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Mom refuses to shower when I suggest it. She thinks washing up is good enough when it's not. She is prone to UTIs and we have spoke with all of her doctors about it. They said showering every 3 days is sufficient. I can't get her in the shower twice a week but maybe once a week. Today she refused to shower. We were planning on visiting my husbands family and she agreed to go with us. I refuse to take her unless she showers. She continue to get dressed and put jewelry on, ignoring me. She says that washing up is good enough. I told her she might as well not even put any jewelry on or get dressed because I'm not taking her. And she said I'll get a cab there. She doesn't even know where she lives and she could not even make it out to the curb to get in a cab. She's on oxygen 100% of the time. She has advanced COPD, heart issues and a mass in her lung that is suspicious for malignancy (she doesn't know this). Unfortunately she is high risk and cannot endure any invasive testing and surgeries. We have already spoken to a palliative care doctor regarding her situation. She can just about walk and when she does can only go four to five feet at anyone before having to sit and rest. We cannot see my in-laws because she is being stubborn. I am at my wits end end. She doesn't even care about how much my husband and I do to help care for her to enable her to stay in her own home. I am living with her and have for the past four years. My husband lives four blocks away and comes four days out of the week to sit with her while I work. We have one lady who comes in on Mondays and my sister comes another day. I just cannot believe how hurtful she is by actually telling me she isn't showering to spite me. She got me so upset crying that I actually told her I hated her. I really don't hate her I love her very much but she is a selfish person. She has been selfish all her life and I have overlooked it. So now my husband and I both cannot go and I think it's so unfair. I work full time and have no social life. If I want to go out, I have to find a sitter. That is hard because I have only two people and they are here taking care of her during the week. I just do not know what to do anymore. I am getting burned out.

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Sue! That's wonderful! I think you did two things that helped...you didn't ask her you more or less put her in the right spot..and the assumption was she would take her shower, so it wasn't like a battle of the wills..she felt she made the choice! And the second thing was major..you made it easy for her by setting everything up for her...good thinking! You made the conditions right and easy for her! Maybe you can reward her after she showers..maybe take her out to lunch..shopping..whatever floats her boat! Lol...hugs to you both...
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I finally got mom in the shower! I was sooooo happy all day that she took one. She was happy too. How did I do it? I walked into the bathroom to show her the "new" faucets we had put in the shower. I turned it on, got the right temperature, took out a clean towel, and left her in the bathroom as I closed the door. It took her a while, but she did get in. I think the main problem is SHE FORGOT HOW TO TURN ON THE SHOWER. Really. I'm going to try it again in a few days to get a routine going. We have a routine for church so why not a routine for a shower.
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Thank you to everyone. Tomorrow I'm going to try the "hair" trick. I told her this evening that her hair was looking a little dirty and needed a wash. She said she likes it dirty. (OMG) Any-hoo, I told her she should wash it tomorrow. She said OK. Well, I'm going to try some of your suggestions to get her in the shower to wash her hair. Basically using her hair as an excuse to get her in the shower. It is so gross. It's making me take MORE showers!!!!!!
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I think it may depend on the stage of the dementia as to how much protests there are about bathing.I know that for a good while my cousin refused to bath or shower. She lied and said she was getting them, but she was not. Even when she first went into Assisted Living she was not happy about showers. (The staff bathed her in the shower, dried her off and dressed her.) However, as her dementia progressed, she no longer has a problem with showers. Maybe, she knows it's a part of her her routine on some days, but, she no longer protest. Oh, she'a also on meds for anxiety now. That could help as well.
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OK they won't take a shower or a bath....Before my mom was bedridden we also had these problems....and you're all right, they HATE the cold....so we put a space heater in the bathroom until the room was very warm, ran the water until it was very warm....and then...."I'm not going in there!' (we have a walk in tub with a seat for showers and a hand held spay). So I put down 2 bath towels on the floor (to sop up the water) had her stay there (in a chair for the bath) covered her in warm towels and washed her under the towels. This worked until she was bed-ridden and could not move. At that point the hospice nurse took over and did warm sponge baths in her bed.....it's not easy and I send my blessings to all of you!
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Have you tried a walk-in shower? I don't know if you have one but they tend to be more receptive with a walk-in shower and shower chair. Keep the shower on schedule too. Two or three days a week. It's a compromise.
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I can't get my mom in the shower. Tried everything. All these suggestions. Her answer is simple: I just took one. Yea, right. I finally got a break from caregiving after 4 years. Went on a 2 week vacation. Left my siblings in charge. Well, guess what? They couldn't get her in the shower either. So, I have given up. But at least my siblings know what I have been dealing with !!!!!
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My grandma refused to do anything but stand at the sink and wipe down the parts she could see. She was getting constant UTI's, and she had a yeast infection that wouldn't go away once because she was unclean. I got a paid caregiver in whose job was back then just to focus on giving her a good shower and helping her dress. They now are with me 3 hours a day to give me breaks so I can pack up the house to prepare to move but still, they come and give her a shower and do laundry. Grandma understands this and although she still tries the "I don't want to shower" game on the caregivers if she thinks she can get away wth it, she does have showers which gets her clean. You can try to hire someone in for that job and see if your mother doesn't start to do it.

