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My mother-in-law (86) is living with us. She wears the same clothes every day. If she does not have her clothes she will not get dressed

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Llamalover. I was suggesting a weekly visit to a beauty shop as an alternative for washing at home once or more weekly. Many older females have made a weekly trip to get their hair "done" and may be more willing to do this than have a caregiver do it at home. It is usually more comfortable with the sink in the beauty shop. My ideas were for the minimum needed for personal care. merely guidelines not rules.
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Veronica91, I do completely understand that it is extremely difficult for an elder to take a bath or shower, but it is important to keep clean. However, I disagree with the weekly hair salon trip. My aunt's hair did stink on the fifth through seventh days, but what was the harm in that? None, really, as for the most part she was in the company of elders who had lost their olfactory sense!
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omg-mom does the same thing! my sis and I buy her nice comfie outfits,yet she will wear threadbare clothes from 1980!I started laying out her clothes for her,and slowly giving Goodwill her old stuff.Shes not a fan of showers or having the hair washed-i insist @ least 1x aweek she really doesnt move around much ,its a compromise
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Bathing is a hot topic for the elderly. So lets stop a moment and consider what is absolutely necessary.
Younger people who have easy acess to bathing facilities seem to feel it necessary to shower and wash their hair one or more times a day. Their skin and hair can stand this kind of abuse and if it complains they can buy all kinds of creams and potions to deal with their dry skin.
Once one reaches the senior years and one is no longer working or very active the needs diminish.
I feel it is perfectly acceptable for an older woman to have there hair washed once a week at a beauty shop. It usually takes more than a week to smell bad if other conditions don't exist. I do actually wash mine twice a week otherwise it stands on end from the static besides which it is thining. As far as bathing is concerned there are certain areas that need to be washed once or more daily but this does not necessarily mean getting totally naked and standing in a draughty shower. Washing the face makes you feel fresh and some simple cream will keep it smooth. makeup of course should be properly removed as it is often toxic to the skin. Now going down the body removing clothes above the waist allows for under arms to be washed and if necessary anti perspirant applied. I do see this as an option if the person does not sweat because these products can cause irritation. Under the breasts and other skin folds also need regular washing and if necessary any prescribed products applied as directed. The top garments can then be put back on and the bottom half exposed. Again attention to the skin folds is essentially even if the person is very thin. Wash and dry carefully. The genital area should be washed daily or more often if there is any incontinence. It is fine to use wipes as long as the area is kept really clean. It may be embarassing but every effort must be made to thoroughly inspect these areas. It is not necessary to say "lie on your back and spread your legs" It can be done with the person lying on the side or bending over but it must be done especially when a catheter is present. This is the area where pressure sores are most likely to start. Thrush is most likely to occur in the genital area and skin folds in the groin and under breasts and in those lovely apron folds in the belly of the obese. As someone said try and stay ahead of the game and pick your battles depending on the circumstances. The feet are also an important part of the body especially in diabetics. They can be dealt with seperately from a shower if that is easier with less hassle. They can sit in front of the TV and soak the feet and then get a nice pedicure. Any problems should of course be dealt with by a Podiatrist if possible. Medicare does cover this every 12 weeks. these are just my thoughts but good common sense should prevail.
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I hope we all support everyone on this site. This is hard.
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Wannek: And i support you.
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Bless you Nhinchliff,
I give my 89yo mom weekly showers because she won't allow more. Although she only has to sit in the chair, everything is an effort for her, thus part of her resistance so i understand what you did. This site is to support one another and I want you to know I support you.
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When my mother was still living at home she wouldn't remember to shower or wash her hair. The only time I got her to hair salon is to tell her she had an appt. that SHE had made and she sure didn't want to stand them up. She would go then. Since she wouldn't wash her hair between visits, all she would do is put hair spray on it. And on it. And on it. Finally the hairdresser told me she couldn't wash it out and that it would have to be cut. I told her to go ahead and do what she had to do to get all the gummy hairspray and odor out. Bless their hearts, they just don't know what they are doing or not doing. If we can just keep one step ahead of them and help them through their journey it makes it a lot easier on us and them. I tried to anticipate my mom's reasoning on something and come up with a plan. Not always easy but it helped quite a bit. And sometimes I had to let it go. Just like with my grandsons.....pick my battles.
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To Llamalover47: I did not say I didn't shower every day, I said " I hate taking showers and especially washing my hair. I think the main reason is it just takes so much effort, even to put on socks, especially after a bath when my skin is damp or has a lot of moisturizer on it. That doesn't mean I don't do it.

