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My mother has bathed about twice in the past two weeks and never washed her hair in that time. I just got out and asked her if she would like to take a bath and wash her hair. It turned into a screaming tantrum. She refused to wash her hair and said she would take a bath later, which means she is NOT taking a bath. She goes out into the yard and works around enough that she does need a bath just to at least feel better if not clean but it is like pulling teeth to get her to do it. There is always an excuse of, I'm tired, I'll do it later, I took one yesterday. Washing her hair she says, no I do not wash it in the shower, I wash my hair in the kitchen sink, so I tell her okay lets go and i will help you. That does not work she begins yelling. In reality she DOES wash it in the shower NOT in the kitchen sink. About 40 years ago she washed it in the kitchen sink but never since way back then.

This is an ongoing problem that I have tried to handle every way I can and nothing works. Today I finally told her that if she continued to refuse to bathe and wash her hair, of her own free will, then I will have to hire a home care nurse to come and help her. World War III broke out and i was called every name in the book, and told that "if you even try it, you will find your a--- sitting out in the street looking for a new place to live!"

I do not push her to bathe on a daily basis or even every other day because of her tantrums. I can't take it and neither can my daughter. I don't know that bathing every day is a necessity but honestly can you all give me your opinions on how often she should reasonably be expected to bathe. Prior to the dementia she bathed every single day, not any more.

I am her 24/7 caregiver, daughter and DPOA. I live in her home with my daughter and care for her without any compensation and I actually pay for household expenses.

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Replacing the shower head with a hand held hose is great, and the most simple one with the white flexible hose are easiest to hold and use, rather than the metal hose with larger heads and more settings to spray. That way Mom can spray her own privates though I spray the rest while she washes. One of the principles of this challenge is that dementia patients need cueing way before they need the actual help to do the actions. This was frustrating to me because I am still sure she could do this independently, but she totally needs the cueing for every step along the way. Another thing she often says is "oh I can do this" and what works best is "I don't mind helping" when its obvious she does need the assist such as adjusting the flow or temp. She has to have someone right there the entire time. And it has to end with something she likes such as lotion on her legs, or having her eyebrows drawn on.
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Ok so getting this shower thing down is halfway then the water on she tries to leave neked not even realizing it. So then it getting get in the shower and sat... Then it's gettin her privates cleaned ... Total defiant resistance... help any ideas that are better for this
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My Mom also was reluctant to shower but I believe in honesty and informed her that we humans are stinky creatures and as long as she pees, poops and sweats she needs to shower at least twice a week! She has to be reminded of this but it gets her in the shower. She's adamant though that her hair not get wet, so we compromised and she goes to the beauty shop once a week for a wash and set. This approach has worked for us. Man, I hope when I get old I don't lose the love of my daily shower. It's such a nice way to start the day.
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Twice a week, regardless of whether Mom's washing her hair, i use a dry shampoo. She loves having her hair brushed as the crown of her head itches. [i understand this could be due to neurological changes in general]. i use either Herbal Essences spray-on [wonderful scent] and just brush out the flaking. Her hair smells very fresh, and the loose skin comes out easily. Also, there's a more pricey medical foam shampoo in a pump can, that you just scrub around and wipe out with a dry cloth. Mom's scalp has become a bit too sensitive for that motion, and she tolerates the spraying of Herbal Essences [like a cat, cringes at the sudden motion, despite being prep'd for it]. i'm awfully glad the pharmacist guided me toward the HE product vs. the medical foam. It does a really good job. It's very much worth a try [about $7 a spray bottle] and i hope it helps!
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Most elders, whether or not the have dementia or not should shower or bathe 2 times a week to make sure all the sweat and dirt if off them. I think that's the schedule in the nursing homes as well. If you have a garden tub or lucky enough to have a tub with jets in it, tell her she is getting her "spa" treatment with bubble baths. Sometimes just soaking in soapy water will clean them. Use candles or flameless candles to set the mood and let her soak. You can also use waterless shampoo, or dry shampoo. If she resists the washing of the hair, ask her if you can just brush her hair then. Stand behind her and sprinkle on the dry powder and give her a head massage to work the powder in and brush it out. It helps remove the dandruff, oils and excess dirt if any if there. You can wash the hair this way until her regular "hair appointment" where she will get a full wash and blow dry. My dad tried that on me when he was living with me years ago. He decided one day that he no longer needed a bath or shower because he wasn't sweating any more. Well, he was and I could smell him after several days. I would just tell him "today is shower day" and if I got any flak from him, I would have to call my brother to come help me. Dad always did what my brother told him to do so he would just put him in a plastic chair in the tub and give him the portable shower head, washcloth and soap and told him "either you do it or I'll do it" so he would do it. Once or twice a week is sufficient for older people. They don't work up a sweat like we do when we're younger. I think having the chair in the tub helped a lot because I really think he was worried about falling since he had fallen before. Good luck stressed52, I hope you have found the right timing for your mom and it's working now. It's really like taking care of a 2 year old sometimes isn't it?
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I am grateful when she accepts once or twice a week, and that requires a lot of concessions on the financial end. We have had to hire an outside companion at $30/hr with a 3hr minimum just to get a shower or whirlpool bath done one day, and a trip to the hairdresser another day. She insists on that hairdresser trip even though we call the place "Zina's Zombie hair salon with Marilla the Mortician" because her hair looks so terrible and laquered up. But at least it is washed and she loves that outing, and Mom thinks it looks great!
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We currently have an aide through home health and I learned from her how to quickly bathe mom, out of the shower, in wheelchair or in hospital bed.

