My husband with Alzheimer's, doesn't shower or brush his teeth. Any advice?


Once immaculate about himself my husband now sleeps in his clothes. My husband has taken to dressing in head to toe camouflage, as if he were back in VIetnam. He keeps his key and money in the pockets of these cargo pants. He won't let me wash the pants because he would lose track of these items. I bought identical pants for him and washed the first pair and he lost track of his key and got locked out of the house. Our son couldn't get him to shower either. My husband insisted that he had just taken a shower. Delusion. Insisting strongly on anything gets him very agitated, so I've taken the road of capitulation. I'm aware of the health issues involved with the lack of personal hygiene, but I can't fight with him. I feel guilty that I can't even manage these basic tasks. Any advice is welcome.

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I know this all too well! My grandfather HATES to shower, even trying to get him to freshen up is a battle. I've been taking care of him for about two years now and I've learned that I need to put aside at least two hours to get him ready and in the shower. I try to get his things ready for him and slowly ask him every few minutes or so if he's ready to get in the shower. This is never going to be an easy task, unfortunately. The only thing I can really suggest is patience. I also try to have him look in the mirror to see that he isn't as clean as he thinks. It's funny though because he hates to shower but after he always says how refreshed he feels! haha I hope this helped a little bit. Just know you're not alone!
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He will resist family, but he will cooperate with orders from an RN or MD. So get the MD to order a bath aide once a week. Old vets understand chain of command.
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Mimijazz, what I have learned about Alzheimer's/dementia, there are times when the love one becomes afraid of the water coming from the shower. You also mentioned hubby doesn't brush his teeth, again it might be the running water. Is he ok with getting a glass of water from the tab? If not, then you have your answer. Or he might think he is back in the war and the water could be contaminated.

If he is mentally in the military mode of thinking, you might want to get the adult cleaning cloths that are now available, these wet cloths are a shower substitute, and tell him these cloths will camouflage his scent... I know it sounds off the wall, but worth a try.
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I wouldn't feel guilty. These types of things are common with dementia. My cousin refused to bathe, refused to brush her teeth or wear a bra. At the time, I didn't realize it was dementia. No amount of talk would convince her. She would also lie and say she had just bathed, but it was a lie because the shower was dry and there were no wet towels around. Plus, she smelled.

Eventually, she grew unable to care for herself and has gone into a Memory Care Unit. There, they bathe her and she does not resist. She actually enjoys a shower now. I'm not sure why.

I'm not sure how you can reason with him. You could offer to assist him or have a professional aid come into the house to assist, but if he is physically resistant, someone could get hurt. Is this the only thing he refuses to do?

With the dementia, I noticed that things progress. It's not as if you can tackle an issue and then it's okay. Usually, other issues soon follow. I would explore long range plans for when there are multiple issues that you cannot handle with his behavior.

I found that people who are trained to work with dementia patients are the most informed and equipped to deal with the matters. I might locate some people in your community and see if they may offer some assistance in your home. This would allow you some time to really study his condition so you will know what to expect.
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