We also learned that she would not get into the bathtub for fear of falling so we did a tub cut to the bathtub, bought a shower chair and put handles around the bathroom making it safe for her to be in the bathtub. It works. It might help you too. Perhaps she is afraid of water or falling in the shower or feels uncomfortable in there.
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I meant to say DIGNITY IS! GRRR!
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I remember when my Mom became bedbound from the Cancer, which had metastasized from her uterus to her pelvis, now eroding, and she was in extreme pain. She was so incredibly modest and shy, so when we did her bed baths, we would warm the towels, and keep every part of her covered, only uncovering the parts of her we were washing, starting from the top, and working our way down, and lastly her private parts, using a clean washcloth. Then again, creaming her all over, and finished up with changing her sheets and bedding. It was always a two person ordeal, mainly for safety, but also for her to be kept preoccupied with conversation. She was quite with it mentally, but was on a very high dose of IV narcotics, which were also upped, right before we had to be moving her, for any reason. We did our best to make it as comfortable and painless as possible, but it's not easy especially when they are in so much pain. Digni6is such a huge issue for the elder, heck, even for me! I think we all have to respect human dignity in every situation!
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Iim nowt special Veronica I just wanna make life easy for ME and you are sooooooooooo right about training then and training now. Even so some carers are bitches from hell and belong back there sooner than later and they always seem to find their way into dementia care. One London care home owner I knew installed cctv in every room not for the safety of the people in the home but to protect them from attacks by the carers......note to her ......sack the bloody lot of them and start again. My mother drives me crazy periodically and at times she DOES get right under my skin but hurt her? NEVER. We may argue when she says she doesn't want to bother with eating or drinking or whatever her pick of the day is! But I would never strike her, pinch her, push her, knock her over and anyone who does any of those deliberately really does need locking up and the key thrown away.
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I like your baths Jude! Would you mind popping over the "pond" and giving me one?
In the late fifties when I trained in the UK student nurses received absolutely no training about dementia and how to care for these patients. Patients who became "difficult" were sedated whether they liked it or not and had a very sad end. Uncooperative elders were made to be co-operative with physical force.
Student nurses were 18 year olds straight out of high school with no life experience. In the better London Hospitals they were also nice middle class girls.
You had to reach a certain level of education to be accepted.
Aides were a thing of the future, those duties were performed by student nurses but we were taught to protect the patient's dignity and and the right way to bathe.
Another area lacking in nurse education at that time way psychology which also applied to the medical students.
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The one thing I do know is that when showering someone it is absolutely critical to be in charge of what happens in terms of care support and safety. The person being showered HAS to feel safe and secure at all times so it won't be easy to get them in the shower every time you want to.

Pick a time in the day when they are feeling a little more malleable as it were. Try using soothing music to soften their emotions - the last thing you want is a battle before you even get to the bathroom. Make sure all the towels are warm and ready to use. Anything cold on their skin is really unpleasant for them - older people are so much more sensitive to the cold.