TIPS: Use hand towels instead of bath towels. Keep various body parts covered so LO doesn't get cold. Portable heaters are a great help, preferably oscillating heater to avoid direct heat (which is too much). Wash and dry each area instead of waiting to dry after total bath. Keep hand towel in place until ready to wash then dry off and put towel back over area. Gloves diminish your sensitivity to heat and cold. Closely monitor heat level.

MORE TIPS: If in bed, use bath towels from dryer. One under body. One over body. Low lights. Soft music. Talk calmly and slowly. Talk about something else or warn as you touch body depending on LO awareness level and demeanor. Paper bathing dresses or shorts are available online if showering. (run Google search). Shower chair helpful. Use detaching arm, rain shower head if possible (Bed Bath & Beyond). Shower shoes for traction (also BBB).

OPTION # 1 (my preference) = No Rinse Cleaning & Deodorizing Bathing Wipes (soft, pre-moistened cloths provide convenient bathing alternative) (www.norinse.com) = CleanLife Products (800.223.9348). Cloths made with Rayon/Poly mix. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. Aloe Vera Enriched - No Alcohol. UPC # 0 75244 01000 9. Package of 8; heat in microwave 15 seconds then test and heat in 5 to 10 second increments, if needed until appropriate temp or use at room temp; package shows how to use, but general rule = 1 cloth for body quadrant (in order of use): (1) Face (avoid eyes), Neck, Chest (incl boobies) (2) Left Arm (3) Right Arm (4) Perineum = privates = let LO handle if able. (5) Left Leg + Feet (6) Right Leg + Feet (7) Back (8) Buttocks.

ACTIONS: Discard each cloth after bathing designated area. Bada bing - done deal!

OPTION # 2 = Plastic bowl of warm water + body wash and shampoo liquid formula + bath cloth.

ACTIONS: Use above tips. Soak bath cloth. Wring out almost completely. Bathe body quadrants as in Option # 1. Rinse cloth well each time and bath quadrant again. Dry each area.

ADD'L INFO: Watch Teepa Snow videos on bathing. Twice a week is plenty.

SHAMPOO: Soaking wet cloth but not dripping. Soak scalp until wet, but not dripping. Cradle cap - warm to hot, as much as possible. Leave in place. When done with loose hair, use thin gloves. Scrub w/ nails as much as possible to remove cradle cap. Can also use comb to scrub scalp and loosen cradle cap. If LO can tolerate, soak w/ Head & Shoulders instead of bath and shampoo liquid formula. Remember, everything incl scalp is much more tender than yours.

