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I've been patient for her to do it, but it's not happening. so frustrating. I've offered to assist her if needed, even assuring her of privacy, nothing is working. There's bench in the shower for her to sit on, and adjustable shower head she can hold. She assures me she's taking showers, but she's not. Her skin is dry and very scaly, her hair lies flat and matted. Is she resisting on purpose, just to assert herself?
The frustration is tremendous!! I feel that as her daughter, making huge sacrifices to enable her to live in her own house, she would at least hold up her end of the "bargain" (we are a team working together day to day). Am I asking for too much, is she truly not able to take a shower, or just resisting it to assert herself? She has mild dementia (memory and cognitive issues) but is capable of living by herself for a few days at a time. She dresses herself, can fix simple meals, takes many naps.
I have raised two daughters, now grown with their own children, and never felt the level of frustration I am experiencing now. I have no authority to take my mother into the shower, or give her a consequence if she doesn't. She simply doesn't understand (or is faking)...at my wit's end about this. I know to an outsider it seems like a silly issue, to shower or not to shower. Maybe I just need to remove myself from her for a few days and she will come to realize how important it is to me. But not counting on it.

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Thanks everyone for the support and suggestions regarding the shower dilemma:-) It's such a relief to talk and learn of some options to the issue. I was
in a dark place not knowing what to do - and deeply appreciate your thoughts.
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I think it's an erroneous assumption to think that your mother isn't disciplined enough to take her medicine, especially if she's moving the pills around. More likely she's not sure what they are, why she needs to take them, or when. To me this is reflected in part by the fact that she's taking too many at one time. But THAT is a concern.

It's not as if she's making a conscious choice to reject them - she's just confused. It's part of dementia.

I think there's a time when we as caregivers go through a shock before we can adjust, and that shock is that so much confusion has set into our parent's brains that they're just not able to do things they could before. And it's not just physical; it's mental as well. You're probably going to have to step up your caregiving for her, or make arrangements for some in-home help.

I'd focus on the medicine issues first; she could overdose if she takes too much of something.

I think it's time to re-evaluate what assistance she's been provided, develop alternate plans, and make some additional arrangements. It's also time to recognize that her cognition levels have changed, that the lack of "cooperation" is more likely a lack of comprehension. This is when the frustration and annoyance need to be set aside, as she most likely has no idea what she is or isn't doing regarding the issues you cited.

As to the shower, Maggie's idea is good; make it a happy event.

Your mother may not want to shower because it's cold for older people to strip down; they become chilly, afraid and uncomfortable, and don't want to do it again. They just don't have the ability to keep warm as they did when they were younger.

If you have a towel warmer such as those that Europeans use, or can pop a towel in the dryer so it's warm when she gets out of the shower, that would be helpful.

You can, as Maggie suggested, make a happy event of washing her hair one day; do the body wash another day, and find a way to give her a special treat if you can....something she enjoys doing. Perhaps a walk if she's able, a drive to a favorite place ... a park, beach, someplace she enjoys so that for what brain patterning can still happen, she associates a pleasant event as the aftermath of cleaning up.

Showering is desirable but if we who are younger force elders to accept our standards and frequency of bathing, we're only in for frustration. Unfortunately, we have to adapt to them, and recognizing that they can still keep clean without a full immersion shower is the first step. And they don't need to bathe as frequently as we who are out and about.

Some other things to consider: you can get no rinse shampoo and body wash; we bought a bottle (or maybe it was a can?) at Walgreen's for a little less than $10. There are a few different varieties; one we initially chose wasn't effective at all.

The "No Rinse" brand is what I wanted; it's used in hospitals. It's applied, worked in, and towel dried. No shower or ordeal getting in or out is necessary.

I would also contact the Alzheimer's Assn. and ask if they have a Creating Confident Caregiver course. I've taken it; it's free, and it's excellent. It will reveal so many new insights into the mind of someone dealing with dementia.

I wish you luck in this; think about it and perhaps you'll feel less frustrated as you find ways to approach the subject in a different manner.
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I can fully understanding not wanting to take a shower... I recently broke my shoulder and I made every excuse in the book to myself not to get into the shower.... I was so afraid of falling because I didn't have complete balance having that "broken wing".

