Caring for incontinent relative making me smell at work despite best hygenic efforts. Job in jeopardy. Any advice?


My mother in law is incintinet. She has pee pots all over the house that she pees in and then empties them in the toilet. But since it often just dribbles out without warning, she misses and gets the carpet wet a lot. She's alsovery messy and lazy though physically and mentally able to clean up after herself for the most part beyond heavy lifting. (She only has some heart issues for which she has a clean bill of health from the cardiologist.) She just doesn't. She throws garbage on the floor while watching TV, leaves food out, has mail all over every surface so I can't clean it properly because she wants her papers left uintouched.

I vacuum, but due to crazy work schedule, cooking, cleaning, laundry for our apartment and her house I just can't find the time to carpet clean often with a carpet machine all that often. And even my best efforts leave a lingering stale smell.

I also end up washing towels literally soaked and dripping with urine, which I am concerned might be contaminating my wash loads. Anyway recently my boss called me in and said I have such a bad odor, something between a senior home and a dead animal was how it was described. She said it's strong enough that people in other aisles are complaining and I fear it will affect my job. My assistant is also telling me my odor is really horrible.

I'm a very clean person and have been in the workforce many, many years without ever hearing this complaint. I don't smell anything at all! I have no idea where it is coming from, if it's in my clothes wash or I am tracking it up into our apartment on my shoes. I can't tell anything is amiss but I continue to hear it at work. I have been told I need to remedy this problem immediately. I'm really upset about this as I have enough stress!

So my questiion is, have any of you had the same issue? What do you think is the worst cause of the odor, the wash, maybe I should wear different shoes down there? Or is that smell just permanently permeating everything? I'm scared they're going to send me home at my job. Any advice is great. I'm ready to look into moving out I am so stressed. Thanks in advance.

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I would start by banishing the pee pots, if she can make it to a pot she can make it to the toilet just as easily. And she needs to wear an incontinence pad or brief for the times she has no warning. This should be non negotiable!!!
How much urine can the woman produce that you are washing towels "literally soaked"? I assume this is probably from spilling the potties? I would not want to wash that with any of my own clothes, heck, I'm not sure I would even want that in my washer. At the very least pre soak the items in a bucket with borax as we used to do for washable diapers, and pour the dirty water down the toilet if you haven't got a laundry tub. You might want to use a washing machine cleaner on your washer to ensure it is completely clean.
Urinating everywhere without regard for cleanliness, her apathy and overall slovenliness are not normal behavior. Has she perhaps got dementia or mental health issues?
Helpful Answer (14)

Be sure you are washing your hair before work. Odors can most definitely linger.

There is something else going on here, though. I know that because my fiance's brother Phil is a hoarder. Much worse, I can tell, than your MIL. And his dog's messes are left all over his house. His siblings just spent WEEKS cleaning out his home. They had to wear masks with eucalyptus oil to tolerate the stench in the house.

The stench was in the rugs...they ripped them out and threw them away. In his mattress. His pillows. Any upholstered furniture. It was allll thrown away. A new Plether recliner replaced the couch and chair. A new mattress and springs were protected by a vinyl bedpad. Pillows were put in protective plastic zippered cases and THEN a pillowcase.

Phil lived in that God-awful stench. You would have never known that. He had no personal odor outside his home. His clothing didn't smell. He was neat as a pin.

My fiancé wore the same clothing every time he went to his brother's house. He threw them right into the washer when he got home. Socks, undewear, everything. He wore vinyl gloves you can buy for $8 a box of a few hundred at a pharmacy. He left his shoes in the old pair he eventually threw away.

You are trying to do too much. My God, you have enough on your plate, my friend. I hope I can teach you a very important lesson. Here it is: If it is your responsibility to keep your MILs home clean, then the authority to manage it YOUR WAY must be yours as well.

Get a handyman to help you and strip her home of all rugs, carpeting, upholstery, draperies, EVERYTHING "material" in her apartment. Order a dumpster or call 1-800-JUNK to get rid of it. Spend her money on the bare air mattress on the bed frame, one leather-like chair. Every single"material" thing protected from urine.

You don't mention pets. If she has any, find them homes. They are Irving in h*ll.

Your MILis mentally ill. If your OWN home is a disaster, then do is your husband. IF YOU DONT TACKLE THIS PROBLEM QUICKLY, zYou will lose your job. And likely the health dept or adult protective services will get involved and tackle it for you.

In fact, if you don't get cooperation and support from your husband, then he is mentally ill himself AND using you. I'd make the call to Adult Protective Services myself -- anonymously.

You're too close to this situation. It is not normal.
Helpful Answer (14)

Now my blood is starting to're legally blind, your husband is overweight and has health issues, and if I read that section of your post correctly he's also responsible for being slovenly and leaving garbage "all over", and they're both so lazy they don't even put plates in the sink....but you're still cleaning up after his mother?

Does he work outside the home?

Honestly, I think you could do better without both of them, although that doesn't address the odor issue.