ACTIONS: Wash rest of hair (in quadrants) in same manner. Rinse cloth, soaking wet w/ clear water from 2nd bowl. Once rest of hair is clean, go back to scalp. Use detangling comb to comb out water into towel around neck. Use towel to squeeze and rub dry. Finally, if LO can tolerate, use hair dryer on lowest heat. Stay away from neck + other skin = TENDER.

Hope this has been helpful!!
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I'm on vacation and my sister has taken over for me, keeping an eye on Mom in AL. I'm gone 4 days, and sis goes to see Mom and she promptly collapses and has to be taken to ER. After an all day vigil - they send sis home and the AL calls about 9pm. She is now back in AL - she has a UTI. Not surprising since she doesn't bathe, hasn't showered in years. Apparantly they finally talked her into letting them give her a shower - but, too late - her filthiness (and she was beginning to stink) has resulted in the UTI. Sis went back the next day to check on her and she got us usual ration of complaints - hates it there, wants her own apt, wants to cook her own meals.............sigh................and she is milking it for all its worth - they are bringing her meals to her room until she feels better...........sigh...............I am NOT going home!
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I think this is a big problem for all of Us Caregiver's. Trying to encourage Our Love One to take a shower. Mom is 86 years, and was diagnosed with Al/s 21/2 years ago. Prior to diagnosis Mom bathed six nights a week, and changed Her under clothes every day. Now I'm struggling to get Mom to take one shower in two weeks. I would never force Her, but I try encouraging. It's very embarrassing for Me as many Family members call to visit at the weekends, and of course I'd wish for Mum to look Her brightest and very best. Through My own research I discovered that Alzheimer' Sufferers cannot see water..this may be part of the problem.
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Stressed, moms doc recommended head and shoulders for cradle cap. I used baby oil first and fine tooth comb to loosen. Leave shampoo on head for at least 15 min then rinse. Told to do 2x per week till gone. It was gone after 2 weeks. Good luck.
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Amy, great idea, something to calm her before shower!
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Stressed, my mom had the cradle cap in the top of her head and behind her ears. I would put a little baby oil in her and comb with a fine tooth comb to get as much out as possible before washing. Dictir told me to leave the dandruff shampoo sit in hair for about 15 mins then rinse. She told me to wash her hair 2x per week until cradle cap gone. I did exactly as she said and in 2 weeks, it was all gone and never came back. We then went back to the once a week shower.
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I find it very upsetting and I haven't figured out what to do about Mom. My sister just says, if that is the way she wants it.............. She doesn't want to do anything. I have a bad back, can't force her to do it by myself. I don't want her kicked out of AL because of it. I was thinking that next time she sees the doctor he might be able to prescribe something that will make her more cooperative for just that time and maybe I can convince my sister to help.
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My Alz husband would not like to bath and would fight with me about it everyday. He would say I will do it later or I already did it. What worked for me was drugs (Celexa and Ativan). He also goes to daycare three times a week and he wants to be clean and smelling good "for the girls there". I know some of you may not like the idea of drugs but it worked wonders for me. Thank god for his new doc who helped me figure it out.
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Good Lord, I need to shower twice a day to control my armpit honk and itchy fanny. I suffer an illness that makes me honk under the arms - within minutes of finishing my shower - while I am still wet. There is nothing the doctors can do for me - so I have to manage it myself with 2 x day showering. If I were to go out, I sometimes need to have a 3rd shower a day - or wonder why everyone keeps away from me and/or holds their noses
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I think some of people are a little obsessed with this whole daily bathing/showering thing. There's a difference between keeping clean and showering. It IS possible to be clean with sponge baths, wet wipes etc. There are even no rinse shampoos and body washes for those who absolutely can not bathe the conventional way.
BTW, where I live the nursing home provides a bath/shower twice a week, not daily.
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I cant stress enough regarding older women the propensity for UTIs....womem have died from untreated urinary tract infections... Cleanliness is next to godliness??
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Also, we bought a shower chair and shower hose that stretches and reaches around to wash mom.....and talk about something else while i clean her
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Aloe sanitary wash wipes, better than nothing too
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My mom is not a fan of bathing either. However, i am mindful of keeping her peepee clean as best aa i can, she is very susceptible to UTI's. I remind her if she doesnt get clean down there, she may end up in the hospital again. UTI's really take her out at 92. Fighting to take a bath is awful, i know, but there are medical and health reasons that it needs to be done too. Good luck
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Well if dementia people refuse to shower, they should be isolated from every one else
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My mother gets her hair done every week (in AL) but never combs it after that. She won't shower and there is nothing we can do. She absolutely refuses to cooperate with the staff at her assisted living home and they can't, by law force her. She won't listen to us either. Five months ago, before we took her to the AL, my sister forced her into the shower and she howled and carried on - and was out in 2 minutes. Its the only shower she has had in years. I noticed the other day that she is beginning to smell. We simply don't know what to do. Mom is 100, still mobile, getting herself dressed, etc but has dementia, memory loss. She is just totally uncooperative in every way.
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OMG, my demented mother refused to bathe/shower or wash her hair for the last four years before being admitted to a nursing home. Because of my multiple disabilities, doing it for her was completely out of the question. When I tried to get help in, the carer support groups refused - just because mum didn't want help. Mum ended up getting very itchy red rash all over her entire body and scalp - with super bad cradle cap. I ended up catching mum's rash. And I still have to shower twice a day to control my arm pit odour and fanny itch. The family doctor knew this would happen - and make me contagious, but refused to do anything about it - just because I have multiple disabilities. I have posted more about this on other threads. But hell - daily showering - twice daily if you live in a hot climate or sweat a lot - is essential to hygiene - or you will get a rash and rashes are contagious.

