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My 87 year old mother lives with my oldest sister and her husband. My mother has dealt with incontinence issues for years and has even had the mesh bladder lift surgery to assist her with this problem. This problem has escalated to a more serious problem where our mother refuses to even get up go to the bathroom to urinate. She says she doesn't need to since she wears the incontinence undergarments. She reinforces them with overnight pads in the middle of them. She claims she cannot tell when she has to urinate but knows she is going because she feels the "warmth". We have discussed this issue with her doctor and she has been examined and we are told there is no physical reason for her to be going on herself the way she is. Confronting her about her need to get up and go to the bathroom to "clean up" turns into a battle of wills. To her if it's not absolutely dripping wet it doesn't need to be changed. She even resorts to trying to dry them out if she feels they are not wet enough to dispose of them. Chairs are being ruined, her mattress is going to need to be replaced soon. Suggesting that she consider being cathed to deal with this easier sent her into a tail spin. She doesn't care about her hygiene issues associated with this problem and refuses to take baths or showers. When asked by Heath care officials she lies and tells them she washes, but she doesn't. UTI's are pretty much the norm. Anyone else dealing with this too?

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Hi Mishka, Thank you for your kind, respectful thoughts on this issue. We have tried almost every approach with Mom we can think of when it comes to hygiene and incontinence issues with her. Since these postings she has started hiding her pads and my sister is now having to seek out the "smell". When asked why she hides them she tells her that she didn't do it or just "I don't know why I did it". She isn't scolded or yelled at, or treated badly when addressed about her "problem" they have just started addressing her getting up and going to the restroom more frequently and telling her that they are "counting" her briefs and pads, so they know when she has and hasn't taken care of herself like she claims she has. This seems to make her angry that she isn't getting away with being unable to not clean up like she was before. She doesn't seem to like having to clean up several times a day. She would rather sit and not attend to her needs. She says all this fuss over nothing exhausts her and is unnecessary. She obviously doesn't understand she smells bad and her clothes are wet and she is ruining furniture even when wet pads are under her. Her expression when trying to explain is like a deer caught in the headlights. It's so sad..
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Oh Danna, I know what you mean about battles being exhausting! Sometimes you just want to give up!! I think it says a lot that you are on here trying to figure out a way to help Mom when you are so pooped (sorry , probably wrong word to use ;0) My battles are with my special needs girl mostly. I have found that I tense up when it is time for her to go to bed because I just know it is going to be a battle. She is not a little thing (an chunky 16 year old) so I cannot physically force her - not that that is a good idea anyway -but ---anyway-I have a point. My husband and I have been talking and I told him I thought we were sunburnt. This is a phrase that I got off of Dr. Phil. As I understand it: You know how if you are sunburnt , really bad, you are on high alert and if someone even comes close to touching you, you flinch. Well that is what we have been doing with our girl. She had been so oppositional and combative that when we had to approach her for one of the tasks she had been freaking out about we did so fully expecting a battle and treating her almost as if she started one- before she even had said a peep. I think this then becomes more of a battle ground. She sensed our unease and anger and this only escalated the issue. So we try to go in now with a better attitude. I don't know if this applies with you or not but I thought I would throw it out there.

OK- really silly question. have you asked Mom why she hates bathing so much? Maybe it is for a reason we cannot think of.

