My mother lives in an independent living facility although she has increasing dementia and should be in assisted living, even fellow residents have told me she shouldn't be there. She refuses to move, says she will kill herself, and my sister supports her wishes to remain where she is. She has not taken a shower in years, only bathes in the sink, and now at 98, she is beginning to smell and her skin is like alligator hide since she obviously doesn't wash her feet, legs or back. How do we get her to bathe, at least once in a while? Do we threaten to hire someone to come in and force her, or physically undress her and put her in the shower, etc? My sister insists we should let her live her life and not interfere until the facility says she has to leave. I don't think that will happen until she (very frail) falls and breaks a hip and ends up bedridden and will spend her end days in pain and frustration.
Mom's clothes are filthy and stained and I have to make her undress and bring things home to de-stain, wash and iron. She will only wear blouses and slacks and always a jacket so her clothing care is more time consuming than it should be. I do all her shopping and finances as she is no longer able to figure out how to do anything but the simplest thing. My sister cleans her apartment. Mom can't be trusted with any medication or decisions, and we periodically take laxatives away from her as she is bowel obsessed. The trouble is she is healthy, except for being almost deaf and more and more senile and confused. She barely eats, a few bites here and there, barely drinks any liquid (is dehydrated), can't cook except coffee and soup and no longer goes to the facility restaurant for dinner. She is stubborn, refuses to listen (mostly doesn't remember 5 minutes ago) depressed, negative to the point of driving us, and friends crazy and totally vain and self absorbed. She refuses a walker and won't use the cane I bought and has fallen several times. She is very unsteady, but insists in walking up and down the stairs to get her hair done every week. Trying to convince her to use the elevator is hopeless (she probably can't figure out how to use it anyway).
What would the rest of you do? I don't know whether I should just sit back and do what I can and let things happen or make a fuss to get her the oversite she should have. Help! I love Mom, but she is driving us crazy and I know she can't help it. And she has to bathe soon!