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Ok, my sister and I decided that mother at 86 was no longer able to stay in her home alone. We split the responsibility by her living with me 21 days and her for the 10 days a month my husband I'd home. She has accepted the situation but is extremely stubborn about such things as taking a shower ( we have both provided shower seats and hand held nozzles as she cannot get in or out of a bathtub). She won't bathe unless we make her and it is always a battle. Then she takes the shortest shower in the history of showers. 3 minutes tops. She refuses to wash her hair more than once a month. Refuses to go to beauty shop to get hair done. Tries to cut her own hair leaving her looking ridiculous. Refuses to use her cane unless constantly reminded to do so. ( she has already fallen once). She has numbness in her feet so she is very unstable on her feet. REFUSES to use a walker. Eats crazy things if we are jot around to prepare her meals. ( eggs and peanut butter together ugh). Wears the same clothes for days on end and doesn't care about her appearance in public. She was always very particular about her appearance and this just floors us!. If we push these issues she pretends her blood pressure is going up and refuses to discuss the situation. She is mean to the great grands and loathes our husbands. Help! I'm at my wits end on how to effectively get her to cooperate!

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Thanks for all the tips. Mother does not have dementia or so her doctor says. We have asked. She is very sharp mentally. Just very stubborn. We did have a loooong talk about a week ago where i told her everything that was bothering us. I reminded her that when i was a child she took care of me and made me do things i didnt want to do "for my own good". I told her how much everyone loved her and wanted to repay her for all that she had done for us by taking care of her. I also told her that since she was not a child that i couldnt turn her over my knee when she misbehaved but that we could move her to a facility where they would make her cooperate. I asked her if she had rather live with people who loved her or with strangers who were only there because of a paycheck? She tried to argue and turn things back around on me as she does but i stopped her and told her that she needed to stop and realize that she was 87 years old, unable to live alone, and needed us. I told her that she was going to have to start cooperating with us and stop making our lives miserable or other arrangements would be made. It was hard to say. But... she is showering and even let me cut and style her hair the next day and since has asked me to roll her hair for her after her showers! She wanted me to get the grands an easter basket and went with me to pick out the goodies. Anyway. Things are better. She is also being more social and actually cooking some decent meals for me when i get home from work. I fix her a lunch for the next day and she's eating better. Maybe she just needed a good dose of reality! Thanks again for ask your replies.
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I've always been a sucker to try new flavor combos, I may very well go down to the store and get me a bag of Fritos because I have a thing of syrup I don't know what to do with since I don't often eat waffles or pancakes (I sleep in late every morning).
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Jeanne! LOL! Maple syrup and fritos?!
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gladimhere, I agree with you about separating the important stuff from the trivial. And also recognizing what is bothering us vs what is bad for the loved one.

Peanut butter and eggs? What's the problem? Sounds a whole lot better to me than maple syrup and Fritos.

She gives herself haircuts? Unless there is a risk of her cutting herself, this doesn't sound like the end of the world. I once to a stack of card with me on vacation that said, "Thank you for your patience. My husband has dementia." Maybe the caregiver here could carry cards that say, "I DIDN'T cut Mom's hair. She did it herself." :) Because sometimes I think what worries us most is being judged by others when we are out in public.

There are waterless shampoo products that the loved one might be willing to try on a do-it-myself basis.

I assume there is a blood pressure cuff in the house. Take her claims seriously. Fuss over her. Let her know you are on her side.

Be glad she uses the cane if you remind her.

Attitude toward family members is probably the Big Stuff. First, make sure all family members understand the nature of dementia. This is a good teachable moment. See if her doctors are able to find some therapies that allow Mom's true personality to come through a little better.

I'm not necessarily advocating continuing the in-home care arrangement. But if you do, Witsend57, try to learn not to sweat the small stuff!
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Just curious, 1RareFind. Have you ever cared for someone with dementia who didn't want to bathe? Did your suggested method work on them? Or is this theory?
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What I was thinking besides the idea of hiding the scissors, try one of those big long padlocks and put all of your scissors on the pad lock and lock it. The lock is just in case she happens to find the scissors, and if she does, they'll all be locked up on the padlock! 😂 Another thing I thought you could do regarding her hair is to make her go to the beautician, or you can actually get some back up reinforcement and actually do her hair, yes I'm saying force the issue. A person with dirty hair is actually more likely to develop some kind of bacteria and even attract bugs. This is what you don't want to happen. Doing her hair may actually be best by picking her up and putting her in the shower and actually bathing her like nursing homes do with people who won't shower. This is actually a form of G.I. bath. I strongly believe more families need to just follow the examples of the nursing homes by doing this. I saw a post where someone spoke about this and I really like the idea because I know nursing homes won't put up with filth. When the shower is over, you can have a big fluffy robe ready after drying the person off so they don't get cold. Another idea is to make sure the bathroom is warm enough. As for confronting this person and them mentioning their blood pressure right during that time, I'm sensing this is just an excuse or even a crutch they use to dodge the issue. That's when you really need to press forward and keep on keeping on.
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My mom was very resistant to bathing and changing her clothes among other behaviors that developed as her dementia progressed. It is actually quite a common occurrence with dependent elderly. Arguing only served to upset us both.
Finally set a firm strategy and schedule. I marked her shower days on her big calendar. At bedtime, when she put on her pajamas, I laid out clothing for the next day and immediately removed her worn clothes to the laundry. On shower nights, I hid her TV remote until she completed her shower. She whined but the strategy worked for quite well.
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I agree with what the others said that she may have some form of dementia. Normal primary care physicians may realize there is dementia, but be reluctant to do anything about it if they've known the patient for a while. If your mother isn't already seeing a geriatrics doctor, I agree with the others that it is time to switch to one.

