I wondered if anybody else has this problem. I am new to this forum but I love it!!! So much empathy and great advice on here. My mother is 95 years old with an undiagnosed mental illness. She has undiagnosed mental illness. She is bipolar. A hoarder, and a gambling addict. She is mean and nasty and I am her only caregiver that stops in to check on her. She lives alone and won’t let anybody in the house. I can’t get her to bathe and wash her hair. Last time I did it for her was May and it was a lot of screaming and yell to try and get her to cooperate. I have talked to her doctor and an elder lawyers and they said as long as she is competent which she is, there is nothing that can be done. When she went to the doctors they said she is off the charts cognitively for being age 95. She is fiercely independent and her memory is exceptional. I can’t get her to go to an assisted living or nursing home if I tried. She won’t go. When I try to wash her hair she screams at me to leave otherwise she is going to call the police. Any thoughts or ideas?

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Snowy, is mom in the hospital yet?
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Beatty Sep 2019
A first I thought ??? Then the penny dropped... *awaiting the fall* (or other medical issue). Then the opportunity arrives for eval & then hopefully the right level of care. Yes?
Wow, your Mom is doing great at her ate. Tomorrow is my Mom's 89th birthday, but she probably will have a not good one. She hasn't wanted to have a shower in a long time too. She wants to take a bath although she has no mobility to be able to get into a bath tub. We were told by PTs that she could get into her shower with assistance if she wanted to do that, but she doesn't. She has been even worse the past four days. My sister has had to go to multiple doctor appointments, and she is the person who lives with Mom 24/7. Mom has my sister so trained to come do anything at anytime that Mom commands. But Mom fell on carpet in her bedroom two nights ago and did not want the firemen to come help her up and then go to hospital. So when my sister called me to ask me to help her get her up, I went to their house again after being there nine hours earlier in the day. Somehow, we got Mom up to honor her request, but then Mom couldn't walk as big toe hurts her after falling and does look black and blue now. So we got Mom to her bed and I insisted for the first time in her life she wear a diaper to bed so she could just sleep and let my sister sleep. Mom didn't like that, but it had to be. So now, besides not bathing, she is not cooperating with my sister's requests when she is helping her, and I told my sister, that is not okay. If Mom doesn't want to do comply, then since she has a sore toe and cannot stand up, she would need to wear a diaper. Today Mom wouldn't eat so that didn't help. She did consume fluids some so at least hydrated. Kaiser ER is not a good place on weekends, but since tomorrow is Monday, despite it being her birthday, she may finally decide she wants to go there. Otherwise, I hope her primary doc will make requests for home health or possibly hospice as Mom really doesn't want to be here anymore. After our Mass, I spoke to the priest who is young and super nice telling him the situation. He said he would come visit Mom today. When I asked Mom, she wanted him to come and not go to the Kaiser ER like 17 years ago when it did not turn out well and she got emergency colostomy which she has blamed for years is the cause of her troubles and she should have died then. Mom got sacraments and can now think peaceful thoughts. She doesn't want what would be needed with how she has become the past ten months resisting any exercise or proper nutrition. So why should Mom have to go to ER on weekend to give her more stress, especially since I doubt they would release her to come home the same day if she had to arrive in an ambulence since not able to stand to be transported by family. They would have to drug her immensely to have her be calm there and she would not be happy on her 89th Birthday today now. Mom has had difficulty on days of occasions for a while. That is what my husband thinks is going on.

So not even a sponge bath occurred with Mom here today. We did keep her very clean since using diaper for first two days. Mom wants to be in her bed so until we can contact her primary doc tomorrow, she is where she wants to be for the time being. Mom was calm when she did go to sleep tonight. I will go over to help my sister diaper Mom at 3 am if need be. Last night, my sister said her diaper was completely dry as Mom can hold it. But before diaper, she was making my sister assist her to commode every two hours minimum.

I do think using behavior techniques could help my Mom and probably yours too. Don't think of it like a bribe, but really a reward for helping and possible assign a punishment for not complying. I don't mean a hurting punishment, but maybe not the next whim the parent wants to be catered to then. I so wish my sister would have started doing something like that with Mom a long while back. It is not fair for my sister to be expected to be on call for Mom's not necessary requests which at least 75% are.

Good luck trying the idea of offering the casino if your Mom bathes. We hoped to take ours there.
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My Mum refuses alot too. I tried to get to the reasons, & got these;
* Memory: thinks she already had one yesterday - Dad writes it on kitchen calender now. Shower day is MONDAY etc.
* Feelings: embarrassed about needing help - humour tried... sometimes works... also doesn't want to admit being dirty (& can't smell)
* Touch: feels cold even if warm day. Hates the feel on air on skin - Drape towel over as much as possible. Of course water temp must be good too.
* Pamperiing: a luxurous bodywash (actually a gentle age appropriate soap-free bodywash). A no-go with this no-frills Mum but others may like!

Noting *shower day* & *hair washing* on calender has taken some of the arguments away. I tried giving other other choices like shower or sponge wash at the sink today? But you have to choose one - still like a toddler. No. I'm ok. I don't need to, sigh. "I'm sure you don't want to be a stinky lady!" Worked once.

Some older people hhave told me the shower feels like tiny needles - must have such delicate skin. A sponge wash is all they will do.

Such a common problem I'm afraid. I suppose if possible get to your Mother's reasons if you can.
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Would she ever go with you for a 'treat yourself' day to a hair salon to have her hair washed? Doesn't fix the bathing part though...
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elaine - I had the exact same problem with my 82 y.o. Alz. mother when she was living with me. She didn't bathe for 6 months. Every time I asked her, she said she already took a shower and adamantly refused to get washed. I didn't have a solution.

Now that she is living at her own place with her younger sister (my aunt), my aunt won't hear of any excuses. She tells my mom: "you don't bathe, you won't get to go out. Period." My mom loves to have someone drive her places, so my she agreed.

Your mom, however, doesn't have Alz. or dementia, so it's not easy to trick or bribe her.

I hope others will chime in with solutions.
Helpful Answer (2)
elaine1962 Sep 2019
Thank you polar bear for your response. She is tricky. It is like dealing with a toddler. If you do this for me, I will do this for you. The only thing she loves to do is go to the casino. She lost every bit of her savings over the years because of her gambling addiction. I knew I couldn’t stop her because she was independent and use to drive herself there. But she hasn’t driven in 3 years. She takes call a bus to the store and plays scratch off tickets. She comes home with a whole plastic bag full of them. She didn’t win on one single ticket, but she brought them home to add to the collection of all the other junk in her house. She’s a hoarder. I am really at the point to say to her cmon let’s wash your hair and then I’ll take you to the casino. I feel like it is now or never to wash her hair because winter will be here soon and she definitely won’t let me wash her hair all winter. She says it’s too cold outside. Doesn’t matter it’s 80 degrees in her house!! Am I wrong to make this offer to her? I feel like I am making a deal with the devil, lol.
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