maybe this is why there is a global outbreak of scabies - I read on the internet that 13 million people world wide have scabies - I think it would be mainly demented people refusing to ever washh - and their carer children who catch it off of them. ALl the more reason why all demented people should be forced to go into a nursing home - where they get looked after properly and made to shower once every day.
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All I can say is "Parents are sure hard to raise" lol :)
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Raven1, I am sure all the yelling and tantrums are very stressful! My mom and I have had our moments (when she doesn't want to shower or go to a scheduled appointment but once she's in the moment she's usually better) but it stresses me out to the point where I wonder, "What the heck am I going to do as mom's dementia progresses?" Sooooo much to think about.......

Yes, our parents do act child-like because they just don't understand that what we are doing for them is in their best interest. It can be extremely frustrating! Caretaking is tough! Take care of your mom but remember to also TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!

Maybe you should hire someone to help your mom bathe and shower. This would give you free time you didn't have before and It would probably reduce your stress level. Take a deep breath and hang in there!
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Thank you all so much, what blessings you all are! I am sitting here feeling so frustrated and thinking I am probably the only one with this problem and find out it is something everyone deals with and yet in some different ways.

Seemeride, I love how you talk and tell stories to get her mind off what is happening. It sounds like although it is work you are both having a fairly good time while you are "taking care of business!" Love It!

Several of you mentioned the coolness of the water and I was rather shocked yesterday that Mom yelled at me at one point saying the water was hot when in reality the water was lukewarm, almost cool. I was immediately wondering if when they have dementia or Alzheimer's do they lose their sense of temperature? Mom's dog sleeps in my room under the bed and Mom comes in numerous times each night to check on her and she will say, "It's too hot in here can't you turn your air conditioner down to hit the floor and 10 minutes later she is back complaining that it is too cold and the dog needs a blanket! So do they lose their sense of hot and cold?

I wish I had a chair that could lean back like in beauty shops so I could say to Mom, just have a seat and "I will give you beauty shop treatment!" That is what we use to say to the kids and now the dog....I think she would maybe laugh at it....but sit down and let me wash her hair.

Thank you all for your suggestions and stories. I wish I knew something special she liked that we could do that would make it seem worthwhile to her. I honestly HATE to experience her yelling and tantrums and at times I get upset and that doesn't help. That is why I told her if she refused to bathe or wash her hair I would hire someone to come in and help her, that was my frustration. They act like children but with a child you can normally make them do what you want I just don't want Mom to be upset and angry.....it hurts when you are trying to do what is best for them but they do not see it that way.
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I usually have my mom take a shower two times a week. She washes her face and body by herself but I wash her hair (I call it "my treat" to mom......having someone else wash your hair feels great!) It's also my way of making sure it's being thoroughly cleaned. When my mom first moved in she would be washing her hair with shampoo the same time the water was rinsing the soap out=hair was not getting cleaned......so.....now I wash, brush and blow dry mom's hair. But boy oh boy did we have our disagreements about shower days, when she had one last, etc.....now there's a calendar in her room with everything on it......shower days, appointments, etc. Sometimes mom will ask "Do I smell?" My answer? "Mom, anyone's going to have an odor after a few days." I think this answer is better than, "Well, as a matter of fact..."

