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My elderly father (nearly 83) lives with my family. He has his own room and private bath on the first floor. He has had some health challenges the last few years but, for the most part, is in very good shape. He still drives, exercises almost daily and while he has slowed down mentally, does OK overall.


He is a generally very tidy person (e.g. his car, room and clothes are always in order), but his personal hygiene is generally disgusting. He uses the bathroom and doesn't wash his hands, spills food in his room, and has used a hospital urinal to relieve himself because he doesn't feel like putting on his bathrobe to go to the bathroom sometimes. As far as we know, he has always been this way but has only really come to our attention since we invited him to move into our home two years ago.


Here's what I have spoken to him about and how:


1. "Dad, I noticed you didn't wash your hands before dinner. You need to wash your hands every time you go to the bathroom." (One of my children is OCD, and we had to buy him his own mini-fridge for his room because he refuses to touch the refrigerator his grandfather uses). I have reminded Dad of this WHILE HE IS IN THE BATHROOM and he will turn the water on and off quickly and then says, "I washed my hands!"


2. I removed the hospital urinal and threw it away. I reminded him that he is no longer in a rehabilitation facility (where he was a year ago following surgery) and that he is to get up and go to the bathroom like everyone else. Not long after, we caught him peeing into a drinking glass. I had a calm, eye-to-eye conversation with him that if continued this practice, he would have to go live somewhere else. That seemed to stop the practice but now I am constantly cleaning his room because it smells like urine.


3. I have required him to eat outside of his room. He is one of those people who has to be watching television or reading something at all times, and there is no television in our dining room. Face to face conversation is very difficult for him unless you're willing to only talk about things that happened to him 50 years ago.


Like a trusted family member has accurately observed, Dad thrives on pity and he's only happy when he's being waited on hand and foot. I manage that aspect of his care as best I can, but the general uncleanliness is getting difficult. Like I said, I have been firm with him but typically he goes off to his room and stops speaking to me for a while.


He had previously lived alone for many years after my mother's death, with the same habits -- food-spilling, no hand washing, nasty bathroom habits. But I suppose I never really paid attention to it directly until I had to live with him. I have spoken to several doctors about his habits and had him checked for dementia. They have all said he has no physical or mental limitations other than just those normal for a man his age.


My question is this: Do I remain firm with him and just ignore the guilt and the sulking?

laughed at the comment about hard to talk to him unless it's about something in his life 50 yrs. Ago. I go through that exactly. Recently i got my dad to use baby wipes, which he loves them, but how well and sanitary if it's not warm water and soap?Then when I sanatize his room, mandatory he's gone for a bit or he'l complain of the smell. Been firm lately reminding him he's not a baby & if he can lift a glass of wine to his mouth, then he can wipe his fecal accident off the toilet seat, so firm I've been although he says it's mean, him & I both know he's just taking me for granted with lazy hygiene actions.
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Reply to cheriel53
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inreverse Dec 19, 2018
Boy, that toilet seat comment was right on the mark!
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I wish I could talk more with my mother about events of 50 years ago. She doesn't seem to want to go there and I don't want her to be uncomfortable. She will answer questions of my daughter in front of my grandaughters. I admire all you are trying to do. I can only imagine how difficult this must be. I think you should stay firm with those issues that are important to you. You are dealing with alot and you should not be made more uncomfortable.
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inreverse Dec 11, 2018
Thank you. It’s horrendously stressful. Glad to know I’m not alone.
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I knew it going in (mainly the “eating in bed” issue), but the other habits were unknown.

There is is no other living arrangement possible. So I have to work with the situation as-is.

The overarching situation is his general “want” to have things exactly the way he has lived for decades. I’ve changed a lot of his bad habits, but the worst of them have been more difficult.
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Tothill Dec 10, 2018
Why is there no other possible living arrangement? If he is poor, he should be eligible for subsidized housing.

Where was he living 2 years ago? Why did you move him in with your family?

The peeing into containers thing, pops up on this site quite regularly. I know my Dad has done that at night for more than 30 years, since he was in his 50's, he had no reason for doing it when he started, now it is safer for him to do so. I have no idea why, in all that time there has been a bathroom very close by. He pees into a pail and then dumps it in the toilet in the morning. Of course this means he is not washing his hands all night and is touching various things, his robe, door knobs etc on his way to pouring out the pail.

If there truly is no other housing option then Dad has you over an barrel, he will continue to be unsanitary as you cannot threaten him with eviction.
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To make someone change, there are to be a stick and a carrot. If he doesn’t behave properly, there needs to be a result that he won’t like. Otherwise why would he change? If you can think of nothing else, stop the food. He only gets to eat with you (and that’s the only place food is allowed) if his personal hygiene is adequate. Put a lock on your own fridge and food cupboards. He is most unlikely to starve himself to death. But also think carefully about other living options for him. He doesn’t need to go straight from your place to an expensive nursing home.
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inreverse Dec 10, 2018
Thank you, that’s helpful.
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There are no siblings or anyone who can take him. Financially, he is in no position to move into a home. So I have to deal with the issues “in house.”
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Ahmijoy Dec 11, 2018
Medicaid?
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He needs to move somewhere else even if it means a nursing home or live by himself
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Reply to Sherry1886
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Dad is a slob and from what you wrote, he’s always been like this, so you knew it going in. Expecting him to change once he was in your home may have been unreasonable. I don’t blame your child for not wanting to touch the refrigerator.

Since this is negatively impacting your life in some pretty disgusting ways, I’d tell Dad you can no longer have him in your home. Heart to heart conversations with him obviously haven’t worked. He does what he wants and everyone else can go hang. However, he still expects you to be his servant while he does his own thing—and perhaps you’ve gone along with it. Sulking in an child is bad enough and when it’s an adult, it’s completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

Go over Dad’s financial situation and discuss this with any other sibs in the picture. Decide, with his doctor’s help where he needs to go, Independent or Assisted Living or a Senior apartment. If Dad protests, tell him he has had chances to shape up and hasn’t. You can no longer live with his filth, poor hygiene and refusal to change. If he promises to “do better”, give him one month. If things go back to the way they were, begin the process again and this time follow through.
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