If she absolutely point blank refuses the shower then using a no---nonsense approach tell her she can wash up but in the shower - its too dangerous now for her to do it over the sink - the doctor said so (great source of support even if they didn't say it)

Let her wash the way she always does then say right Mum I need to make sure your undercarriage is clean now (or whatever words THEY use for that part of their body) I am going to use a sponge and warm water to wash you ok? right and keep talking to her the whole time not about the washing but about the weather the dog the cat the music anything to take her mind off what you're doing. If she's incontinent once you have dried her then apply a barrier cream and explain that you are applying the cream that the doctor prescribed to keep her from getting sore.

Just remember to wipe from from to back and to wash from from to back and surprise surprise dry from front to back. Let her rest after you have showered or sponged her down dried and dressed her - it is exhausting for some people. Talk to her or find a photo album to look through once you have her dressed. Then continue - hopefully over time she will come to enjoy that
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Im no expert Stacey. I did one hell of a lot of research, I visited dozens and dozens of home , spoke to numerous managers and learned even more from the real experts on the shop floor as it were. I also learned the pitfalls along the way and saw some incredibly bad practice in relation to people with dementia.

When I started back in the day there WAS no training for people who worked with dementia....nothing.

Carers who didn't care about people's dignity, had no respect for their privacy, and witnessed some results of some very nasty abuse. Whenever I saw bad practice I reported to the managers for them to handle. On the very odd occasion when my report was ignored I just went to the authorities. You have to stamp out poor practice. I was using the self centred approach - I want them to be fantastic places just in time for me to need them!!!!!

Some care homes challenged people when they said weird things, some didn't, some told residents off when they couldn't find the toilet for the hundredth time and some just put a picture of a very old fashioned toilet on the door. Some overmedicated to keep the person 'quiet' some had exercise and music and 'light rooms' to stimulate them along with art, dancing (not always but mostly watching).

What angers me is that while these people had the skills to HANDLE people with dementia they had no understanding OF dementia and now although I HAVE the knowledge can I get training in the hands on stuff? Can I heck as like and that is where it all falls down. Knowing what to do and actually doing the hands on stuff is very different especially when you bolt on the swathes of emotion that come with familial caring. When I massage Mums body I have no problem (as long as I use gloves) I don't of course use gloves so even touching her I find not quite right especially buttocks breasts and upper inner thighs. It's too personal FOR ME. Yep I hear you ...get over it ...but I still find it hard and when it gets more personal than that I really struggle still 5 years down the line
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I AM Right! Lol!
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Oh Jude, I knew it! I knew you were an expert! Its awesome that you devoted yourself to learning and then teaching about the safeguarding of our elders, thank God you did! I hope the practices you devised were put to good use!
The only true bidet I've ever seen was in my Auntie and Uncles house in Wales. It looked interesting enough, and had warm water I'm told, but I didn't try it.
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Jude in my book you are as expert as anyone who has spent their whole working life observing the practices in care homes and understanding the special needs of the dementia patient
People declare themselves to be experts in many fields with far less experience in their field than you have in yours.
I'd love to have a bidet but not one with only cold water.
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Something that intimate ^ sorry I wrote in haste
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I have just received a private message - I am assuming it is sarcasm:

bidetsprayerman posted on your message board 2/27/2016 at 1:04 pm
You are the expert, on everything.

I guess it is time to come clean. I am a published author on dementia for carers having written on safeguarding of vulnerable adults some years ago. I have visited over 200 care homes in the UK as part of my work and am well versed in good care average care and downright bloody awful care in a care home setting. it is all very different at home when the care givers are familial.

No-one in their right mind would introduce a cold spray onto an elderly persons genital area unless they could get them to understand why they were doing it. The person would be frightened may try to jump up and fall and for a million other reasons I just cannot see the usefulness of them in care for geriatric people with dementia. Im not opposed to bidets or shower sprays at all ...for me...but I have grown up in a different generation and am familiar with them, most people have not....Hell my mum had to walk down the garden to her toilet when she first married they didn't have one in the house, nor did they have a bath in the house except join Friday night when they brought one in and everyone bathed in the same water one after the other.

