Getting Mom to shower. Advice?

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We care for my 89 yr old mother in law and she is a wonderful, sweet, delightful old soul. She is on a walker but gets around and does normal things like some laundry, cooking, despite some dementia setting in. She has always taken very good care of herself and has a safe and handicapped bathroom. But I notice this weekend as I was close to her a slight odor. She doesn't shower every day but she doesn't do anything to get sweaty or dirty but I know at least every other day should be the norm. I think the odor could have been urine. She wears depends and is always conscious of being close to the bathroom if needed but I think this is more from not taking a shower than anything else.
I used the excuse this morning that I was taking her to get her hair cut after work and she needed to shower and wash her hair.
But after this, how does one handle this? She would be simply mortified if she thought she smelled but I know this can be a problem with the elderly. Suggestions?

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Let me add that there is an "old people smell" that really is a change in their body chemistry. It is kind of a musty smell, I think. I tried giving mom chlorophyll tablets as recommended by some on this list, but it turned her "output" green and scared her, so I stopped. I really couldn't tell much difference in her body odors anyway. We do have the usual arguments against the shower and aim for once weekly with daily wipe downs.
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I would also do things like I am washing light colored sweaters I am going to run up and get yours cause I only have half a load of wash. Slowly I went thru her whole closet so I knew everything was clean. p.s. I don't have a problem recycling but I think mom was forgetting what clothes she wore and by this point I found out she had cataracts and couldn't see what was dirty.
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When we first noticed that my mom was slipping mentally, my sister was in charge of bathing and I did cleaning and meals. My sister would tell me mom showered last night and I would knew she still had in makeup from the day before. We found out she would go into bathroom and run water but never get bathed. Mom was not a shower person. I took care of my grandmother before this so I would say I know getting showered is not easy, let me was your feet and back and you do the rest. As long as the water was not splashing in her face we were good. Bubbles in tub to soak feet, heater in bathroom, robe ready, crèam ready with the promise of a foot message and pedicure when done. Foot doctors make house calls even if not homebound. I let mom was her privates and front and would just wash back and butt cheeks, later progressed to a better wash. Help a little at a time and progress from there. You help me with washing clothes, let me help you. Definitely smell the crotch of pants, they may look clean but smell dirty. Good luck.
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Thank you for your response. She lives at home with us. She has a slight touch of dementia but it seems to be only repeating herself. She is an avid reader, as I said, she can cook, she does her own laundry, she brings her garbage out to us. I check and clean her bathroom and never find laundry piled up or garbage cans full. I guess I am keenly aware of how sensitive this is because she is still so aware of so many things. But I do know she does not have a sense of smell so she cant smell what I a smelling. But perhaps, the dementia is getting worse and she is dreading the showers as you mentioned. I can honestly say I don't keep track of when she showers because she always looks clean and has on fresh clothes but perhaps the whole cleaning routine is getting away from her. Thanks for your feedback.
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The Assisted living (AL) facilities near me try for 2 showers a week. My MIL smells as well. She refuses the showers and her whole room smells from the discarded depends and clothes that have been leaked on. The dementia makes seniors afraid of the shower and they forget when they need one. Your background is sketchy, is MIL at her home, your home or in a facility? Is there someone to assist her with the showers? Who sweeps through and makes sure the garbage is emptied? That the clothes are washed. (My MIL puts them back on the next day despite the fact they were 'leaked on'. ) I sweep through her place when she is at lunch and throw everything in the hamper. I empty the waste baskets. I once found 8 soaking wet depends in the trash (and for this we pay close to $7000/month!!!) Dementia causes confusion and an inability to do for oneself. Family needs to take an active role whether the person is in her own home, your home or a facility. Learn the artof 'gentle story telling' and master it. There are lots of reasons to get showered: Hair or doctor appointments, going out, religious services, an expected visitor or just that it is so hot and you don't want her to get any heat rashes.

When we moved my MIL from independent living to AL, we filled 23 contractor size bags and sent them to the dumpster. They contained ripped and stained clothing. Blood soaked (now dired) items, clothes that wouldn't have fit her in the past 5 years, etc. You will slowly do more and more for her albeit behind the scenes. Good luck .
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