My 93 year old mother in law refuses to change her clothes or bathe. She hits me and curses at me and eventually I give up. Nothing has worked, HELP! - AgingCare.com

My 93 year old mother in law refuses to change her clothes or bathe. She hits me and curses at me and eventually I give up. Nothing has worked, HELP!

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So that means she goes way too long between these two things. I have tried the many things recommended through my reading these forums but none of it works. Any suggestions? HELP!

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We went out and bought a shower chair and put it in the walk in shower and showed it to her as being just super comfortable to sit on as she had been taking sponge baths at home (and probably not regularly) prior to that We then showed her how it worked and the first few days we let her know we were taking a shower (ok making a big deal about the fact that we were going to take a shower and change clothes FOR TODAY!). I also hung out near her the first few times she took a shower so that I could help her with the water temperature. She seems to be now taking a shower on a regular basis without nagging. We also talked about how since we live in a warm climate one has to shower every day to keep from smelling (ie to each other not to her).   It actually went much better than I had anticipated because when she was in her home she frequently said she had bathed when we knew she hadn't.  For some reason the new environment seemed to help or maybe it was the super nice shower we had.  (although she endlessly says she wants to go home).
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I fell very fortunate that I do not yet have to deal with someone not being able to do their own bathing . My MIL is able to do everything for herself still...my problems with her are almost 100 percent her refusal to cooperate because she doesn't think she is dirty or in need of reminding ,etc. if I didn't make her something to eat or drink she would starve because she forgets to eat. She doesn't seem to recognize she is hungry or thirsty anymore. I know I don't have all the physical problems to deal with like most of you (not yet anyway) but it is still difficult. Thank you everyone for all your ideas. It is giving me a lot to think about.
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I understand how you feel, Connie. My husband is bed bound, and I know that keeping that private area clean in very difficult. My husband is 350 pounds and with all the skin folds from his weight, it’s darned near impossible. But more than one doctor has told us that this area is probably the most important regarding cleanliness. My husband doesn’t have dementia, but my mom did and when an ER nurse told me she wasn’t very clean “down there”, we had to start testing her monthly for UTIs.

If she is mobile, what about a sitz bath? A nice warm soak cures many ills. I personally can’t stand those removable shower heads on a hose. The spray is too harsh. I feel like I’ve been power washed. On hubby, I use a bucket of warm water with no rinse soap, sometimes twice a day.
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Your father does sound like my MIL and yes I also think the actors are way too compliant but, I found the information the CareBlazer videos offer is very valuable. If my MIL was as easy to reach as those in the videos I wouldn't be on this forum for sure. As for meds, here is my dilemma. She only takes thyroid medicine and a vitamin. She doesn't blood pressure problems or anything. She has been taking the same ones for more than 40 years and when I try to add a new pill she gets suspicious and will only take the ones she is familiar with. when she broke her hip she wouldn't even take pain medicine not even a Tylenol ! I've never seen anyone handle pain the way she did and does even now. If there is a liquid form I could put it in her morning drink. I guess that is what I will check into next.
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I had the same issue with my 95-year-old father. He would not let me touch him. I couldn't get him to change his clothes or bathe. He reeked of urine. I asked the doctor what I could do and he suggested a bathing aide. That did not work because my father refused to let anyone near him and the aide left and did not come back. Then we tried to give my father Atavan when he became agitated. It has helped and he allowed the aide to give him a bed bath. Perhaps talk to your doctor about what medication to give to calm your mother-in-law down so that she is receptive to at least getting a bed bath. Also look into getting an aide; the right aide can help making the experience pleasant instead of a tug of war. I also watched the bathing videos on UTube and I felt that the actors were too compliant. I was not able to reason with my father; he would push, punch, kick, you name it if I tried to come near him. How do you deal with that? What worked for us was medication and a good aide. I wish you all the best; I know it is so hard. For me it was trial and error until the right combination of medication and aides finally got my father clean.
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Conniec; I am so sorry ! I do know what you are going through ,if you have tried all of the above ,maybe she has to get a medicine change up ,is she on alzheimers meds ,I knew people who had alzheimers ,and started takeing the meds, I want to say Arisept they showed MUCH improvement.I send my prayers, and wish you all the LUCK!!!
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Oh and I do have easier coloring books for her and her sketching materials. I leave them where she can see them in hopes she will use them.
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Thanks, and yes maybe I'll have better luck with the pads. My biggest problem with my MIL is that she's so uncooperative . She refuses to do anything I try to get her to do. She's a stubborn woman ,always has been. I believe in some ways the dementia has worsened her stubborn personality. I spent several hours last night watching CareBlazers videos. I tried the Teepa Snow ones but found the CareBlazers ones more helpful to me . Not that the Teepa Snow aren't good I just preferred the CareBlazers. By the way I keep an adult coloring book at her house for myself. I find it helps me relax while I am watching her. I can't read a book because I would be constantly picking it up and putting it down and that's not a good way to enjoy a book. I have tried to get her to color or draw but she won't. In her younger years she was quite the artist so I thought this would be an easy thing to get her to do , but no. I did get her to sketch me on a napkin once but that was months ago.
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@ConnieC - my mom refuses Depends also, but has times when she cannot control her bowels. Poise pads makes a super long and slightly wider incontinence pad that goes inside your underwear. Mom now uses these. They don't always catch all the mess, but they work better than just underwear or regular size pads, and save her a lot of embarrassment. 

I think maybe she is similar to your MIL, in that she equates the Depends with "old people wearing diapers" and does not want to admit to her physical decline. She is comfortable with the pad though - I think because it's similar to a large menstrual pad, which she's more familiar with. She also has her own garbage container with a liner and a lid, where she can deposit the used pads after she rolls them up and wraps them in tissue (again, like a menstrual pad).  She's also fine with them because they're technically made for bladder leakage, which is something lots of women who've given birth have problems with (so again, she can disassociate from the idea of physical decline).

Maybe give them a shot? I believe the one we use is labelled size 6 (the biggest).
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thank you all for your ideas and I am learning a lot from everyone's experiences . My mother in law won't shower or take a bath, she has been sponge bathing for many years, long before her dementia kicked in. (old school I believe because she was very poor growing up and that's what they did) I do give her privacy and make sure the bath area is warm. I lay out her clothes and while we are having breakfast I suggest it's a good day for a bath. She agrees but then the bathing doesn't get done. I keep on her about it all day and one of two things happen.....she gets defiant and demands I leave her alone ( this is also the time she starts getting mean towards me )says she just took a bath or she is agreeable but won't do it. I offer to help her and she declares she can do it herself , that she's not a child and says that'll be the day when she needs someone to bathe her. I have already tried the baby wipes angle and she won't use them either. I leave her towel, wash cloth, wipes etc. out for her. I'm hoping she will see these things and it will make her want to clean up. She goes behind me and puts everything away so I spend the day putting them back out. This back and forth goes on all day. She does have times when she messes her pants and I have tried the "you smell" thing and the "it's not healthy" angle. She denies messing her underwear (I think because she is embarrassed ). I have found her messy underwear in some tucked away places and also caught her cleaning them in the toilet. Even during those times she denies the fact that she didn't make it to the toilet. I think she just doesn't always recognize the urge to go and therefore she messes her underwear. I have considered pull up type underwear or diapers but I am concerned she will try to flush them down the toilet. My sister in law works in a nursing home and says this happens often. So not sure I want to run the risk of the toilet overflowing and or having costly plumbing needs on a daily basis. I think she would flush them to hide the mess from me. I do think I'll try it though and see what happens ...fingers crossed.
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