My mom refuses to take a shower or change her clothes. She can't always make it to the bathroom. Her legs are disgusting - dead skin, feces and very enlarged (probably congestive heart failure). The smell is overwhelming. Her legs are literally black due to the dirt/feces/dead skin. She refuses to see a doctor or let anyone in her house (besides myself and my two sisters). We bring her food and clean her house for her. My sisters and I don't know what to do - we ask/plead/suggest/rationalize about the shower. About six months my oldest sister and I gave her a shower. She literally screamed at us - such a horrible situation. My sisters and I are worried when God takes her, can we be held responsible for not providing better care?

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Both my parents had Alzheimer's and their lack of personal hygiene is one of the first things to go. We had the Doctor order a home health aide come weekly. I agree with other posters here- you need outside help. Have APS evaluate her. My Dad was very stubborn and I had to get them involved. He eventually went to a memory care unit but that battle was pure H*ll. I don't think your Mom is capable of being home alone anymore and having her not a danger to herself or others.. . It's time to get the professionals involved. Best of luck to you - it's so hard..
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You're worried you might be held responsible... Good Lord.

The swelling in your mother's legs is probably excess fluid. This means that her blood will be very dilute. This means that the oxygen supply to her brain is inadequate. This means that your mother cannot possibly think straight and must feel physically dreadful.

She needs medical attention, and she needs her fluid balance brought under control. Let her scream, just do it. Call APS for back up if she won't co-operate, and emphasise her physical condition and her mental state.

It should, God willing, be possible to improve her condition radically without too much trouble to her. Focus on that - how much better she'll feel after treatment. She still may not thank you, mind, but that's not the point.
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Dear Youngest123,

I'm so sorry to hear what you and your sisters have been going through. I know you love your mom and just want her to be safe and clean.

I would talk to a social worker and see if they can help with accessing community resources. I wonder if its the side effects of any new meds affecting your mom's behaviour. Or if she has vascular dementia? Something sure doesn't sound right.

My dad was also very grumpy in the last year of his life. He had swollen feet but I didn't know it was congestive heart failure. And he also started to refuse showers. I didn't realize he was dying. Here I was getting so frustrated and annoyed this his refusals with showers. I failed to see he was dying. He needed more medical attention. He might even be alive right now, if I had made him go into a nursing home.

I know its not easy to manage. But I hope you can get your mom the help she needs. Thinking of you.
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Call your local Area Agency on Aging ( if you Google your county or municipality, there should be an option for Aging or Services for the Elderly. You want to get them on the phone and ask them what you should do in this heart-rending situation. They may suggest that you call Adult Protective Services.

Are you in touch with mom's doctor? In general, doctors can order a bath aide to come out to bathe elderly patients. Most of them seem to have the knack of making bathing palatable to resistant elders. Call mom's doctor if you can and see if this is a possibility.
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Your poor mom and you daughters need help. I'm so sorry. I think I would call the area on aging to make a visit and evaluate her condition. Often elders will listen to others who appear in a position of authority where they won't their own children. You don't need to tell her you called them. This should help offer you some protection on negligence and perhaps offer you some help. The condition you describe is at the level that sometimes allows the agency to take action.
If her legs are swollen they sometimes crack and this can lead to cellulitis which is bad even with clean skin. I can't imagine how bad it can be with the situation you describe.
Does she have a doctor? Perhaps you can get a prescription for an anxiety med that you can slip a bit of in a sauce or pudding to help relax her so that she is easier to handle before you try the shower again.
But really I think you will have to try to get her taken in for evaluation and medicated. The filth will lead to worse problems. Hygiene is the first thing to go with dementia. Do some research on the ADL (activities of daily living).
Your mom isn't safe to be left alone. While you may not be held responsible for her condition, you may he responsible for not reporting it to the authorities that hopefully will do something about it. I would start with them and let them see it at it's worst. There are many threads on this site about poor hygiene. Use the search to read more about this tough subject.
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