Sheesh ,I wish I could help. (((((hugs))))
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Danna24 - does your mom have any mental problems such as Dementia? If not, then it may be time to suggest temporarily bringing in outside help twice a week just to see if mom likes it - give it a try. Gently explain to her that you know she isn't taking showers and lying about it and that is not good for her health - both her skin and female area. She can get a variety of infections which wouldn't help her situation at all. Explain to her that this is what the nursing aid gets paid to do - and not only will the nursing aid be helping your mom get cleaned up which will make her feel better - your mom will be helping the nursing aid by keeping her employed which will make the nursing aid feel better. And that the nursing aid is used to seeing old naked people :). Sometimes they're scared of what they don't know. If she is still refusing, and the smell and her hygiene is that bad, (and I don't like to suggest it) but it may be time to tell her that's the way it's going to be for her own health's sake. Good luck!!
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I appreciate all of your responses. We have done everything we can think of to accommodate my mother with her hygiene when it comes to the toilet and shower, seats, bars, pads, in the chairs, and on her mattress. Growing up her mother was extremely obese and would clean up with sponge baths, but did not have incontinence issues. For some reason, she feels that this is an acceptable means of bathing for her because her mother did. She has a shower chair and a shower wand. She was not modest to such an extreme degree with us growing up as she is now. Now, she doesn't want any of us in the bathroom with her or assisting her because she doesn't want to clean herself like she should. Yet she will lie and tell you she has, and you will know show hasn't because of dry towels, washcloths, and shower stall. She's our Mom, we would never do anything to shame her or be in dignified with her. Everything when it comes to her hygiene ends in a major battle and it's exhausting to my sister. She refuses the assistance of outside help such as nursing aids.
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Hi Danna ,
My first instinct was to tell you to just cover the furniture with that plastic stuff from the seventies. Not very pretty but better than stinky. But if this is effecting her health - and it is if she is not cleaning and getting UTI s ( and I saw that she has AD from your profile) well, I agree with you that something should be done. Some questions-I am sure you have these covered but just in case-
Are the toilets comfortable for her? . Does she need accommodations made so she feels safe on them? Like lift seats or bars to hold onto?
Is she in any physical pain from her mesh? I keep seeing these ads for lawsuits about them. Could it be effecting her?
Do you think this has become a battle of the wills or a comfort thing? Is she just trying to control things or is she possibly in pain when being cleaned? I keep hearing, on here, that shower water is painful to the elderly a lot of times.
I would schedule clean up time for her thoughout the day. Make it part of the routine. Before she eats lunch she must get a clean up. Make it spa like. Have soft towels on her bed over a rubber sheeting(you can buy rubber sheeting at a fabric store- it is soft). Have her lay down on the bed with a sheet covering her or a big towel so she is warm. Or let her keep a robe on. And have a warm bowl of water ready to go. And just gently wipe her down. Maybe give her a brief foot massage or hand massage after. Can you put corn starch in her private area-around groin? I think that is OK but I would check with her doctor.
Then in the evening I would do this again. It may be a lot of work though. Can you get help that would do this for her. And then give her a full bath or shower when needed. I have heard you can go as little as once a week but I am guessing it depends on the person and their level of odor.

My Mom hates that she needs help with her bathing. She is very proud and private. I use humor to get us through it and the spa like thing. She is comfortable in a shower so we use a bench but when I am watching her I say-"OK-is my 7 o'clock appointment ready? Come on lady, let's get you beautiful" And I remind her that it does not bother me to wash her!!! She sits with a towel in the shower and covers herself with it. It gets soaked but so what. We use a shower with the removable handle. Also when she needs to clean "her naughty parts" she uses does this herself and I always say "oh I love my ceiling. What a gorgeous ceiling! Look at that ceiling!!!" as I stare upwards and she laughs.

Just some thoughts for you. I do not know if any of this will help you. I know our elders are all so different and unique so I apologize if my post is not helpful to you.
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My mother-in-law would did this sometimes too. She got a little better after I explained to her that even though she can't smell it - everyone else can and it stinks and it's almost impossible to get rid of the urine smell. We would suggested she go to the bathroom and pee and change them every 2-3 hours even if she didn't feel the need to to help alleviate this problem. Diapers and pad inserts are expensive, and my mother-in-law didn't like to use too many either. But her bladder got worse, and it finally got to the point where we would not let her sit or lay anywhere without a disposable pad down first. And we made absolutely sure we never sat where she did if she didn't have a pad down after a couple of "accidents" where we find we just sat in pee - UGH! So I guess my biggest suggestion is to get the disposable pads and make sure she understands she can't sit or lay anywhere without one of them down first. Good luck!!
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