My mother-in-law is not bathing nor is she brushing her teeth. Any tips on how to navigate this? - AgingCare.com

My mother-in-law is not bathing nor is she brushing her teeth. Any tips on how to navigate this?

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I believe she has forgotten. Over the last few weeks i noticed my mother n law has not bathed or brushed her teeth at all. i can smell it on her when i take her out. i have someone who comes in twice a week to give me a break, i made up a small little laundry bsket with everything she would need to get cleaned up. i even put some adult wash cloths in case she was afraid of the water. well according to the caregiver all my mother n law did was run the water and hide everything in the basket and then say she she showered. when the caregiver called her out on this she got upset and just wanted to go for a walk. i also noticed that she is sleeping in the same clothes she wears all day. i need any helpful hints would be appreciated.
thanks lisa

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Susan, oh my gosh... when I saw your post I quickly did some research and found info from the American Cancer Society. Talc in it's natural form contains asbestos which we know can be harmful if inhaled on a regular basis.... talc for home use has been asbestos free since the 1970's.

As for talc causing cervical or ovarian cancer, the jury is still out as to how much of a risk. If one likes to use powder all over themselves, so far corn starch power has been risk free.

Good heavens, I wonder what will be next? Scary cosmetics? I would never leave the house without my eye liner or lipstick.
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There's a reason we can't get those lovely smelling talcums anymore....they've been found to cause cervical cancer, because women put them *down there*. It's a shame - I loved scented powders, but you can't get them anymore.
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txcamper, ah yes.... I also remember Tabu, Sharimar (sp), and Chantilly :)
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Just a comment to freqflyer. Years ago you used to be able to buy perfume scented talcum powder at any dime store or drug store, but not so much anymore. And when you do find it, it's not cheap. We just use baby powder, but I have often thought of the stand-by gift of my youth - sets of cologne and talcum powder. Emeraude was a favorite in my family and I still think of how my grandmothers and aunts smelled so good!
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I've read about disposable washing cloths that one uses without having to get into a bath or shower.

And those *bum* cleaning wipes that are being advertised on TV, I use something similar for myself and they are great [I even use it on an overweight cat who can't quite reach where she needs to groom herself]. Even though the carton says flushable, I wouldn't recommend flushing it down the toilet.