I suspect some of it comes from failure to bathe. Other than putting out coffee grounds, baking soda, charcoal and other odor absorbers, I don't have any suggestions. It seems you're trying your best and your husband and MIL aren't cooperating.

With garbage left out, multiple points of urine collection, this just seems to me like a pig pen. If you could at least make MIL use depends and get rid of the pots all around, that would be a start. But if she isn't going to cooperate, I don't see any chance of improving the situation. And I suspect her son picked up his bad habits from her.

Your job is more important to you than caring for someone who won't cooperate, and from what you've written, this has been the situation for some time.
Helpful Answer (12)

PoetStorm, this sounds like you've got a much bigger problem than dealing with the odor. Are you and your husband in any way financially dependent on your mother? You mentioned that you are contributing to her bills but is she supporting you by you living in the apartment? I ask because to me it seems clear that she needs to be a nursing home with 24/7 support able to handle this level of incontinence, bladder issues, and mental issues combined. It's just not realistic for you or any one person to be expected to manage this. I realize the guilt of withdrawing your support when that means she can't live in her home anymore may be terrible, but otherwise you jeopardize your ability to support yourself and simply live remotely like a normal person. That's truly not fair to you and it's not fair of your husband to leave you in the position to make this sacrifice for his mother.
Helpful Answer (9)

Please, please, please forgive me for the following analogies. It's not my intention to offend anyone in this forum.

While reading your post I kept thinking of a dog marking territory. Then a house full of cats peeing and taking dumps at leisure. All those latrine smells stick to your clothes; particularly when there isn't much ventilation. That carpet has to go. And she has to be re-potty trained.

She's winning this battle of wills. Look for someone else to clean up before you lose your job.
Helpful Answer (9)

PoetStorm: wash your clothing separate from your MIL laundry and /or have dry cleaned. Or, do her wash, then clean, deodorize the washing machine tub by running a wash cycle (water only- no clothing, etc) with small amount of bleach or some other cleaner prior to washing your clothing. Shower & wash hair with a fragrant soap/shampoo every morning before work. Also, you should very seriously consider a NH for MIL. She may qualify for Medicaid.
Helpful Answer (8)

Poet, this now warrants immediate action since your boss has already called you in. Have you contacted social services? Area on Aging? I'm wondering if You can't get some help being legally blind, even in the way of funds to hire in home care and cleaning. On a practical level, consider using plastic ware so you don't have to do so many dishes maybe one pot meals, crock pot meals or even taken out maybe once or twice a week.

You will need to keep your clothes separate like others have said using a heavy garment bag. If you have a space at work maybe even take some there if they can be secured. The thing is that pee smell and vapors can get baked into your skin long after you're away from it. And you're in daily contact with it to a great degree so I can only imagine how bad it could be. You may need to soak in the tub with bath/epson salts and other aromatherapy type stuff to help get it out. Showers help but you may need a deeper soaking regularly.

And yes wear different gear when caring for her, certainly nothing you're wearing to work. Consider getting disposable shoe and boot covers, protective clothing, including gloves, hair net and face mask when you're with her cleaning up. I'm totally serious. Check out uline-dot-com or use google search. Try not to have any contact with her or go to her apartment before you go to work. At this point this is necessary to save yourself. I'm so sorry, wow it's just a horrible situation.
Helpful Answer (8)

The dead animal smell is probably rot. God knows where it's coming from. But if the carpets have been being peed on regularly over years… the thought of what you could easily be missing while you're crawling around on your hands and needs makes me want to pass out.

As soon as funds allow, find a deep cleaning company in your area - pest control companies might be able to help, too - and get somebody in to go round the house with you and identify the key issues.

Meanwhile call on support groups in your area to come in and help you find out what is causing the odours to cling to you, your clothes, your living environment. Holding down a job and getting yourself in order every day are a credit to anyone who's living with a severe visual difficulty; it's just too much if all of your hard work is undermined. You deserve help, so ask for it.

And, by the way, I would have very little patience with commercial or professional cleaners who turn tail or down tools when it comes to dealing with a difficult situation. That's what they're *for*, for heaven's sake - what's the point of cleaners who only clean clean houses? Keep searching until you find less precious individuals.
Helpful Answer (8)

I'm going to throw out some ideas from a different perspective.

Is it possible that some of the odor is not from you personally but somehow connected to your work station?

It wouldn't hurt to consult your doctor and have a check up including blood work, strange body odor can be a sign of health problems.
Helpful Answer (7)

Well, PoetStorm, I don't know what you have gotten yourself into but I started to answer your question but there are so many good answers here that I would just be saying the same thing. But from the description of your MIL and husband, you've become the "slave" to both of them and it's time to stop. If I were you, I would just MOVE into my own small apartment, take care of myself, do what is suggested to get the urine smell out of your hair, clothing, shoes, etc. and tell hubby it's his job to take care of his mother now. You've retired and he can't come live with you until he cleans up his act. You've done enough to become a saint and you don't deserve to be strapped to this pair any longer like oxen on a yoke. Get out of this situation that no one in that house cares whether you are there or not. It's not your job to do what you've been doing. Take care and good luck.
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