Times have changed and you have to understand that people with dementia do not grasp and certainly don't keep a grasp of new things let alone someone that intimate.

So thank you for calling me an expert.....Im not....I am just experienced in what good care skills rather than scare kills
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Don't ask her, tell her, "it's time to take a shower", or when do you want your shower?, tell her you refuse to do anything for her, including feeding her or watching tv, any thing she really enjoys, or she will have to go somewhere else to live or get someone else to take care of her, I know these are threats but usually work after a time. Linda
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I think there's probably lots of reasons for sure...differient reasons for each individual I think...with my mom some days..simply because it wears her out..I try to encourage her to bath in the am...she's less tired..I use a very safe bath mat..when she first moved here..she tried to sit in the tub..it was a disaster...I couldn't get her out! It was a nightmare!
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The OT that came to analyze the house a while back said the reason the elderly refuse to bathe at times is because they lose depth perception and think the tub is deeper than it really is. She suggested a bright shower mat and ducks on sides of tub to help.
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I feel your frustration..you only want mom to look and smell nice..with my mom...it's the fact she sticks out her lip when I suggest washing her hair more than once a week..it's a battle I don't fight too hard...for now..I find if you make them think it's their idea..it helps..also if an outsider..suggests it not me..she's all over it...lol...then there's the ratty clothes she wants to wear when she goes to the dr...I suggest she wear a differient top..by saying..I love you in this top..you look so pretty in it...it works...my moms 84..and that generation is a tough lot..they are made of strong independant stock..now as caregivers..makes it tough for us...they need to feel they are Still in control..we just need to find clever ways to make them feel like they still are...lot sometimes just declare to her...your bath is ready for you..I laid out your favorite outfit...go pick out your jewelry...don't ask her..just act as if it's a given? I worked in nursing homes and VNA so I learned lots of kind trickery...also we had patients who could only take sponge baths..I would soak their feet in a basin of water while washing their bodies..it works fine..not preferable of course! Maybe buy her some pretty smelling shower gel?? One lady I took into the shower at the nursing home..streaked out of there shouting...it's too cold...I'll take a shower in the Spring! One last thing..my mom skips a shower some days..says..she's just too tired..I say..that's ok..just take one in the am...and she does...hope some of this helps..I feel your frustration..and your concern for your mom..hugs
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Advertising your wares again I see bidetsprayman

Juju if she will sit in the shower area and you promise just to wash her down would that work. She may prefer a sponge down to a shower. You can use a cut out front shower chair so you can get at intimate areas and use a long handled bent sponge which will reach and wash those area with any lotion (i used a no rinse soapy wash diluted in water first and then just dipped the sponge in - saved me getting too intimate in the early days when I found this quite difficult to do - now I can do it easily but not at first. She may not mind the shower if you take the spray part off and just let the water run out rather than spray out - its not so harsh against their skin...all things to try.

You could also buy a shower attachment that will fit on your taps and allow you to spray under her while she is sat on the toilet but given elderly people's limited capacity for being safe while they move around at all let alone on a toilet seat I would not really advise this at all but if you decide to try it make sure you have a splashguard in place and a rail for them to hold on to. At least this way the water you sprayed would be warm rather than the traditional sprayer advertised above which would spray COLD water onto her butt - oh she would sure accept that....not. I would still try to assure her you want to wash her down but in the shower to avoid the drips on the floor which will either long term stain the carpet or be slippy if on a hard floor
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Use a handheld shower--I usually get her to shower after I get her to brush her teeth. Also do it as a schedule. If anything shower her at least twice a week. You have to be firm sometimes or they won't do it. Now somebody told me get her doctor to order a B12 level. If she is deficient, Medicare will pay for some home health because she will require a B12 injection monthly. As soon as you get this Medicare will also pay for an CNA to come over 3 times a week to bathe her. Perhaps a different face will instill compliance. Hopefully.
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The trouble can be shower related - something we find enjoyable can actually hurt an elder one the cascade of the shower feels like share needles on their skin. So to avoid them becomes the focus and whatever excuse they use may not be the real reason. Periodically Mum refuses a shower and then becomes obsessive about it. Luckily it usually gets forgotten and we go back to showering but in the mean time I get her to sit in the shower and get a big bucket of water and a soft sponge and sponge her down as well as I can. I tend to use either disposable flannels or if they are soft the normal ones for bespoke areas (if you get my drift). Then I have a second bucket of water to rinse her off. I start at the top and work my way down - that way I can wrap her in towels as I go. She hates the cold and so I put the towels in the tumble drier while I wash her - that way they stay lovely and warm. (I have a really small kitchen so the tumble drier is in my bedroom right next to the shower room so I am lucky in that respect) When she is off a shower I either use the caps that stacey mentioned or I use a bed bowl and wash her hair in bed - never quite mastered the art of not getting everything wet but at least she has clean hair. Personal hygiene isn't an option and in a worse case scenario use wet wipes or disposable cloths soaked in no rinse wash solution and then wrung out. Make sure though that you really attend to the genital area because that starts to become odorous very quickly. I tend to use wet wipes instead of toilet tissue or I wash the area when she pees. At night mum likes to soak her feet largely because they tend to get cold at night. I can then check that all is clean there better than I can when she is in the shower.