I have beautiful skin, a result of very good genes, and I take excellent care of it, especially my face. People say I look at least 20 years younger than I am. Look at my profile pic. I was 79 there.

I also take offense with what you said to AmyGrace about her mom at the beauty salon ("...the stench!) That was inppropriate.
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AmyGrace: that is a sad state of affairs-your mom puts makeup on dirty skin! I honesty don't know how the stylists at the hair salon can stand the stench!
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My father is 87 and lives in an assisted living memory care place. He too does not like to change clothes or take showers. He will insist on taking his dirty clothes out of the hamper and put them back on. The staff has to hide his dirty laundy so he won't wear it. My father doesn't care if he has stains on his clothes, or if his hair is uncombed, which is the complete opposite of what he used to be before his dementia. I feel this is a part of the dementia and it's something we have to accept rather than try to change. As much as it bothers us.
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Much of the adaptive clothing has greatly improved lately now manufacturer have seen the need. There are plenty of wrap around clothes with velcro cloures and no need to wear hospital type gowns with your butt hanging out.
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Buck and Buck has adaptive clothing that many elderly people find to be easier to change. Go here: buckandbuck
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To nhinchliff.....I am not 84 and I love to stay in my pajamas some days too especially when the weather is so bad! :)) Unfortunately for my mom, she would not wear anything new she bought or we would buy together. She would love it at the time and then say where would this come from and try to give it to my sister or a neighbor. After she went to her facility they could get her to shower and change clothes(one of her favorites of course). They are very good at what they do and plus it wasn't me or my dad "telling" her she hadn't showered. She would get mad and say "of course she had!" After she got to the point of not caring or knowing it's much easier of course. This is an FYI for all of you getting to the point of taking your loved one to a facility......clothes get thrown into hot water and shrink dried (they do the best they can) and not ironed. So clothes don't hold up very well. My suggestion would be to buy if possible 2 of each things and keep the closet to a minimum as suggested in above blogs. Also if possible, do the laundry. I made the mistake of letting them do it for way too long and some of her better things are now in trash or donated. Good Luck and God Bless
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Llamalover47, funny thing about my mother. She won't bathe, wears filthy clothes and is a slob, leaves urine soaked pants all over, BUT she NEVER misses her hair appointment and always puts on makeup!
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The hair smelling thing-oh yes, my aunt's hair would stink because she only got it "done" once a week at a beauty salon. Then she would get mad at me for washing my hair daily. My mom's hair (her sister) would also start to have an odor as well as her teeth because she couldn't brush properly
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Rhinchliff, you really DO need to bathe regularly. Your skin is the largest organ on your body and needs to be kept clean, else infection could set in.
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Elders have lived through "The Great Depression." As a result, they save everything! Old rag of a garment included!
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Also my mom would want to wear some old rag of a garment when she had brand new clothes that I bought her! And the mismatching thing about drove me crazy.
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Actually, when I had to live with my mother out of state (yes I had a life but had to give that up) I would go through the same thing with her about the changing of clothes. She could not bathe properly and her garments quite literally stunk! She had lost (among other things) the olfactory sense. She wanted to help me out with less laundry to do, but I could not get near her for the odor!
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Veronica, thank you so much for all the good advice and encouragement. I do have a shower chair and a removable shower head so I am half way there. When he is willing to change his shirt I put it in the dryer beforehand. I have a hairdresser come to the house about every 2 months to cut our hair but he did not want her to cut his this time as he said the shorter hair would make him cold.
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Peggy I am afraid you just have to let him get mad once a week. I can totally understand his reluctance but it is just too tiring for him to manage.
get the bathroom really warm so you need a Tshirt. Get the fresh clothes all warmed up in the bathroom and two bath sheets. You need a shower chair in the shower again warmed with the hot water. get him in there however you can and help him undress. Wrap him in one of the warm towels and onto the seat. keep the towel around his shoulders and have him lean forward while you wash his hair. Give him a washcloth to keep the water our of his eyes. Wash and dry the top half still sitting. Wash his legs then have hinm stnd up and deal with the private parts. You are his wife so there is no privacy problem.
Use a flexible shower head do not expect him to stand under a wall shower. You can buy one and easily swap it out with the fixed head. Put the other towell on a chair or the toilet and assist him onto that and wrap the second towel round his legs. Carry on drying and dressing him from there. pull over the head clothes,Ts sweats or sweater and hoodies that open down the front. As far as the shaving is concerned. try getting him an electric razer that he can use in his chair or just let him grow a beard. tell him you care becuse you love him and want him to feel comfortable. It sounds as though he has reached the stage where it is physicaly just too much effort for him to manage this alone. If you can make it as pleasant and comfortable as possible and you might find he actually volunteers. next time you see his Dr ask about getting an aide in a couple of times a week if your efforts don't work.
