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My mother wears her clothes and puts them back in the closet dirty. She refuses to let me wash anything other than 1 pair of pajamas and socks that are in the hamper from the entire week....Lots of things are stained and have been worn many times. Her closet is starting to have an odor . She has moderate dementia and is in an assisted living. She is also now frequently refusing to take baths and is becoming a bit nasty with the aids on her floor. I have tried various ways to deal with this such as bringing a dry cleaning bag and telling her that I would take some clothes to the dry cleaners and sneaking some clothes out but she is adament that she wants me to leave the clothes alone because she "doesn't perspire or get dirty anymore" Any suggestions?

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Thanks to all for the great advice and all the warm wishes
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Jolly,
You have an excellent attitude and give warm and comfortable advice. I did not post this thread, but I did appreciate your response for it's supportive, strong and positive point of view. Thanks!
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Lots of excellent information here! I have to give a hug to the folks that are struggling with this though. I am one of those direct people and I am not afraid to stand up to my mom when I know it's the right thing to do. I do, however, pick my battles so major things like bathing and clean clothes I hit head but I don't worry about the small stuff.

Not everyone has that ability to jump in and take charge from someone who previously held the "head of the family" role. I have four siblings that all will tell you that they could not do what I am doing. One brother even says that if he told Mom some of the things I have to say, she would just slap him. That said with humor but his point was taken - they struggle changing that parent-child relationship.

So, for those of you struggling, take small steps until you feel more comfortable. Pick your battles and most of all, when you say that something must be done, such as bathing, follow through. If you waver, you're dead and they won't let you take charge. They are like children.

Good luck!
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If she is in assisted living, aren't they helping her to get dressed, and throwing her clothes in the laundry? She is paying good money for her care there, but they are not helping her when it comes to wearing clean clothes. I would speak to the nurse or social worker. If you are the one doing her laundry, you have the right to launder what you know to be dirty. if she tells them not to throw her clothes in the laundry, she has the right. But if you are the one doing her laundry, you have the right to take her dirty laundry. If she won't let you, then have the AL do the laundry. If they have to do it, they will throw clothes into the laundry daily. To be wearing dirty clothes or keeping dirty clothes around is a matter of health and hygiene, and there are health care standards about that.

My relative had been in a NF for 2 1/2 months recovering from a hip fracture. She has been home for almost 1 yr. She is not able to bathe or dress herself, so she has caregivers. They bathe her every two days. She is afraid to get into the tub, so they give her a sponge bath. She too does not feel she perspires,so she wears her clothes for 2 days, unless she spills food on them. She generally wears a "shirtsaver" bib, but not always. So if she does spill something, they or I will thow the item in the clothes hamper. I take her laundry home with me every few days. I will give away anything that no longer fits to Goodwill and throw away anything that is shredding. I will replace anything that I get rid of. Also she only has seasonally appropriate clothes in her closet. Her summer capris are in another closet. Come spring, her sweat pants will go in that closet.
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I think it is a bit easier if you are in their home or yours. I am guessing you have to take the clothes with you to wash then return them the next visit. A bit different.

As for the shower, I now have to help Mom the entire time. I have found that getting pump shampoo & conditioner helps. It allows me to hold on to her and still get the shampoo without using 2 hands. Even better if you can use the shampoo & conditioner in one, with a pump.

I know it isn't easy to tell your parent what to do, but I have found that I just do what needs to be done and she doesn't complain. Of course everyone is different. Hope you got some tips that will help.
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I think it is a bit easier if you are in their home or yours. I am guessing you have to take the clothes with you to wash then return them the next visit. A bit different.

As for the shower, I now have to help Mom the entire time. I have found that getting pump shampoo & conditioner helps. It allows me to hold on to her and still get the shampoo without using 2 hands. Even better if you can use the shampoo & conditioner in one, with a pump.

