I just found out that mom has not only been wearing the same clothes for several days out of the week, but sleeping in them too. What do I do? - AgingCare.com

I just found out that mom has not only been wearing the same clothes for several days out of the week, but sleeping in them too. What do I do?


Mom is 81. I had to nicely tell her that she's wearing dirty clothes to bed, and 'my mom' always told me to wear my clean pj's to bed. I understand she lives alone, and if she's not going anywhere, what's the sense of changing clothes, somewhat, but in this instance, she wore the same clothes to the cemetery, and two days afterwards, PLUS wearing them to bed. I had to shame her somewhat. It gets hard, because I don't want to yell at her! Let me finish by saying she lives alone.

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Does she smell or look dirty? Does she shower at least 2 - 3 times a week.
If she looks presentable I would not worry too much about it. Most people tend to wash themselves too much. Some people never get out of their PJs and others sleep in their daytime clothes.
Maybe it is time for her to need a higher level of care.
People change a lot when as they age and conventions do not seem as important.
It is more important to make sure that Mom is safe has enough to eat and clean surroundings
Helpful Answer (18)

The first thing I did when I saw the title of this thread was laugh. Then I glanced down to see what I was wearing. Then I read the post and the responses.

I am 72, living alone, and in my right mind. I prefer sleeping in pajamas, but every now and then I fall asleep in my clothes. And sometimes I leave them on the next day, unless I will be leaving the house! Sometimes I don't get dressed until I've been up several hours. And, after all, this is just a matter of changing from one top and bottom of cotton knit to another top and bottom of cotton knit! Big Deal.

Occasionally when I visit my best friend, even late in the afternoon, she'll be wearing pajamas. If I compliment her on them she'll say, "Yes. Aren't these lovely? They are nicer than anything I had clean to wear today, so I decided to leave them on while I do laundry." She is more fastidious about her appearance than I am, but that has been true since we were both in 5th grade, so no big changes there. But we feel we have had our careers, raised our children, nursed our husbands, and as retired widows we are allowed to value our comfort at home.

Arlicohe, what you should do, if anything, depends on what your mother needs. If she has a hard time changing clothes, maybe you can help her shop for things that are easier to get on and off. If she no longer cares what she looks like and generally thinks not much is worthwhile, maybe encourage her to see a doctor and describe her feelings to him or her. If she isn't dirty or smelly and she is OK about her clothes, maybe you should ignore it.

And if she is recently bereaved, all bets are off. How we behave while we are actively grieving is no indication of how we'll be the rest of our lives. And mourning is not the same as depression.
Helpful Answer (11)

My mom is 87, and she often wears the same comfy outfit for several days, as she is just around the house and doesn't get "dirty". She does take a bath every day, and clean undies,, wears her nighty to bed. I have to admit I also wear the same jeans for a day or two if I am just putzing around.. We have always done this.. so maybe its a trait in some areas or families? If we get dirty we toss them in the hamper! If is not smelly I wouldn't worry too much
Helpful Answer (9)

Hmmm... I've been wearing the same clothes for 3 days (I've been off work). I don't think that necessarily means I need extra help. And by the way, I slept in the shirt.
Helpful Answer (8)

If appearance has always been important to her, approach it knowing that she probably doesn't want to look unkept either. So, she's either having a cognitive problem in knowing or seeing that her clothes are dirty or in physically changing them. It may be difficult to pick out an outfit if she's starting a cognitive decline and still managing all of her own home. At some point as we age and slow down, something has to give. Also, buttons, zippers, and hooks can become difficult to see or manage. She may be getting more prone to feeling cold. Showering becomes incredibly difficult (and cold) for many elders, try as they might. Shaming will make her feel worse, move the problem (perhaps to not grocery shopping as often or cleaning her kitchen properly, things others can't see, but are more important) and possibly make her hide other things from you as she becomes less able, thinking you'll shame her for that too. Clearly, you're caring and don't feel great about shaming her. Don't be too hard on yourself. Everyone has less-than-perfect moments recognizing and coming to terms with aging parents. Maybe an apology for being hard on her will open the door to talking? In any case, try to keep the big picture in mind, and think about if she could use a hand at home once/twice per week.
Helpful Answer (8)

My wife would change clothes 3 or 4 times a day just in case we went out or some one might stop by which neither happened. She died August 18th of Alzheimer's and I would love to see her changing clothes and instead I'm giving them away. Stop by and help her pick a change of clothes. Just love her. Please don't join the shoulda, coulda, woulda if only Ida club. :))
Helpful Answer (8)

My mother does that.I think she does put on clean undies though. I just feel bad telling her that she looks like a walking food stain.
Helpful Answer (7)

I get this. Mother has to lean over so far to get to her plate, she always has food all over her shirt/blouse. We kind of salvaged that by having her buy these sleeveless "housecoats" that cover her clothes, and if she is going out that day, she will hang up the top she's going to wear, for later.

For the most part, she'd fairly fastidious, but she is getting a lot slower and somedays does spend the day in pjs.

Her physical comfort overrides all. I know she is down to two showers per week, but she cleans her face and private areas daily (very prone to UTI's).
Helpful Answer (7)

My DH doesn't have dementia of any kind according to the testing but has "age related memory loss" - that said, he does this and I was basically advised to let him be comfortable.

It is very difficult for him to manage buttons and his shoulders & arms ache with changing clothes too often. So as long as his health is good, I let him be. It is embarrassing to him ( and most seniors I would think ) to need so much help just changing a shirt.

He is 96 and I had to learn that I must pick my battles. As long as he is happy, comfortable and healthy - he is still here with me. If and when living gets too hard for him, he won't want to be here anymore.

I hope I am saying this all the right way - but they become almost like babies again and if you constantly nag, yell and complain, then no one will be happy.

Just try not to fall into the same routine yourself. That happens too.
Helpful Answer (6)

Arlicohe, you mentioned that your mom went to the cemetery - was there a recent death, and could she be mourning a loss?
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