Follow
Share

I'm totally lost here. Dementia isn't an issue here--my 75 year old mother refuses to bathe because it doesn't bother HER. This is a long-standing problem (my dad reports hygiene issues with my mother 30 years ago), and it's degenerated to screaming matches more than once. She's come down with repeated MRSAs, which makes her a very real danger to the rest of the family. She has sores, open, oozing spots on her ears and scalp, and the odor is absolutely horrifying. Just today, she FAKED a shower--went in, turned on the water, let it run for a few minutes, then wet her hair and came back out, pretending to have bathed. I know she faked it--no soap suds or shampoo suds in the tub, no smell of soap or shampoo, no water on the floor, towels dry. I'm at my wits end. We're moving away in a few months, mostly because of this. Nothing works but screaming at her, and even that only works for a couple of weeks. What can we do?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
I have had the same problems with my mother-in-law. When we moved her near us a year ago...she is in her "mother-in-law's" quarters......she would run the water for 5 minutes and then get out of the tub. It is a handicapped tub so we knew it took at least 20 min. to fill it. Found she was cramming herself down into the "foot" area of the tub instead of sitting on the seat. Anyway, she went berserk one evening and she was taken to the local hospital and admitted to the Behavioral Unit for an attitude adjustment. She was placed on medication which I administer every day...won't take it otherwise. Even though she is on meds she is still argumentative, screams, says horrible things and fibs about bathing. My husband finally had enough one evening and she was stripped and put in the tub and I watched over her and made her wash......and yes the water was black. Now the rule is a bath twice a week with me overseeing.....and I have to close my ears to her ranting and arguing. Thrice, your mother may need to be admitted into the hospital to care for her sores and then put on medications. If you are moving away who will help care for your mother? You might have to consider a nursing facility as her care may be too much for your father. Have you talked with him about what will happen when you move? Good luck, my heart goes out to you because I have been in your shoes and to a degree I am still there.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Thanks Cindy, at this point as hard as it to swallow we have to look at them as if their our children all over again and yes keep them smelling and looking their best..
God Love you and all the care givers in the world. You all have earned your wings!
Sandie
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I feel for all of you. My mother-in-law has AD and is that point of not remembering if and when she cleaned up last. The only thing she will come back with is,"I already washed up today".
As one of her care takers, I just say to her, I am sorry, Mom but you did not wash up today. We have to go in the bathroom with me and I will help you clean up. She does not want to do it. But I just move her along to the bathroom and get it done. As her care taker, I want to keep up her dignity as best way I can. I don't feel it would be fare to her to just let it go. She always was so clean on herself before the AD, and it is no trouble to make sure no one else has to see or smell her in this condition.
It is hard at first to do it. But after Mom is all cleaned up. She has a happy face, and feels a lot better.
I hope that helped someone.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I have the problem with my dad that I have now started telling him while we are out that people are holding their nose due to his body odor.He doesnt like it but he does now take a shower every 3-4 days. It's sad that we have to do this but the smell is ruining our homes.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

This is a tricky situation for you... Have you tried a bath tub chair and and hand held shower head? This can be very helpful a person feels like they get clean yet do not risk falling. As for the peeing YOU may need to remind him to go to the bathroom. He may also need to think about wearing disposable underwear. Depends is the name brand of these.
I think it is just hard, If you could get a homecare aid to bath your Dad that might be helpful. take care, J
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

My dad just turned 74 and has moved in with us in the last few months, my husband is his caretaker. The shower seems to be a big deal, I have talked to my dad, and he says the shower scares him and that he is afraid of falling. So now we have a medical bar in the bathtub, and a non slip pad. He still doesn't want to take showers, and only will if I ask him to (he wont do it for my hubby). His room is starting to smell a bit, he has issues with peeing as well. We gently address these issues as they arise, but straight talk and tough love seem to work the best. We have made some progress, and his Dr is trying to figure out the mild incontinence. I think it helps dad that we are so open about it...he doesn't have to feel like he has lost control ...it is an adjustment for us all ...compassion has gone a long way but putting our foot down sometimes has been important too. I tell him it is because we love him that we cannot let him sit around in dirty clothes or with poor hygeine (plus the house would smell).
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

thriceshy, I feel for you. I have the same exact cituation with my 78 year old mother. i don't want to be labled as a neglectful daughter! i need to know what I can do without turning her over to a social worker, but its been 3 years! I am glad to know that i'm not alone in this. my e mail is rosekauffman@fundershomeloan.com if you want to chat.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

my grandma is 89 and has gotten to the point she don't want to even wash up anymore. it's gone from not getting in the tub, to not taking showers, to not washing up, Old peoples piss is the worse, they wont drink water and take all the meds. i work all day i drive an hour each way, when i walk in the door the first thing i have to do is clean both bathrooms because she cant pick just one to use. then she sits and about 30mins after she made the statement that she has to pee. So now she can't hold it. I missed my calling i'm a good bathroom cleaner :~)
Clean with Hydroperoxide it works i put it in her wash, in my mop water. it get rid of the oder just make sure you use gloves.

