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This started about 2 months ago. I'm not sure if this person is not taking enough showers or isn't washing clothes enough or does it come from sweaters/jackets worn around the house? It is getting so bad we can hardly ride around in the car with this relative. How can I bring this up without causing major drama?

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Does this person have a friend who can help? Often, someone other than family members can address these issues without seeming offensive. Either way, try to keep it from being personal. You could suggest that you are "rounding up" all the sweaters and jackets worn repeatedly for a good washing, and then include the ones that person wears. Then, try the same method with clothing. If this doesn't solve the problem, then showering may be an issue. Depression or other health issues can contribute to lack of personal hygiene, so a visit to a doctor may be in order.
Good luck. This is touchy to be sure, but not unusual.
Carol
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Hey there,
this is a symptom of dementia where the person just doesn't take showers or bathe. Like Carol says, it is not unusual but it is impossible to live with.
My mom did it. There was a period of about 2 weeks that I realized I didn't hear the shower going anymore and that mom was getting ripe.
I had to deal with it because I don't do stink. Period.
It ended up with me understanding that she just couldn't do it for herself anymore and that I had to do it for her and I did. We got the shower chair so she wouldn't be afraid of falling in the shower and after a few times of me giving her the spa treament where I did her hair and a little makeup, she looked forward to the showers but it was a real fight in the beginning.
If you are the caregiver, you have to figure out a way to get them scrubbed, but they have to get clean because they can become ill, you will become ill and it's just no way to live.
I always used humor with my mom and she would end up laughing and that's the way I got her in the shower and did everything else I had to do.
In the meantime, use Febreeze!! Not Kidding!! that's what I did to mom, gave her the light misting and the next day she finally agreed to let me shower her. She acted like I was killing her the whole time but she came out all shiney on the hiney.
Good luck,
lovbob
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I work in a nursing home. Yes, this is incredibly common and a very aggravating one. Those who are still with it mentally, but is stubborn about taking a shower I will...

1. Ask them why they do not want a shower. Sometimes it's as simple as they just don't want their hair washed. OK fine, we won't wash your hair, but we do need to at least get your butt and pits.

2. I will tell them flat out they need to take a shower so they don't stink.

3. And if they have a relative that visits frequently, I will tell them "Your daughter (or wife, or whomever) will be upset if they come visit later, to find you unshowered and unshaven.

Those 3 tactics work 95% of the time. Now for those who have dementia and cannot be reasoned with, I set up the shower room with toiletries, clean clothes, EVERYTHING that is needed for their shower. Do not ask them if they want to take a shower, do not tell them it's time for a shower. I say nothing about a shower. I will lead them to the shower room, telling them something like "we need to change your pants because there is a stain on them". Once they are in there and we get their pants down, I will have them have a seat in the shower chair. I get the water going. When they ask what I'm doing, I'll tell them while we're in here 1/2 undressed, might as well get in a quick wash up.
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that is a hard one to answer since we are dealing with the same issue with our grandpa. He acts like he doesn't like that someone should be at the house when he takes a shower...but he won't take them because I think it's where he has the control of himself where others do not. I'm going to go over there and try and let him know that if he doesn't take a shower and properly clean himself, that living at home might not be something that he can still do...it's a form of self abuse...I believe he's depressed since his wife died alittle over a year ago. We are family but only through marriage to my husbands grandma...since she's gone...we really don't have any say, and his family doesn't tell us anything. We still visit him, and I believe that he would listen. You might just need to give subtle hints...like whats that smell? or maybe not so subtle. I don't know your relatives situation, but with ours it might just be time that he needs more round the clock care. I'm going to tell our grandpa that if he doesn't take care of himself, that he won't be able to stay living on his own...that the state could involve themself if they think he isn't taking care of himself. I hope that will kinda scare him into action...but he's stubborn and 96...so we'll see how that goes. It is really hard. Whatever you do...do it with love.
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Bobbie is our voice of reason -not bathing is very common in the elderly-I guess they just do not smell themselves but it needs to be addressed and you may have to tell him he will not be able to stay in his home if this is not taken care-someone somewhere might report the family to APS for negleting him-if he still refuses you might need to contact his family and let them know how concerned you are about this-I think the Febreeze is a great idea, would you let us know how things turn out this is a good teaching point because one of the first signs of dementia is not bathing or changeing their clothes and it is a good sign of things to come.
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Thank you all so much for your input! So much to consider and think about. That is very helpful! I think it may have to do with feeling safe and the heat issue. She is cold a lot and even though we have provided extra heat in her area, I think we need to address figuring out how to really heat up her bathroom where the shower is. Also I think a seat inside the shower might help too. We have a bar, but it may be time to get the seat going. I'm going to start looking into this asap.
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I would approach the matter with concern...such as...."Betty, I have noticed over the last few weeks an unusual body "scent", Have you changed soaps or your daily bathing routine? Is there anything I can do to offer assistance? Sometimes a sudden change in body odor can indicate a disease process and I would like to take you to the doctor for an exam." I would then have a professional address the importance of daily bathing and if they need assistance consider hiring a home health company to provide assistance if she is reluctant to have a family member assist. This is not uncommon in the elderly. As their senses change and lose of smell, they are often unaware that shortcuts in the shower or bath are effecting their body odor. However, beware that this could also indicate something more serious.
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I am having the same bathing/showering/clean clothes problem with my husband. I do my best to gather all the clothes while he is still asleep and get them in the washer before he is up. He absolutely refuses any help. Me or outside help. I'm at my wits end too. I won't live in a stinky environment either. I think my dogs are cleaner than he is at times. I fight this all the time. I have used a lot of what others are suggesting and getting nowhere. He will go into the bathroom and lock the door on me. If he does get in the shower he uses no soap. Believe me I can afford soap and there is plenty on the shelf. That is because he never uses it! I've even told him to wash with his shampoo which he will use. It is mild enough for your body too. Oh, by the way, I have removed the lock from the bathroom door. I feel like a salmon swimming up stream.
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bobbie reminded me of a point we deal with here. My grandfather has lost sense of time and added to not wanting to bath, he will Insist vociferously that "He JUST TOOK a bath/shower." My mother started putting the day he had a bath ON HIS Calendar so she can point to it. It does piss him off.."I know I KNOW YOU PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR!!" He will snap, but the fact is yes she did, and it means it has been such and such time since you had you bathe, period. He is of the form of Dementia that he thinks he has only not been driving for two years and has only been wearing that same shirt two days...when it has been more like ten and five...
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Going thru this now with my mom (87). She is very angry in her old age and difficult to talk to. We are at our whits end because even when I addressed her odor in a very calm sweet caring manner she became irate and said there is something wrong with MY nose...she does not smell. It is so bad when she gets out of my car, the odor lingers. In WalMart people stare because she smells up the entire isle. At a family event I overheard two men asking "is that you" and smelling their pits.....NOPE it is MY mom. I have no idea how to handle it because she was raised to conserve everything and water is no exception and she REFUSES to bathe more than once/twice a month. She washes her hair in the sink once a week and she will wear the same clothes 10 times before she washes them. I know she is beginning with dimentia but, I can't say anything cause she just explodes in anger. My next step is having her doctor tell her (unfortunately she bathes before her yearly physical so he may miss the stench). Ugh.
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