Mom will not let me help her with a bath and she lies that she has taken one. Any Advice? - AgingCare.com

Mom will not let me help her with a bath and she lies that she has taken one. Any Advice?

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I have been in and out of posts and I feel like a broken record, but when I am feeling down, I return to find a hug or another post and I do not feel so bad. My biggest issue lately is convincing my mom to bathe. She absolutely cannot do it herself and she flat out lies repeatedly that she just took a bath. I cannot get her to change her clothes because she will tell you, "I just changed my clothes."

I used to be able to coax her into the bath, but she fights me like a small, hateful child. Her bath consists of sitting on the bath chair in the tub and I provide as much privacy as possible and I do it fast. I let her believe she is doing it herself, but then jump in and wash her back and hair. I hold her arm so she can stand to wash her bottom, but it appears those days are over. I have never experienced her hatred like this before. "It is humiliating," she says. I tell her I understand and that I am here to only get the bath ready and help her with her hair.

After baths prior, she would thank me repeatedly and tell me how good she feels. Can you even imagine? I even taped her telling me this on my phone, for future use, but she refuses to watch it when I try to show her as I beg her to get into the bath again.

When I took her to her Dr. apt. a few weeks ago, she allowed me to wash her hair, put curls in it and I even apply some make up. She washed her bottom that day and we changed her clothes. She has been in those close for 3 weeks now.

What can I do? People say hire someone. Ha! We are very close to putting her into a nursing home and I tried to have that conversation with her, but she shakes her fist at me and says, "I won't go."

Her dementia is by stroke. She is not getting better but she is also not getting worse. She is suspended somewhere in the middle. She is fine so long as you do not mention ANY TYPE OF HYGIENE!

I am so tired of worrying about this...

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Inthestorm - you are definitely not alone. We're always here for you if you need to talk, vent, blow off some steam, or just need a shoulder to cry on. This caregiving bit is not for the weak of heart, that's for sure.
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Mom hasn't bathed in years. She still has the same cake of soap she had six months ago. I don't know why she doesn't smell, but she doesn't. She wears the same clothes every day until we force her to change and take the clothes away to wash them. She won't let us help her, she won't let an aide in the door. We are waiting for a room in AL, but I understand they don't force them to bathe either. I hope they have a magic wand or better powers of persuasion than we do. Mom isn't Mom any more now that dementia has taken over.
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Hi everyone, thank you for your feedback. Mom definitely has dementia which came on slowly and then hit hard with a stroke. It is painful to see and painful to live with (because it is real hard to NOT see yourself in the future). So not only are we dealing with aging itself, we are dealing with facing the end in the process--a double hit. It is very difficult to fake vibrancy of middle age under these circumstances. So for once, I am not talking about mom, I am talking about myself. Because mom has no memory of our discussion on Saturday or that she even had a bath. How perfect that today is Groundhog Day--based on the movie--because every day, we start over again. She has no memory of my begging and pleading with her to do one simple thing--let me help her bathe. I am pretty certain the anguish for mom is embarrassment. Something that was once so private, is gone. She does not breathe so well so there is that, it is cold (you are depending on another person to make the temperature right), she is missing a breast (thanks to cancer), to name a few. How sad for both of us we have ended up here. I really did not think about this 10 years or so ago. I guess I chose to not think about it.

So it is nice to know that when I show up here, I am not alone.

I have a new topic so I'll start over.
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Inthestorm, you did exactly the right thing. You found a coping mechanism that worked with your mom. It may not work for everyone, but it did for you - good job!

What you're experiencing is a very common - but unfortunate and unpleasant - aspect of aging, dementia and Alzheimers. (Not saying your Mom has Dementia or Alz., but just saying this is one of the things that goes with it.) We all have to find different ways of dealing with it and getting our loved ones into the bath or shower, by whatever means necessary (short of force, of course).

With my mom, who used to be the 2-shower-a-day type of person, but now won't shower unless made to, I have to remind her of how many days it's been since her last shower, and the importance of staying on schedule with her every-other-day shower. When she resists, I allow one nap, then she has to shower (sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't). On really bad days, when she outright refuses to shower, I have to firmly remind her that: a) she is not the only one living in the house, and there's an odor from her not washing; b) I am only trying to do what's best for her; and c) if she doesn't shower and gets a skin infection from bacteria growth in her skin folds (she's a large woman), the doctor will want to know why she's not showering, and *I* will be the one looked at for elder neglect - and I'm not letting that happen.

Some elders are easier to manage than others - but it seems the bathing issue is a common one that we all deal with at some point. It's just a matter of finding what works. Don't feel bad about the "little white lie" that you told her in order to get her to bathe - chances are good that she won't ever realize you did it. In some cases, the end justifies the means.
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Inthestorm, Absolutely brilliant move! The guerilla style moves! No chance for her to think about it and debate you! HA! Use the same tactic for facial shaves. I wait til mom uses the potty and when she opens the bathroom door, I already have the electric shaver in hand. "Have a seat!" I say with a smile " There's a coupla hairs I need to take off." She can't talk with the shaver on her upper lip, she just "Mffl Fmml Dmmmt Nddt It" while I buzz the fur.
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Well, well well, we had a bath on Saturday. I filled the tub half way and waited until she had to use the bathroom and then I ambushed her. When she sat on the pot, I started to slide off her socks and pants and when she figured out what I was doing, she started to yell at me that she just took a bath--but I said, "wait a minute, you just told me it was time for a bath!" I confused her confusion. It was a white lie, but it had to be done. Because she is somewhere in the middle, she hides her confusion by confusing me so I just gave it back to her.

Now I get to start all over again, next week. It only took 10 minutes. Super fast, super scrub, hair washed and she washes her privates. When the lotion was on and her hair was curled, I looked at her and said, "Tomorrow may never come for one of us--why do we want an argument to be our last memory."

For some reason, I want to believe she understood me at that moment.
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You call the MD and fess up. Don't cover for her, don't enable her. He can order a bath aide or OT person to assist her. Chances are she will be more cooperative with someone sent by the MD.
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My mother is 93 and also refuses baths and clothes changing..I hear it's common with dementia...I talked to her dr. About and he told me to write a letter, sign his name insisting she must bathe...well, I thought about that, then found out she's entitled to 6 hrs of home health aide per week, I don't need 6, all I need is enough time for a bath!! now she gets a weekly bath from the aide...period...they won't take no for an answer and my mother complies
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I think those who have Alzheimer's/Demetria will think a whole week is actually one long day. With the days all running into each other, sure a Tuesday bath will feel like it was yesterday instead of five days ago.
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Sometimes, when there is such a quick change in their demeanor, it can be attributed to a UTI. Might think about having that checked out.

What I do with my MIL, is take her dirty clothes out of her room after she goes to bed. If they are still there the next day, she will put them on again, but if not then she will put on clean clothes. We fight about the shower just once per week at this point. I tell her I know she doesn't like it and I know she doesn't think she needs it, but we will do it and we will do it quickly and painlessly if she'll just calm down.

Wish things were better for you and your mother.

Hygiene is probably the #1 battle most caregivers face, and there is no stock answer. Why won't she wash her hands after toileting? Why is that such a hard concept for her? She gets totally offended if I even suggest washing them. It's gotten to the point where I have to pick my battles, otherwise I'd be harping all day long about something or other.
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