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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!

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She definitely needs more help. When my FIL was in an independent living, his situation was much as you have described. I washed all the stinky clothes (he was incontinent) and he would not shower. I had to clean poop off the walls and bring a rug washer in. It was awful. The difference was that the facility kept calling me up telling me it was unacceptable. We found him another place to live where he would have daily help. The people that work at the memory care unit are very experienced at getting a reluctant elder to get in the shower. We didn't ask him if he wanted to move, and we didn't tell him we were moving him until the day we showed up to move him. We told him we were there to move him to a new place. We let him believe the facility had kicked him out, so the blame was not pointed at us. He loves where he lives now, and he's always clean and well dressed. We are so relieved we chose to ignore his wishes and instead focus on his needs.
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I agree that she needs to be in a nh not been clean is not good for her health my mum was always so clean and thats how I noticed something wasnt right when she stopped washing and wearing makeup it just wasnt her way. Now she looks like down and out and smells awful BUT is washing once a week only because im here to make sure. Gosh she wouldnt wash if I wasnt here. Apart from the smell what about infections and her health?? She defintely needs to be in a home and cared for your sisters attitude stinks(pardon the pun!). Good luck and let us know what happens if we were all to just let them at it as its what they want we wouldnt need this site!
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It sounds like your sister is the one in charge (POA?) or you are letting her be. I think she has her head in the sand. Let her know your opinion counts and you should put your heads together to make joint decisions that are best for Mom, since she obviously is in denial of her own diminishing capabilities. Does Mom have sufficient finances to afford some paid caregiver assistance a few hours a day? If not, the doctor could write a script for home care and the nurse evaluator would come out and assess her needs and advise you what is covered by her medical insurance plan(s). An aide could help her get started in the morning, help her put on clean clothes, prepare her breakfast, and maybe make a sandwich for her to eat later for lunch. In time, as she gets to like and trust her caregiver/aide, she may let her help her get in the tub. If you do the laundry, the caregiver/aide could do some ironing. Plenty to do to assist Mom as well as keep her company. Do either of you live close enough to see that she has a meal every evening? Could one of the other residents bring up her meal from the facility dining room? Do either of you realize that you could be faulted for NOT taking a more proactive approach with your Mom? She is obviously in dementia, unsteady on her feet, not eating properly, and a danger to herself. Nobody in an independent living facility is going to tell you she has to move out until she starts wandering the halls or walking out in her underwear! They want her rent and it's not up to them to say move out without a really strong reason (like destroying property, or abusing or attacking other tenants). As for the showering, many elders, particularly those in dementia are afraid of the water and afraid of falling. She cannot bathe without assistance even if you could get her in the tub. Do you have a long rubber mat in the tub, and a shower chair, an extra rail attached to the edge of the tub? IF you and your sister could get together and coax her into letting both of you help her bathe, you all might feel better - anything that you could bribe her with? (grasping at straws on this one). Bottom line, she would be much better off in either an Assisted Living facility or even a nursing home. There are some small private NH's that are actually small group home settings with nursing care and aides for the residents. You have to look around. Have a chat with the doctor - get him on your side and let him tell Mom that it's time for her to live where there is assistance for her 24/7. He may tell you she actually needs 24/7 care because it's not safe to live at home alone any longer. (That was how I managed it- telling her the hospital doctor said it was necessary to go to rehab, and then the transition to NH was seamless - they just changed her room) . I honestly think it is time you and your sister make some practical and necessary decisions for your Mom. It's one thing to respect her wishes and her decisions, but certainly not if they are inappropriate or clearyly unwise. She is dependent on both of your for her safety and well-being whether she realizes it or not.
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My heart goes out to you because I was in your place over a year ago. I had POA. You need to start telling your Mom that she can no longer stay by herself and tell her she is going to have to move. I did this for about 4 months every time I visited my Mom which was every other day 45 minute drive one way. I found out thru "A Place for Mom" that I could move my ,mother into a very nice facility, pay out of pocket until I made her eligible for Medicaid (I also had to sign a paper stating she was going to return to her house) so that Medicaid would not count her home as an asset. 3 months after she was in the facility she qualified. My mother was adamant that she was not leaving her house and I just kept saying you cannot stay because I can no longer keep coming down and take care of you. I also at a Doctor's apt had the Doctor talk to her and tell her she needed more care. My husband one evening had to get very harsh with her, talked to her for about 20 minutes and went into detail on how hard this was for me. Finally, one day she said "I will go because I love you" I tell you those words just broke my heart. Today she is happy, the entertainer at the facility but she still asks me when she is going home and I just change the subject. She is much worse and I thank the Lord every day because if I had left her in the house I am sure she would have died by now. Good luck to your and God bless.
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I think you answered your own question in your profile when you said, " I just keep telling my children if I get like that, please put me in assisted living and get me on antidepressants." If your mom didn't have dementia, she'd probably wish the same thing for herself. She's not able to think clearly, so you and your sisters, as the responsible adults need to step in and help her, whether she wants it or not. If she didn't have dementia and just was stubborn, that would be a different story. But with dementia, she's not able to make good decisions for herself. She needs to be in a memory care/dementia unit, where they're used to dealing with issues like your mom has. You're not doing her any favors by letting her live the way she's living. It's not healthy for her or for you (from the stress it's giving you). I'd say bite the bullet and get her into a place where she can get some help.

I've learned over time that I can't honor my mom's wishes if they're not in her best interest. It was tough for me initially to make her do things she didn't want to do. There would be tears and arguments. And virtually all of the time when I do what is right for her, she's happy in the end with whatever it is (bathing her, getting her a perm, taking her out of her room). But if I ask her what she wants, she wouldn't want ANY of it and would argue/cry about it.

Good luck to you and your sister. You've definitely got your hands full with your mom.
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Who has Power of Attorney? Whoever does is responsible for caring for your Mom. She is clearly not able to care for herself anymore and should not be living alone. If any place, she really needs to be in a NURSING HOME - not even an assisted living facility.
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