This seems to be working for now. Down the line....who knows? This week mom has a hair appointment so I'm gearing myself up for "I don't need a haircut." (she does) and "Didn't I just get it cut?" (five weeks ago).....then there might be/most likely will be some complaining about having to go to the salon....then after the haircut "Oh, it looks so nice!".......... "Yes, mom, it does!" ;)
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Oh my gosh seemeride..... reading your shower time with your mom saved me from writing what I do for my dad... right down to the space heater to the water that would give me goosebumps. lol and by time I am done with the whole thing I am soaking wet from sweat. Not sure if it is hormones or the fact that it is hotter than hell in there.. lol I worked as a paid caregiver and the lady was in later stages of alz. She hated shower time... but I was also a hairdresser for 25 years prior so I would pride myself in doing her hair nice. She liked it and her husband loved it, the daughter......not so much. She said she got her mom's hair permed so she could let it go curly... Oh well I tried, she is a very pretty woman and photos of her before, her hair was always done just so, and her jewelry had to match her outfit. Sad you would maybe think her daughter would have been happy, it wasn't like I was charging her for the blow and curl... Whatever... I guess I should be grateful that my dad keeps himself shaved, worries about the length of his sideburns as well as his eyebrows and he appreciates his showers.. Good luck and hugs to all.
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Bathing seems to be a problem with all elders, IMO. My mom was the same way. I went with twice a week, then put lotion on her or baby oil afterwards. She also had to wash her hair in the kitchen sink. Once I just started washing it in the shower, but she couldn't put her head back far enough, so she got water in her ears, and that set her off big time. She also LIKED to have her hair fixed up and her jewelry on, but getting that head wet was an issue, plus, she could hardly stand there long enough to get the job done. I had a seat for the shower, had two washrags (one for me, one for her), I washed her back and front and legs, she washed her privates, so we were done in about 5 minutes at most. I also had a portable heater in the bathroom before to get it all warm, even in the summer, and the water had to be cooler than I thought it would. Most of all, I tried to make it fun. I would tell stupid stories or make fun of something I did and we would laugh, which took her mind off the whole process. When I did her hair, I would talk about how I would fix it or where we could go just to keep things light.....even if we never went anywhere. Hope something I said here may help you.
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My dad showers once or twice a week. He doesn't sweat or smell, but personal hygiene is an issue so sometimes he has to shower more. He is entering late stage ALZ. When he came to live with us a little over a year ago after my mom died, I read in The 36 Hour Day that tasks like showering can be overwhelming for them and that you have to break it into multiple steps. I can't just say, "okay go take your shower." He would refuse because he wouldn't have the slightest clue as to what he should do first. So I just ask him to follow me back to his room and I tell him that he needs a shower and I'll help him. The number of "steps" depends on his mental awareness that day. It is usually something like: take off your shoes and shoes, your shirt, leave your watch on the dresser, get out clean underwear, here's your pajamas, follow me to the bathroom, etc., etc. Once I have started the water I leave him to undress and get in the shower. After he's in there I stick my head in the bathroom and remind of where the soap is and tell him to wash real good and get all the nooks and crannies (he always chuckles at that). And then we do all the steps once he's out of the shower to get him dressed and back to his room. The process usually takes about 45 minutes.

Now some of this cooperation from him may come from the fact that he doesn't recognize me much at all anymore -- especially in the evening when he showers. Often times he thinks he is in a medical facility and that I work here. He doesn't know I am his daughter. Most nights when he goes to bed he tells me that I am one of his favorites here and he hopes I'm working tomorrow. If it seems to make it easier on him, I go with it and assume the role of caregiver and call him by his name rather than "Dad." It works well for us.
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