What's a girl too do?
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

so sorry - but i will also ask for a sedative- im sure thats what they have t do at the homes. so far mom doesnt like it but hasnt fought me on it- call the docs, i just put my mom on nicotine patch cuz she was wanting to chain smoke cuz culd not remeber she just put one out- has had patch on for 2 days and has not asked for cig once-
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

sometimes you have to laugh or you will CRY right... If she sits on a bathtub chair and you soap her up and rinse her off does that help??? Have you tried just saying Mom you do not smell good??? I know that this is hard. My Mother is EXTREMELY stubborn so I know that it is an issue... I pray she never fights me about bathing (knock wood ha ha ) so far she hasn't take care J
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I too have been struggling with this problem with my 90 year old mom who has always been very careful about her hygeine.. but now does not "want to get wet" and "it's too cold" and "I'll do it tomorrow." She has a small bathroom, with a heater and I get the room REALLY toasty, warm the towels and set her up with somewhere she WANTS to go... out to eat, to get her hair done, ANYTHING she really wants to do! And even then, I have about 50/50 chance of success. Her Psychiatrist and her GP say once every two weeks is ok. And even then, it is a struggle!. And then, sometimes, she will look at me with a sly look and say "I KNOW what you are trying to get me to do... and it won't work!" and giggle. ARGH! When the kids were little, I could pick them up and put them in the tub... but what about Mama? I think I will take her to the Doctors visits without the bath at about 2 weeks... along with her incontinence... MAYBE they will see what we are trying to live with................(I do admit that we have not had the sores and MRSAs others mentioned... so this is mainly an inconvenience, embarrassment and discomfort on our part!) OR...... I HIGHLY recommend VICKS or Mentholatum--- Around the caregiver's nose! ;-) Aww, come on... I gotta laugh about something! ;-)
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I am also facing this serious problem. My Mom is 90 years old and has dementia, however she does well with carrying a conversation and pretty good with reasoning. Buttttt, the bath is a problem, she hasn't had one in months and the nausiating smell is killing me. She will wet herself at times and still won't bath. Her hair looks like a birds nest and she keeps wearing the same dirty clothes. I've begged her to bath, but she lies and says she has already bathed. We go round and round. It is a difficult problem and serious. Tough love is the only way. Good luck to you. I've told all my friends, if I ever get this way force me to bathe.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I appreciate the kind responses. If there is dementia, it's been present since at least the 1960s, because her hygiene was an issue between my parents from the time they married. What this seems to be is a refusal to care about anything she doesn't notice. She doesn't notice the smell, therefore she doesn't care. The sores she does seek medical attention for (but refuses to entertain the idea that bathing would help), but she always goes to the local clinic rather than her personal physician, so no one's seeing a pattern here. She had a MRSA that lasted months a couple of years back, but refused to admit that her own poor hygiene was the reason. Today she faked another bath. She got wet, but no soap, no shampoo. She knows she's doing this, but knows that we're less likely to hassle her if she fakes it. She knows that I'm rarely up to the full out, "I KNOW you faked it, you must bathe!" fight.

I'm considering calling her physician. She hasn't had a pelvic for years (despite my frequent barking about it). Perhaps I can convince her doctor to talk to her about this? She's always caved to the dictates of male medical professionals (she was an RN until just this past spring), so perhaps her doctor can get through where we can't.

My husband and I are moving out of state in a few months. This means that my sister will be stuck with this situation. I want to try to get things as "fixed" as they can be before we go.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I would also adopt the tough love approach... It is affecting her health and yes I agree there is some dementia... She is not reasoning well and not able to care for herself. I would get gloves and a mask and help her take a shower. I would not give her any choices... she needs to do it or she has to be put in a facility where they will care for her. take care J
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I have worked in this field for over 20 years now. Unfortunately this is a common problem with the elderly.Hygiene is just as important as their physical health. At this point it is about "tough love". Asking the Doctor for a sedative for anxiety does help at times. It is also helpful sometimes to hire someone else to do these things. Most of the time your loved ones play on your emotions and your feelings and the guilt can lay pretty heavy. If you do receive a sedative it is best to give at least 30-40 minutes prior to bathing/personal care. Always have your area set up and ready to go with shampoo, soap, clean clothing and whatever else you might need. It can be helpful too if you do NOT "ask" them if they want their bath/shower. Sitting with them with that 30-40 minutes prior and spending some time with them also helps. And if indeed it does not go right the first time or even second time, with consistency it will help in the long run.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Sounds like excellent advice, T.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I am so sorry. But actually, it does sound a bit like dementia. As in, if it was me deciding that I did not want to bathe, clean or attend to my wounds then I would obviously have crossed a line somewhere. In that case I would want my family to take firm but kindly charge, get a doctor to give me a (preferably knockout) tranquiliser, clean me up, attend to my wounds/take me to hospital, and clean up my room. Give everyone a chance to break the pattern?

Sorry if this is useless advice, it sounds like a nightmare.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I only wish I had an answer for you but I am only here to tell you we have the same problem with my mother, the smell is so bad no one can go into the room now without gagging. I have begged and begged and written mum a letter to say how much I miss my old mum as I can no longer sit and talk with her because of the smell. I cannot understand why she cannot smell this. Doctors are no help whatsoever - someone out there must have an answer! Any Health visitors or nurses out there to assist - what can be done??? Desperate daughter of 78 year old mum who does not believe she smells even when not showed for months on end.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.