Make sure hubby has had all his morning meds at least an hour before shower and if he has inhalers have him use them half an hour prior. let him have plenty of time to relax and nap before the next meal.
I realize you think he should be making the effort and still doing things for himself but there does come a time when you really have to take over and continue to encourage him. Taking a shower really is a big deal for someone as debilitaed as he is.
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My Mom is also content in staying in the same clothes for days on end. She can no longer pick out clothes for herself or dress herself properly. I've learned that I have to "catch the wave" i.e. when she is in a good mood and amenable, I"ll say something like "Hey Mom, you asked me to help you with a bath, is now a good time?" That sometimes works and allows me to change her clothes. She really hates the bath and having her hair washed. What I found interesting, though, is that when I take her to get her hair cut, she does not give the hairdresser a hard time for washing her hair. It's almost worth it to pay the hairdresser a few dollars to take her in once or twice a week for a hair wash.
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I have this problem with my 71 year old husband. He hasen't bathed in ages and wears the same clothes not for days but months, changing his shirt only if we have to go to a doctor's appt. He won't let me wash his hair but maybe every 2 months. He does shave about once a month and sleeps in his clothes. He sleeps in a recliner due to his breathing problem.He is with it and says it makes him " cold" to change his clothes, wash or wash his hair. He has COPD and a heart problem so is pretty debilitated. I don't know what to do with him and if I try to push the issue he gets mad or says to me, "why do you care"?
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My late Mom was picky too. No collars, nothing itchy, no stripes, must have pockets etc. Pink preferred. I began to shop at Thrift Shops. Lot of variety, with her requirements, at minimal expense. Look for big buttons, but not too big!, Pull on pants are a must. Fold them nicely, use tissue paper and place them in a 'fancy' paper shopping bag.
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Everyone's responses have been helpful and I've been going through the same thing with my mom. She never bathes. And the only way I used to be able to wash her hair was when I would color it. She would go along with that for several years but then she started protesting it and is working her way to being all grey. Her hair smells and I kept bugging her to let me wash it and she kept putting it off. I finally got her in yesterday (nearly broke my back leaning over the tub) but got it washed. Like our 84 year old friend above, she says she's too tired and doesn't want to be bothered. In the end, she never even remembered the whole fiasco. I also got to cut her hair too. I might try the dry shampoo spray till I can get her to wash it again. As for the clothes, I agree, the best bet from my experience is to buy new things that are similar/identical to what they were wearing. I had bought the same style of top in different colors thinking she'd wear them, but she kept putting on the nasty light purple top. I finally found a replacement and tossed the old one. I think that's the only solution since I'm not there to pick out her clothes every day.

I know I'll be back on here reaching out to everyone when my dad passes and how I can effectively get her into assisted living. I know she will refuse but she can't be on her own and won't allow any help so I think moving her closer to me at that time would be best- it will all be disruptive no matter how you slice it.
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I can sure sympathize on this one. Mom has 'her' clothes that she has had for at *least* 20 years. Won't accept anything else. If she rejects a piece of clothing, I just take it to a charity organization (after washing it thoroughly). About the showering issue: I wonder if part of the problem, beside it being fatiguing, noisy, and a dramatic sensory experience, is if the room is cold and they get chilled?
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I try to keep my Mom's closet minimal also, we only have 1 type if jeans and 1 type of shorts. plenty of warm tops. She can only wear crew neck summer shirts because nothing else stays on her shoulders and I can not do straps. Kmart online has elastic waist shorts that I replace as needed no buttons or ties here she just can not work them and walks very slow so no time to waste in the bathroom messing with that.
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nhinchliff, thank you for that elder perspective on this issue. I can totally relate to the way you feel, and do not always get dressed too. Too many showers does tend to dry out the skin and those needing help often are not allowed (quite rightly from the caregivers point of view) to have the water as hot as they prefer. Like you I really hate washing my hair, it really dries it out and the static makes it stand on end if I wash it more than twice a week. Congratulations on remaining independent
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I am 84 years old and still take care of myself. I can relate completely to this issue. I've gotten so I wear the same clothes every day for 5 or 6 days in a row. I hate taking showers and especially washing my hair. Fortunately, I don't go out much so I rarely get dirty. Sometimes I stay in my pajamas all day long, so for the most part my clothes do no get soiled. And I don't perspire.. I think the main reason is it just takes so much effort, even to put on socks, especially after a bath when my skin is damp or has a lot of moisturizer on it. I find bathing and washing my hair exhausting, so I guess I just try to avoid it.
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