower...pick a day and that is shower day. Of course, she forgets what day it is, but I'll try it. Thanks for the help. :)
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Just as with children who "don't want to do something"--TAKE CHARGE. Don't waste your time worrying about if they are going to BE ANGRY! So what?!
Just make a statement: "Mother, I am taking your clothes to wash them. You don't want to embarrass yourself by smelling."
(My Mother is always referring to being embarrassed about something, so I turn her own words on her. Works every time.) Of course, I am a very direct person, because I value my own life and time, so I don't worry about offending, since I do so much for her already!
Good Luck:)))
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