I do massage her body with cream every day and that, alongside the washing does mean she smells pretty sweet most of the time (not today today is a bad day but that's a whole different thread and not related to lack of hygiene)
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Eddie, I promise, when you get old, I will not ask you to shower.
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Smelly people close to me make my asthma kick in. If I can't get away, all my professionalism, understanding, and compassion goes out the window. I've actually asked people on the subway when was the last time they washed their a__, and why they smell like they want to be alone. Frankly, I don't care what these Pepe le Pew's problems are; I just want to be able to breathe freely.

Last week, for example, a young man was rapping to a girl on the bus. I was seated, and his behind was literally on my face. He looked at me, smiled, and farted. She complained about the foul odor, and he pointed at me. I lost it. "Pig a__, lying MF! ... I'm gonna knock your teeth out!" She immediately called him a nasty bastard, and got off the bus. The bus was so crowded I couldn't leave my seat, so he laughed and let another one rip before stepping off the bus. Once outside, he gave me the bird from outside the window. I shouted at the driver to let me off, but the bus began to pull off. The punk still had the finger up while grabbing his crotch. Suddenly the bus stopped and the door opened. I stepped out and asked him the reason why he was being so rude and nasty. He kept laughing and answered with a fist that barely missed forehead. I knocked him out dropping him on the curb. People on the bus clapped and laughed. I took a bow and went home.

What I'm trying to say is that sometimes a more direct approach is required regardless of the other person's condition. Don't suggest and sugarcoat. Just be assertive and say it straight out.
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Juju does your Mom actually like visiting your in laws? Could this be a way of getting out of it?
Taking a shower when you have all the things going on that she has with her health may feel impossible because it is so exhausting. She can probably hardly lift her arms over her head to take off her night gown. Does she actually smell? many people get by with a wash down for years when they have no running water. In my early years Friday night was bath night. We had a tub in the kitchen and Mum lit a fire under what we called the copper which was a metal tub that the clothes were boiled in and then transferred the water to the tub. If you are worried about UTIs make sure there are plenty of wet wipes in the bathroom so she can clean the genital area regularly.
Given all that do what you can with the wash up and take her anyway as long as she does not smell really foul. If there is any chance of incontinence take a Chux to cover the car seat and to put on the chair in your in laws home.
With advanced COPD and oxygen 24/7 I am surprised she is able to do any of her own personal care. Your mother has reached the stage where she will suddenly start to decline very rapidly to the point of being bedridden. Have you thought about how you are going to manage then or will a nursing home be the next step.
This is about far more than reluctance to take a shower.
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Juju, call up your back ups- sister and the other person. Negotiate with sister a trade off if she can cover for you while you and hubby go visit His Parents. Do you have a famous pie that sis loves? Something to show that you appreciate her covering for you. Or call the other person and offer an incentive for this last minute request.

Once you start stopping your normal living outside the home, the more she will try other areas.., even to the point that you can't go to your room but be with her 24/7. I'd find a way to go and just leave her behind since she refuses to shower.
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