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It's been 1 mo. & she fights us verbally all the way. She says that she takes sponge baths daily, but the wash cloths are seldom used, staying dry for days at a time; yet she swears that she's cleaning herself daily. I think that she THINKS that she cleans herself, but in reality, she really isn't. We get tired of arguing with her & trying to explain that she needs to take a real bath at least once a week. She is very stubborn & we can't make her bathe. She wants to be in control over everything, & she becomes very hard to deal with for days after an argument. Any suggestions would be helpful because we will probably not put her into a nursing home unless her health diminishes seriously.

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Take a step back.

"She needs to take a real bath at least once a week." She does? Why? What will happen if she doesn't? Honestly, this is one area where whatever you can persuade her to agree to is going to have to be good enough.

You and I shower or bathe daily, more or less, I expect, and feel wriggly pretty quickly if we don't. But for your MIL, normal is whatever routine she's established for herself over, say, the last twenty years. She's comfy like that. Any changes you still want to introduce have to have an upside for her, and be gone about carefully.

Tired of arguing with her? My goodness, I bet you are! So would I be. It is an exercise in futility.

Instead, concentrate on any real problems this is creating. If - frankly - she smells, you could supply her with baby wipes to use after she's been to the bathroom, for example. You can knock politely on the door while she's in there and ask if you can lend a hand with her back (everyone likes having their back done, don't they?). If it's a privacy issue, consider getting a professional caregiver in specifically to assist her with bathing, because a nurse in a uniform is much less threatening than your DIL when it comes to getting naked. One thing I did for my own peace of mind, rather than any real reason, was ask a nurse to check my mother's skin integrity; again, your MIL might be more cheerful about discussing issues like that with a nurse than with you.

Has she only been living with you for a month? That's very early days. Give her time, seize opportunities as they present themselves, and above all don't worry about bathing to schedule - just keep encouraging her and watch out for specific problems.

Also - only mentioning this because you haven't in your post, I'm sure it will have crossed your mind - do check that the bathroom is warm, easy *for her* to use, and as safe as you can make it. Small problems can be big issues when you're 93.
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Yes short of the team of wild horses mentioned above forget that. One of the main things I have mentioned previously is the question of privacy. Do not strip anyone naked and expect them to just stand there obediently while you hose them down it ain't gonna happen. Only expose the part you are actually washing at the time and wrap the rest in large warm towells. Sitting at the sink is less threatening than standing. Have her undress but leave the panties on and quickly put on a terry cloth robe. In the bathroom open the front of the robe and wash the front. Pull down the panties far enough to just do the front not between the legs unless sh allows or hand her the cloth to do that her self shielding her privates from your eyes with a towel which she will then use to wipe while you avert your eyes!!!!!!!!
next do the arms one at a time leaving the second in the robe. Give her a big warm towel to cover the front and remove the robe. Wash the back and pull the panties down. now you can do a good job on the privates from behind and check for any problems. Put the robe back on and remove the panties and replace with clean. Have her sit and the legs should be no problem, offer to shave if she would like. Pay very careful attention to the feet and between the toes. note any fungus and treat with OTC or visit the Dr. the whole family does not need to catch athletes foot.
You have only been careing for her for a month so give it time and she will learn to trust you. go as far as you can and she will allow the first few times. Be sure to check any skin folds like under the breast because they are prime area for yeast infections. if you find anything when you have finished be sure to wash your hands well and scrub under your finger nails to avoid catching anything your self.
if all else fails it may be easier to start by doing it in bed so she can clutch the bedclothes up to her chin and you can do the dirty dead completely under the covers. privacy is extremely important with the elderly whether it be family or professionals. Seems to be lacking in many professionals these days.
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Give her a comfy, warm and cozy sponge bath by the kitchen sink. (More room than the bathroom.) Promise her a pretty if she'll "just try it out once." Maybe HER pretty is a chocolate sundae from McDonald's or a piece of pizza or whatever.

For her hair, use a big turkish towel around her neck and a pretty wet washcloth. You might try one of the no-rinse body washes available at the drug store so you don't have to worry about getting all the soap out of her hair. (I've never tried it that way, but it might work.) Use a leave-in conditioner. In short, make her smell and feel reeeeeal purdy. ;)

Assuming you can get her to agree (biiiig assumption, ha!) use a fragrant special lotion all over and powder her up. Put on her prettiest outfit or robe and call it a day.