I know it isn't easy to tell your parent what to do, but I have found that I just do what needs to be done and she doesn't complain. Of course everyone is different. Hope you got some tips that will help.
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Just take the clothes away after she falls asleep and wash them. Why is this so difficult? You may put them back on their hangars in the closet, if you wish. Take charge!! You're the one now.
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I have to bathe my mil twice a week now or she wouldn't take one herself for months. I just let her wear the clothes she has on between baths. It just doesn't do a whole lot of good to stand there while she tells me she doesn't get dirty since she goes no where. When we take her out she DOES have to have a bath and clean clothes regardless of what day it is. She is very lax in hand washing....when asked if her depends are wet or dry I now get an "i don't know" then she sticks her hand down her pants and squeezes. And then gets mad cuz I make her wash her hands in------ horrors.........warm water and soap!!!!!
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I appreciate all the good information in the above posts about getting washing done and taking showers (and washing her hair). Mother has recently entered into the stage of needing help with washing and showering/hair, but at her convenience, not mine. I'll try the one day a week about her shower...pick a day and that is shower day. Of course, she forgets what day it is, but I'll try it. Thanks for the help. :)
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Just as with children who "don't want to do something"--TAKE CHARGE. Don't waste your time worrying about if they are going to BE ANGRY! So what?!
Just make a statement: "Mother, I am taking your clothes to wash them. You don't want to embarrass yourself by smelling."
(My Mother is always referring to being embarrassed about something, so I turn her own words on her. Works every time.) Of course, I am a very direct person, because I value my own life and time, so I don't worry about offending, since I do so much for her already!
Good Luck:)))
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Just take the clothes and was them...end of story.
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For many, clothes mean security and telling people that they or their clothes smell or aren't clean can be offensive even if they have dementia. Basically your telling them that they can't take care of themselves and they are losing their independence. You can try going out and buying new clothes (on sale) and when Mom is at breakfast put the new clean clothes in her closet and remove the old dirty clothes. Or bring them in the bags and tell her that it's a Christmas/birthday gift.Try to buy outfits in colors that she currently has and likes so you can swap them out.
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do not give her a choice, just take the clothes and wash them, if she gets mad, she will get over it, tell her it is unsantairy to have dirty clothes and an odor in her room, My mom lives with me and I do her laundry, also bathe her every three days whether she wants to or not, they may get mad but it doesn't last long, lots of hugs
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Like they say; Just Do It.
Keep a sense of humor going no matter how mad she gets but be clear that you simply have to do the laundry. Period.
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What I found with my mom was that she really had just too many clothes. Which meant just too, too many choices which required her to think and make decisions and physically go into drawers and closets, etc.which is just so hard for them to do.
She would wear the same things over and over even if they were dirty.

She did not want to get rid of anything even if was beyond wear (e.g. elastic rotten/worn out). We got her grandson to tell her
there was a "clothing drive" at his school and could she help him. Got rid of the majority of stuff and she was happy to do it. If I had suggested it, no way, but beloved grandson, of course.

Then we culled it down to a dz. outfits for warm & for cold that she can get in & out of without lots of buttons. The rest got
into boxes in her closet as she will NOT get rid of them - that's
fine and as others have said you choose your fights and this
one ain't worth it.

Also one of the staff @ her IL suggested that we get rid of
heavy coats, as it's just too hard for them to take off a hanger and put her arms through and then put on a hanger and lift
to put in a closet. And to get something in a bright color
when we got her a new coat (no black or dark tones)

We got a super lightweight raincoat with a heavy duty zip liner with raglan sleeves (bigger arm hole so it's easier). The zip liner stays in for cold months and out once it's warm. Bright purple. She can always find it and be spotted when they go
shopping......
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Perhaps you could have a different family member take her out for a day or a weekend and you could just take the clothes and wash them. I worked in home care for the elderly for years and it can be very difficult. If she is becoming, where she will not cooperate with the aides to give her proper care then you may have to consider moving her to a home that deals with her specific issues. Assisted Living is not really equipped to handle people like that unless they specialize in dementia and alheizmers patients. I know it is hard. Hard for her and hard for you. Good luck to you and God Bless!
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Do the laundry when she is eating or bathing.
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I had a similar situation with my mother. She lives with me though, so I can monitor things better than if she were living in assisted living. One thing you might want to try is purchasing similar outfits and marking them somehow so you know which one she had already had on and can remove that one for laundering. I let my mom wear the same clothes for a couple of days, except for underwear which I change every morning. As far as showers go, I have read that sometimes people with dementia are frightened of bathing, either because of the noise of the water, fear of falling, they are embarrassed, etc. My mom had a similar issue and I purchased a shower chair for her to help bath her. She feels much safer, plus I help her because she doesn't really know what to do to wash herself. If she is embarrassed you might suggest they allow her to cover up while being bathed -- I've even seen outfits you can buy for this. Hope this is helpful to you and Good Luck!
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Perhaps tell her the assisted living home told you YOU have to wash the clothes every second Wednesday (or soemthing like that), or they will do it for you. She might not want other people touching her clothes. Or, does she go to the dining hall for lunch and dinner? Go take them then. Just an idea. Good luck, Stick ups fresheners are also good! But that's not a solution I know. :)
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I think that if she has dementia, she won't miss much if you sneak it out of the room, while she sleeps to wash it. Bring it back and slip it back into her closet. Maybe you can also buy an air freshener that does inside of her closet. Napping is the best time to do her laundry.
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Mom has dementia but is at home so it makes washing her clothes easier. She used to take the stuff out of the hamper so i had to put it directly into the washer and start it. I help her get dressed in the morning and if I don't remove the clothes that are dirty she'll stick them back on. I don't debate the issue anymore. It's time for a shower and lead her there and start taking the clothes off and in she goes. She will argue if I ask, but not if we do. Installing a hand held shower made the process much easier.