At least once a week I forced myself into the shower because I needed to wash my hair [didn't use conditioner to stretch out the days, conditioner adds oil to the hair]. Inbetween times, to bathe I used Huggies Natural wipes... made for a very quick bird bath, so to speak. Whew, what a relief :)

It's interesting, once you find yourself in such a situation you see from the other side of the coin what an elder is going through.
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Irishspirit25,
I will also add in response to your realization that other things were going awry, that simple things that we don't realize can be very difficult for an advanced dementia patient. I would check her bills, especially things like insurance and taxes. They may not be paid.

Be aware that she could suddenly walk out the door with no idea where she is or where she is going.

Place medications out of her reach, as she could take too much, forgetting what she has already taken.

Also, if you leave prepared food in the fridge, they may not realize there is food underneath the foil. If they can't see it, they don't know it's there. So, I had to wrap it in clear plastic so she could see there was food in the container.

Posting notes and reminders is rarely helpful, because they forget to read the note or if they do read the note, they can't process what it means.

They forget to wipe after using the bathroom and may become incontinent. That happened pretty quickly with my loved one.

The degree of decline is individual, but you will see by the posts on these boards that most dementia patients will eventually experience these deficits. There really isn't anyway to convince an advanced dementia patient to do better or change. It's not within their ability.

I wish you and your mom the best. I know it seems overwhelming, but there is support. I would try to get that for you and your mom.
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You're getting good advice here. I would put emphasis on Sunny girls comment. Read all you can about dealing with the different stages of dementia. There's tons of good info on this site. Bathing, driving, eating, med control, anger, lots of us are dealing with it.
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Just adding that we recently had an issue with taking her medication properly. She "seems" to have no concept of disciplining herself to take doses during the day. I say "seems" because she has done it OK in the past. She either ignores the pills, moves them around, or takes too many all at once.
Talking about this is helping me so much, actually. I now realize that my mom has more advanced dementia than thought, and I'm so close to her, as her daughter, I haven't noticed.
I have tried to prepare wholesome meals for her, leaving them in the fridge so she can just microwave them easily. If not she grabs anything -whatever it is - and eats it. Like everyone says on here - losing her ability (or desire) to reason.
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Make up a pretty dollar store basket with a plush washcloth, a pretty netty thing, some Dove soap, aromatic liquid shower gel, a few kinds of pretty talcs, plush slippers, a fuzzy robe, a couple luxurious towels! Some pretty body lotion and a sample-sized cologne. Give her the basket and tell her:

Mom, I don't expect you to shower, but I expect you to be clean. Your body and your hair. If it's too much work for you, I understand. And I'll look into a personal care aid to come give you a bird bath and hair wash once a week. But I think you can do it yourself. I'll wash your hair. Come on, let me see how we can get you set up in the bathroom." (To the kitchen sink, whatever)

Your mom is a candidate for a fungal outbreak in any folds of skin...nasty open sores in her genital area from the ammonia in leaked urine. These goodies over and above the nasty odor.

My mom got so she wouldn't shower. I think, personally, that her skin was super-sensitive to the prickles of the water. And it was either scalding or freezing. (In her mind) but she sure enjoyed having the personal aid give her a bird bath once a week. Most of the time anyway. ;)
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I would read as much as possible about dementia/Alzheimers. You say that is what your mom has. Do you know how well she is functioning? Often patients will tell you they are eating, bathing, etc., but they are not. Their brain is no longer able to process things and to take care of their daily needs. I would suggest that you stay with her for a couple of days and actually see how she is functioning. You may be surprised at what she is not doing for herself.

Also, this is time where use of the stove can be dangerous. Keep this in mind.

It's quite common for dementia patients to refuse to bath. It is frustrating to us, but not intentionally wrong on their part. Not cooperating is a symptom of dementia. It's not something we can easily understand, but it goes along with the condition. Their sensory receptors change and they find a bath scary, painful, annoying or just not inviting.

My loved one is in a Memory Care Unit and even there, they have to use techniques to get her into the shower. It may or may not improve. There are ways to help, but they require planning, time, and a lot of patience. Most people can't leave their job and devote this to their loved one. Some can, but if not, I would explore outside help to come in or finding a place for her that can attend to her needs. Good luck.
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