P.S. -- She doesn't need a bath or shower. A sponge bath is just fine. Mom wouldn't take a bath or shower if a team of wild horses tried to drag her in, but she loves-loves-loves her spongebath.
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GRAB BARS, lots of grab bars all around the tub. If you can afford renovations, a walk in shower with a built in bench. Get an OT to assess the situation and make recommendations.
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I know exactly what you're going through. Long story short, I bought a very nice hand-held shower head with many settings and found a decent tub chair at a garage sale I'd had for awhile. I made things cozy and warm. We had success today. Every single day is different with mom. Yesterday was h*ll what with her refusing to drink or eat anything (yet not nauseated or feverish, just no appetite maybe) and no meds. Today so far, the polar opposite. She allowed me to help her today with a complete shower bath in the tub, after months of pleading, threatening, etc. Like your MIL, my mom would swear up and down she'd given herself a sponge type bath yet I could see no wet washcloths or soap. I told her we'd do this once a week at least. Countrymouse, when they stick to high heaven ya gotta do something, ha-ha. Now for the teeth (sigh).
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I think many of the above suggestions are good. A shower chair snd grab bars are a must. I also use a portable heater in the bathroom to make toasty warm. I would fill tub with bubble bath and put shower chair in. Kept robe on while I washed legs and feet, between each toe a must. Use plastic glove with liquid soap was easiest. I would then give mom a new soapy wash rag and have her wash her private area herself, put a towell over her lap. Then I would take robe off, quickly do her back while she did front. Shower was over in five minutes and mom was wrapped back up in a large towel. I put dry robe back on before getting off shower chair . This helped in keeping her dignity. In the beginning my mom was also opposed and did the Same dry wash rag routine. I started slowly with lets soak your feet and polish toes. Use the no rinse shampoo. Soak hands snd do a manicure . Put nice cream on arms snd legs. Start from there and let her get comfortable, hopefully progressing to the sponge baths above then to a shower. I put make up on my mom everyday cause she always had lipstick snd her eyebrows on because she was unable to do this for herself.
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make bathroom warm if its cold and warm up washcloth w/soap or bodywash in sink filled w/warm water. try making it always on the same day like Saturday if she goes to church on Sunday or if she gets out of the house on a certain day. we have the same problem-if she has dementia they don't like to bathe. we put a bit of toothpaste on brush everynite b/c she won't do brushing so we know if she did or not by looking at brush and just not wetting it.
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As far as the arguments go: Don't argue! It will only alienate your mother further and widen the gap between you. Never try to reason with an unreasonable person. From personal experience I can tell you it will make you nuts and take a toll on your health.
Please reference ALL video seminars on YouTube by Teepa Snow. Your mom is 93 and no doubt is suffering from a loss of mental capacity. She is losing control and is fighting with you to retain it. Of course you are not responsible for this loss but chances are she will transfer that responsibility to you. She may very well be terrified of this loss and will lash out because of it. My mom is 94 and has fought me tooth and nail for 10+ years. Teepa Snow's video seminars have probably saved my life and my relationship with my mom. Also reference Jo Huey's 10 Absolutes in dealing with the elderly.
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I know this is an issue. I think being kind and gentle with your words is helpful... I also think being respectful of how humiliating this is, think about how you would feel if one of your children was trying to bath you. Offer to help, then pamper her somewhat MOST people respond well to a little TLC... wash her back gently... rub lotion on her back and feet things like that. I have had to help my Mom and she responds well to those things. If indeed she is getting smelly and we have had that issue too, I usually just try to tell her gently or you could kid with her and tell her she is getting gamey... With my Grandfather I would tell him you are starting to look like Gabby Hayes and then he would let me shave him.I think the words we use and the tone of voice make a big difference! If you get confrontational then will get their back up and you will have a battle on your hands... take care
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All excellent responses here from those who know.
Start with a good sturdy shower bench first. $80 at most med supply stores. She can sit on the bench outside the tub & slide in on the bench. Very important when one has even the slightest fear of falling.
A hand held shower head is also a must. She can do some or all of the shower herself in this manner. As time progresses you will do more and eventually all. A period of adjustment is in order and your bathroom is unfamiliar.
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