Your mother sounds a bit like mine. My mother has Diabetes II, hypertension, and vascular dementia. Although she is not very competent, she hates to be told what to do. She wants to eat terrible food when left to her own devices, and she no longer wants to bathe. I've been with her for 6 loooong years now. I've learned to just let things go if they are not critically important. I do feel that she needs to take 2-3 baths each week, especially since she has trouble with urinary tract infections. She'll take one on Saturday with no problem so she'll be clean to go to church on Sunday. I have to remind her of infection to convince her to take a shower at other times.

My mother always knows more than me, so convincing her I know best is not useful. I have to tell her that the doctor or some other expert says to do something. If I act like I know, she'll just assume I'm a dummy and ignore me. :)
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She won't go to get her hair done? She eats eggs and peanut butter? Those sorts of things you really need to let go of. You will wear yourself out and raise your stress level. Learn to pick your battles. You will no be successful at winning everything so concentrate on the things that really matter.

I agree with the other RM and JG. It sounds as if it is time for a visit to a neurologist or geriatric psychiatrist. Very likely dementia of some sort.
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BTW. Witsend, I'm glad you brought this to the top of the list again. Sometimes questions get buried if there are a lot of other questions at the same time.
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I see that you haven't filled in your profile. Witsend, why did you decide your mother was unsafe at home alone? You were probably right -- but I'm wondering what she has been diagnosed with.

I agree with Rainmom that what you describe is consistent with dementia.

Our mother lived with my sister and her husband for 14 months. During that time she spend one long weekend a month with two other daughters and the fourth daughter came to where Mom was living -- all of this was to give the caregiving sister some respite. It worked well for us but I could tell it was difficult on our mother changing where she slept several times a month.

Mother fought showers. I have a walkin tub and she saw those in ads and thought that was great so we all felt at leasted she'd get a good soak one a month. Ha! She fought tooth and nail to avoid that. Finally I told the caregiving sister that I wouldn't try any more. I saw Ma for 3 or 4 days a month. I wasn't going to ruin one of those fighting about bathing. My sister was able to insist on showers by being very firm, but it was a struggle.

When both arthritis and dementia got worse we placed Mom in a nursing home. The first week a couple of us were there when the aide came in and said, "It's time for your shower now, Jean. I have this big fluffy towel and some clean clothes for you." And off they went with not even a murmur from Mother. My sister and I looked at each other and asked, "who is that woman and what have they done with our mother?" My mother is much more willing to let "professionals" help her with hygiene than she was with her family!

If your mom used to like the grands and was at least polite to her sons-in-law -- that is, if her current attitude is a change, it could be that she is embarrassed at not really remembering who they are.

I think that "joint custody" often works with resilient children -- they can be flexible and understand that some rules are a little different in each place. But little ol' ladies with dementia have a hard time being that resilient. This might not be the ideal arrangement for her.

If she is not able to accept and enjoy your husbands and children then having her in your homes might not be the best arrangement for you.

At the very least, have her health checked out and start any treatments that may help. And have some in-home help at both your house and your sister's. You might consider starting with a bath aide.

As for getting her to cooperate? Sorry to say, but that doesn't seem very likely if she does, in fact, have dementia.

I'm glad my own mother had an "assisted living" period in my sister's home. Sis did a great job. But we are all very glad the Mother is in a care center where trained people get paid to help her with hygiene, where there are activities every day, and she can socialize with people her own age.

Do you and your sister live close enough together so that you could find a care center that you both could conveniently visit often?
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Witsend- sorry no one replied. I've just returned to replying after a break from here - so here's my two-cents. What you're describing are some very common signs of dementia - especially the bathing aversion. I was clueless about dementia until I found this site and was near mental collapse trying to deal with my mothers odd behavior, unreasonableness and sheer meaness which had reached a devastating level. My mother went three years without an actual shower! Can you get your mother to her doctor for a referral to a neurologist or a geriatric psychiatrist? Getting a good diagnois is your best start, then hopefully medications can be prescribed to help. You might also want to consider a Plan B for your mothers living arrangements. Most likely she will continue to become more and more difficult to care for a time goes on as dementia is a progressive disease. So sorry!
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Thanks for all your answers!
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Sorry, but she probably is starting to get dementia. Or she may just be old and cranky. Either way, it is frustrating. But it is a fact that most people HATE being told what to do.

Elderly people, with or without dementia, can start to dislike bathing. It is dangerous, slippery, wet, maybe cold. Don't try to convince her to bathe. Ask her what makes her dislike it. Maybe the pressure of the shower bothers her frail skin. Some people want the water to be lukewarm, but want the bathroom to be very very warm. Maybe you can address some of those problems.

If she doesn't use her cane, she probably doesn't remember that she needs one. She may think she's only 50, and doesn't need it. That leads to a lot of falls. I always want to nag and bully my husband, but I have to remind myself that his brain doesn't work right any more. I have to suggest and cajole and manipulate to get him to do the safe thing, because he DOESN'T REMEMBER.

Eggs and peanut butter together doesn't sound typical, but think of Thai food! They put peanuts in everything.

As for changing clothes, maybe you can sneak in and take her dirty clothes at night to keep her from putting them on again.

You are going to have to choose your battles if you want a pleasant home life. You are going to have to manipulate the environment to change what she does. Maybe hide ALL the scissors so she can't cut her hair. Or else keep her clean enough (Which is not perfectly clean) but quit worrying about what she wears.

Telling her what to do won't help, but giving her two choices might. Try not to point out her errors to her. She needs to keep her pride.

It is very hard to take care of someone who doesn't cooperate. I really sympathize with you. Come back here to rant. We understand.
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