Good luck
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When you tell her she stinks or the clothes stink, and one of them must be washed, she will blame it on the clothes. Then you can suggest she bathe while the clothes are washing just to make sure the odor is taken care of. She will do the bath and the laundry. Remember, old people get cold and do not like baths...keep them very short, not steamy, the Get in Get out rule or the rest of the day you will have a limp person passed out in the chair with no more energy to get up.
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MERIDA:

I've met many people who assume their "uniforms" are still clean because they don't get out of the house much. Leaving things sitting in the hamper for over a week, however, doesn't make them ready to wear again.

When you feel you're getting mad, check out Alzheimer's.org for tips on how to handle things out of the ordinary and cope with behavioral changes.

Good luck my friend, and keep us posted.

-- ED
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I can only speak from the perspective of my mom living with me. We went through the same arguments when she moved in and still do seven months later but seldom now. Because I am the 24x7 caregiver, I control the schedule each day and for the week but I am extremely consistent. A consistent schedule is key.

Laundry is done on Monday (by me) and I take all the dirty clothes. Early on I would go through her closet while she was in the bathroom or snoozing and get clothes I knew she had worn already. I used the same opportunity to get rid of clothes that didn't fit or were to far gone.

We had major battles initially about bathing but with perseverence and using her mother's teaching as the argument, I told Mom she had to bathe once a week. The dementia, however, was an issue because she no longer knew how to bathe without supervision and she would lose time and say she just bathed the day before. It's been a long battle but it goes pretty smoothly these days.

Something that helped, but was a battle in itself, was moving her into Depends and also finding out that she could no longer properly care for her feet. Again, standing firm, I made it through the battles and each day now I care for her feet and change her Depends without a battle. She is not yet incontinent but has some spotting issues so the Depends are a Godsend. In addition, when she does have incontinence problems, we'll already have her in them.

I've learned through all this to pick my battles. She doesn't get hot and sweaty nor does she do any dirty work so I let her wear an outfit for 2 to 3 days. I am monitoring the condition of her clothing on a daily basis when I take care of her feet and change her Depends so if they need changing (for example, food stains), I do it then and put them right into the dirty clothes. I make sure I show Mom the stain so she will know why I'm getting new clothes out. I also get out fresh clothes on each bath day so she ends up wearing a new outfit at least 3 times each week.

All this said, again I am coming from the perspective of being with her 24x7. Maybe others who have dealt closely with their loved ones in facilities can chime in with what worked for them.
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My mother does not like to take a shower anymore. We have found that if we encourage her the moment she awakes, she is more likely to comply with the caregiver about showering.
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I sympathize with you. When I tried to tactfully mention anything having to do with "better hygiene" to either of my parents, I met with resistance. It must be a common reaction. I think you need to get creative to get the problem solved. It never works to be pushy, I've noticed. You say your mother is in assisted living. Is there a way you could get a staff person from her facility to assist you with this? Like have the staff person come in and say she is here "to pick up some laundry" or some such thing. Or else if your mother naps for an extended period, maybe you could launder her clothes while she's napping and then place them folded on her dresser afterward. Maybe, just maybe, she'd be happy once they were all washed, dried and folded. Good luck.
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