My mom is only 66, and is in relatively good health, but she refuses to bathe. It's becoming a serious problem. - AgingCare.com

My mom is only 66, and is in relatively good health, but she refuses to bathe. It's becoming a serious problem.

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The smell is so horrible, that I can hardly be in the same room with her. She also refuses to brush her teeth or comb her hair. When I ask her to take a bath, she becomes saddened and offended. I ask her to comb her hair, she threatens to shave it off. She is able to work in her garden and walk the dog, so I think she's physically able to bathe. I don't know what to do. I bought a shower chair and changed the shower head to a hand held sprayer, and she still won't bathe (with the exception of a few special occasions). She is also refusing to go to the doctor. She denies being depressed, and her hygiene problem is not healthy as she leaves filth and grime everywhere she sits, including the toilet. If she catches me spraying or cleaning up after her, she gets angry and offended. She only retired a little over a year ago, and she was bathing and had excellent hygiene until about six or seven months. I've begged her, and then finally demand that she showers, but she still refuses. What is going on with her and how can I help?

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Gigi7908,Sorry if it sounded like a threat I thought I was just being truthful ....I believe honesty is our BEST Avenue, being evasive,and white lies ,are like being in a soap oprah.I guess maybe I was not clear weather or not your mother was diagnosed with alzheimers, dementia, or other mental capacities .I thought she had dementia for sure c
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What, if anything, happened between the time she retired and the beginning of poor hygiene? Did her health change? Did she miss the camaraderie and value of working and getting a paycheck? Did she become socially isolated? Friends moved on and she didn't?

Retirement in and of itself can be a contributing factor to depression.

I would suggest ways of keeping clean, such as no shower/no rinse products, but it sounds as though she's segued into some anti-social behavior, almost as some kind of protest.

MaggieMarshall posted some good suggestions on keeping clean.

This is one of her posts, but it's not the one I was looking for. Still, it's helpful. And there are other hits as well that might be helpful.

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/mom-makes-excuses-for-not-bathing-170874.htm

https://www.agingcare.com/search.aspx?searchterm=MaggieMarshall, bathing
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I agree there is something going on here. She could have several things going on and needs labs done. You need to get her to a doctor.
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This is a symptom of dementia. Have you noticed anything else that might confirm this possibility?
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Gigi7908, I am so sorry that you are dealing with this-it is difficult when in other ways she appears to be capable. But there may be a component of depression that is happening. Additionally, she may have deeper psychological issues. I cannot see a way to improve the situation without a medical consult.
I am never in favor of threatening vulnerable people. But you can speak to her and say that her hygiene may be impacting her health and that can be used as a way to declare someone incompetent. This is heartbreaking because the actual reality is that adults can choose to be filthy, if it is not impacting someone else (other than your very real concern) in the end, without some cooperation from her, you may not have any recourse.
Is there any way you can advocate an MD visit so you both can get flu shots? You can speak to the doctor prior to the visit to let him/her know your concerns.
Best of luck.
Margaret
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GIGI7908, just wanted to add that maybe your mom is scared to shower alone did you offer your assistance? Or to stay in the bathroom with her? I told my Aunt it was bath day and walked away ....when I came back she was all Dressed for the day ,and refused what she calls her torture day ! Haha that generation just hates water I think hahaha!!Good Luck
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GIGI7908, just wanted to add that maybe your mom is scared to shower alone did you offer your assistance? Or to stay in the bathroom with her? I told my Aunt it was bath day and walked away ....when I came back she was all Dressed for the day ,and refused what she calls her torture day ! Haha that generation just hates water I think hahaha!!Good Luck
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Gigi7908,I had a similar problem but I spoke with a Dr he prescribed Celexa it's a antidepressant,it helped immensely!!SHE would only wash in the sink ,never a full shower! Whew she needed to! Also her hair it was a big controversy, she acted like the water was HURTING ..but after a while the bath time got much easier .I flat out said "you SMELL"...YOUR HAIR LOOKS GREASY,AND YOU LOOK HOMELESS " I said "if you do not bath your Drs will think I do not take care of you and put you in a NURSEING HOME".This helped!! good luck keep us updated
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I agree with Irish. Something is off here.
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I think getting her in to see her primary care dr. would be first step.
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