Decades ago I remember how the older ladies use to smell of roses, either from a perfume or a talc. Wonder if Mom or MIL would use the talc, or would she empty the whole container during one use?
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Some more thoughts. Does she have arthritis in her hands? If so, I found that buttons and bra hooks present such difficulties that she wasn't dressing properly. I have found that VELCRO fastening on blouses is a God-send and I just help her with her bra. They make front fastening bras, with hooks and loops, but she would still have trouble with um..straightening things out. So we haven't gone that route yet. Elastic waist pants are the only kind we buy anymore and loafers are her shoe of choice. I talked about this because if she has problems with her fingers or her balance, changing her clothes may just be too much trouble for her, and the lack of bathing is just a side effect of that. MIL is greatly offended if I tell her she smells, so I use other methods to achieve my goal, but I will tell you that what works one day, may not work the next. Personally, I cannot imagine a worse way to age. Well, maybe if there was excruciating pain involved, that would be worse. But her arthritis in her knees and hips is pretty painful too. Just makes her miserable. And totally losing her independence? Not the way she would've wanted it either. Sigh, I'm sorry. I guess I'm in a mood today.
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Oh, yes. My mother pulled those stunts and that is exactly what they were. After caring for her, killed my sister, she went to the NH and low and behold - is just fine. Dressed, showered, hair done and nails manicured. She is 95 and quite with it, but my sister babied her and let Mother get away with not even eating a healthy
meal. It sounds like it is time for full time care, for your sake and your MIL.
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Please read the 36 hour day, I believe it's called. It's been years and I really need to re-read it myself. I am assuming you have moved in with your MIL? Mine lives with us. We have gone through what you are now experiencing. If you are kind and gentle, they will usually respond in kind. If you live with her, you can be responsible 100% for what she eats. Make sure she gets proper nutrition first and then snacks. Their taste buds get so out of whack as they age, plus they lose their sense of smell. My MIL adds salt (substitute) and pepper to all food before tasting, therefore I under season food as I prepare it. She doesn't have the problems with edema she used to have. Think along those lines as you prepare the meals.
She is probably VERY angry at being called out for her hygiene, as you can imagine you would be too. I'm sure she's confused and angry at the aging process. It's a tricky thing, getting people to allow you to help them bathe and dress. In general, always talk to her with a kind voice, but don't give her many options. Too many options just confuse them. Use short sentences and make sure you have her attention. Always smile and have a soft look on your face, no matter how you feel personally. Being a daughter in law caregiver is a tricky place to be in. You may have a history that will have to be put aside. Your husband will rely on you for all the ooey stuff because he cannot imagine seeing his mother in this light or helping her to toilet or bathe. He can, however, take her out to dinner, or play games or read to her. He can stay with her while you get a manicure or take a nap. You may have to suggest this to him.
The outbursts and the dead stare are all part of the dementia. There are various reasons for dementia, Alzheimer's is only one type and not what I am dealing with. Years ago a doctor told us it was vascular dementia. Just keep reading and asking questions. The doctor should be able to help you, I agree with taking her to one who specializes in geriatrics, as well as one who accepts Medicare.
As a PS. Bathing and changing clothes is just so much trouble. This CAN be a sign of depression or maybe she is just old and tired; mention it to the doctor at her visit.
There are many different opinions on this subject, but most of them agree that a daily head to toe shower or bath is not needed nor good for their delicate skin. It gets dry and flaky so easily. Use body sprays to help cover the odor, but wash the perianal area daily. Hand her a warm washcloth and let her do it if she will. Sorry this is so lengthy, I feel like we are in the same shoes. Lucky you for having a caregiver 2X week, she should be more experienced in getting people to bathe or at least clean up. I dilute the mouthwash, half and half, it was too strong for MIL. Big HUGS to you.
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Lower sugar diet will help you, but what meds is she on? Half a mg of Ativan and an excellent professional caregiver (not so easy to find) have solved this problem for me, but up until now, I've been through this same exact thing, and I don't know if what worked for me will work for you, but I have a big mouth and can just keep on talking, so when my aunt said NO, I said, you have to, you stink, (no I don't,) yes, you do, and none of this is said with malice or nastiness of any kind, just very matter of fact, you just don't take no for an answer and you don't lose your temper and you go step by step, you completely exhaust yourself, and when they take a swing at you, you grab the wrist and just place the arm out of harms way and say, don't do that, that's mean, now, let's get your shirt off (no I'm cold) the water will be warm, let's go (you're killing me) no, I'm not, you'd know the difference, believe me, here we go now off with the pants...like that. Once I'd get her in the shower, and I hope you have a shower chair and a hand-held shower head, get the chair as warm as you can with the water, give her control of the shower head and cue her, use liquid soap and a face cloth and move as fast as you can, generally, I'd wash and she'd rinse. She'd howl the whole time that I was killing her and call me names and I'd just ignore her and say, do under here...etc. When it came to brushing teeth, I did mine with her, including washing out with rinse, made her copy me. Many agencies lie about whether or not their caregivers are trained to deal with dementia patients, but on my third agency, I was sent a woman who is a gift from God, I have her four hours a day, in the morning, to take care of all the personal hygiene matters and laundry, and the other day, she spent an hour in the shower because it felt good. The story you tell about the caregiver is familiar, she is not trained to work with dementia patients because she'd never let your MIL get away with it. I've also found that bathing in the evening lets you put on the PJs and then when the battle starts the next morning, you say, hey, no shower now, let's just get dressed for the day, and then you go through it with her and do most of the work.
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we are currently testing the waters on wheat and gluten fee, thank you for your help
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