What to Do When a Senior Refuses to Bathe and Change Their Clothes

Carol Bradley Bursack Minding Our Elders Updated
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I found that adding a few cups of apple cider vinegar to a bath greatly helps to encourage the Alzheimer's patient to get into the bath tub, with much less fussing. Maybe the water is more soothing with the addition of apple cider vinegar (it might soften the water somewhat)? Please note that apple cider vinegar must be used, and not white vinegar. This patient stopped complaining almost immediately when immersed in a warm bath mixed with apple cider vinegar - however, he did complain mightily when he had to take a shower. It seemed as if the spray bothered him quite a bit.
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My husband has not showered in 2 years. He is very stubborn about any hygiene at all. He says he washes up, but he has a terrible odor which he has passed on to his chair He likes to sit in, so stinks up the whole house. He is able to get a home care person through the VA, but he refuses anyone coming in to help.
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Jesus! your mom forgets to bathe and now you have to stick her in an care facility? I notice a trend around here with sticking your parents in a facility away from you because you can't handle the issues with an elderly parent. How do you think the parent will feel? They raised you from infancy to your teen/20s and you can't care for them for the few years they need you as they lose their faculties? You deal with it like a grown up.
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My dad has dementia and the thing for him is afraid of falling although he can get agitated..when the word bathe comes up...
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My husband is 63 has TBI and refuses to bathe or shower more than once a week. It’s a point of contention. Plus he’s either all or nothing with his hair...either lets it grow shaggy all year, or just buzz cuts it. It’s like he is afraid of the barber or says it’s a “waste of money” to fuss over his hair.
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There are bath wipes out there that can be used to take a bath without having to get under or into running water. They do a great job and keep the person smelling sweet. And a lot easier to convince someone to use if they refused to get into a shower.
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My 75 year old friend has not shaved or cut his hair in 4 months. Should I be worried about him? He says he wants to look like that.
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What do I do if I'm living with my soon to be wife, have done for some years now, but her father will not bathe or even wipe himself when going to the toilet.

I've tried talking to him till I've burst into tears because of how awful I felt in asking him to have a shower once a day to stop the house car and anywhere he occupies stinking like a used nappy.

He refuses to eat how the dietician tells him to. He even shouts his wife from the other room to make him a sandwich and fetch his beer because he's lying on the floor watching TV in his own filth.

It's reaching breaking point in our relationship because no one will actually say clean yourself or we leave, or you get a carer in to bathe you.

The house has been remodeled to suit him with walk in shower and stair lift and even as far as replacing 4 stair lifts because they have all buckled under his weight now they have even bricked up one for in the house and knocked a hole for another door so they can put ANOTHER stair lift in that supposedly won't break this time.

And frankly the in home assistance has made him even lazier. The only exercise he got was climbing the stairs. Now the most he gets in walking from one room to the other or the car.

All the time my partner and I have to live in the same house as him and zero consideration for us.

It's like he assumes everyone around him is his carer/there to service his needs.

His hygiene is non existent.
He talks with his mouth full spattering food everywhere wipes his hands on clean towels...
I saw him eat an entire leg of lamb once... Not even kidding. The whole leg.

It's driving me to a mental breakdown again.
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GREAT INFORMATION. My mom hates shower days at her memory care home and I hate the stress it causes her. I agonize more than she does. This article was helpful to know how common the problem is and that we just have to do the best we can.
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If your love one won't bathe, there are products out there that will help. Comfort Bath is one of them. Each package will clean the whole body and leave them fresh smelling and skin soft. You can have them remove one piece of clothing at a time. Have clean stuff to swap out with and toss what just came off into the laundry. I have a mental problem when it comes to being under water (shower/bath) so I use this. I stay very clean and smell good. And I don't end up with a panic attack in the process.
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