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She may be embarrassed, upset that she is losing her independence, or both. My sister and I care for our mom, and this was the case with her. It takes patience. It takes letting her know that you love her from the bottom of your soul and that you want the best for her and to help take care of her like she's always taken care of you. I also assist with the morning care of a man with Alzheimer's. I get him out of bed and get him bathed, dressed, and fed. If he wets the bed (he does wear pull-ups), he doesn't want to get out of bed because he is embarrassed, so I have to coax him. I ask him if he wants breakfast and of course he says yes. So I ask him to help me out, which perks him up, because someone who feels they are losing their independence wants to feel needed. So I tell him I need him to help me get him ready, and he replies "you want me to get up?" Of course he is still embarrassed about being wet, but I tell him its okay, we can fix it.
So if your mom is having memory issues, give it a try. I know every situation is different. I love taking care of the elderly. Don't always know what to do either. But every morning I ask God to help me to be an encouragement, an inspiration, a hope and a blessing, which is half the battle because I feel empowered in a loving, patient, peaceful way.
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Cinderella5001 Jan 21, 2019
God Bless you for all that you do!
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I'm assuming your mother uses some type of incontinence pads, but not with good effectiveness. My mother lives with me and has general stress incontinence at times (most notable with a cold) with unpredictable incontinence because of spasms from her spinal stenosis; she used pads for decades. As she got older and lost some dexterity in her hands from arthritis she had more problems managing the pads; mobility problems made it more difficult to get from bed to toilet in time too. Mom switched to incontinence panties; it took several trials to get the right size and brand for fit and comfort. I use a waterproof mattress pad with a softer mattress pad and double sheets over it for her bed. It all fits in one laundry load and I have four sets so I can change the bed while I'm washing a soiled set. If the upper sheet and comforter needs cleaning, I have extras for that too. I also purchased several washable waterproof chair pads in brown and dark reds to match the furniture and my car seats and we use them in Mom's favorite spots. I wash most things within hours of soiling but occasionally may wait 24-30 hours. Hot water and white vinegar removes the smell from almost everything in one wash. Items that set longer or are heavier soiled may require two washes.

My mother has not been resistant to managing her incontinence, but she has resisted other changes as she aged (insisting reminder notes, labeling my kitchen shelves, and some monitoring via the security system were not necessary) so I feel I have some knowledge of the argument your are facing. My mother has short term memory problems, so sometimes the issue is getting her to change the panty when needed. Most days she had very limited leaking and would wear the same panty all day with no problems. When she had more leaking and the panty needed changing more often she sometimes needs to be reminded.

I would start a conversation with your mother with something like "Mom, I know you don't smell it, but others can smell the urine in your pads on your person and particularly in your bathroom trash can. Unless you want the first thing someone smells when walking up to you or into your house is stale urine, we are going to have to change how we manage your pads." I would stress that other people need to make these changes as they age too.

I handle my mother's wet incontinence panties like a used child's diaper - placing it in a plastic grocery bag, then twist it closed and tie the handles together, often after wrapping them around the bag to maintain the "twist" completely closing the bag. The grocery bag goes into a frebreze kitchen garbage bag that is taken out to the garbage can every 1-2 days. My kitchen trash can is built into the cabinets between the kitchen sink and the dishwasher so even though it doesn't have a lid, mild escaping smells are "contained". If you don't have a similar containment I would suggest using a trash can with a lid. Mom doesn't smell, her bedroom/bed/lift recliner don't smell either. You do not smell urine when walking into or through the house. If you can get your mother to adapt, you can at least greatly reduce the smell on her person and in her home. Good Luck finding out what combination of stuff works for your mother.
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pronker Jan 19, 2019
Excellent advice and I can see the process you went through to fine tune the problem. The OP's mom likely just doesn't smell or if she does, isn't offended because she's so used to it. It's a real problem to be around someone like that.
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Oh, I feel your pain. My dad had incontinence and denied it.

No one wants to say anything but I can't deal with foul odors, period. So I opted to make it all about him. "Dad, I don't think you realize that you have a urine odor, i know how much pride you take in being your best, so here is how that can be dealt with. I hate to say anything but I don't want you to be embarrassed by this. No shame, it is very common but I know you would be embarrassed."

He finally got that I wasn't trying to be mean, so he begrudgingly wore the briefs, loved the body wash I bought him and changed his clothes more frequently.

He thought he could use mouthwash instead of brushing his teeth, 14 of his top teeth were broken off at the gum line and it was vile smelling. He actually told me he knew he didn't have bad breath because no one else but me ever said anything about it. I guess he didn't notice that they moved back or to the side and conversations were very quick and to the point. I just let him be mad and kept after him until he agreed to see a dentist. Top roots had to be surgically removed and a top plate made, bottom teeth need to be cleaned every 3 months. But he never had bad breath.

Anywho, let her be mad but keep giving her solutions to the odor. Don't give up, she may eventually get it and do something or let you do something. Vinegar is a great odor remover, it kills the enzymes that cause it.

Best of luck, this is a tough situation.
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Levans2008 Jan 19, 2019
Great answer and ideas of how to communicate. Don't give up !Find solutions to care for your loved one.
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Well, I plunged right in and told FIL I need him to shower more than once a week. He became very angry and asked me why? I told him as gently as I could that he doesn’t smell nice anymore and neither does our home or our cars. He said he doesn’t smell anything bad and would not accept what I was telling him. To which I replied: that’s fine if you don’t accept it but that won’t change the fact that what I am saying is the truth. He would not talk to me the rest of that awful day but the next morning he apologized to me and took a shower. He also has been changing his clothes daily! I took the advice of another poster here and bought a diaper genie for all of his disposable garments and I cleaned everything ( including bedding, towels and clothing) with borax and vinegar and laundry detergent. I still can smell some urine in his room so I think the carpets need cleaning but oh boy! things are smelling better around here thank heaven!!! I’m sad that our relationship has become strained due to me being the one to force the issues but I am happier when we go out now and FIL looks clean and smells clean too.
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Isthisrealyreal Jan 27, 2019
Good job!
Arm & Hammer laundry detergent is a good carpet shampoo, gets rid of the smell but needs to be rinsed. Doubling the work.

Maybe arm & hammer carpet sprinkle stuff would help.

Have you poured straight vinegar into the areas that are obvious? This is the 1st, best odor remover,. Let it dry before putting arm & hammer anything on it. Science project!
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A daily sponge bath. Shower as often as possible. Have everything ready so all you have to do is put your loved one in the shower. I put a hand towel on the plastic shower seat and wet it with hot water. It cools before they sit and it warm. It's not comfortable sitting on a cold plastic seat. Have a large bath towel or bath sheet so they can wrap up immediately after getting out of the shower. There are also liners to put in the pull-ups. After bathroom wipes help. Antibacterial soaps also help.
This has all helped me in my care for others.
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I see nothing wrong with being matter of fact about it and not make a big deal about it. Urine-soaked clothes need to be changed and washed. The person's skin needs to be washed. The furniture needs to be cleaned. Learn to say something like "Mom, we have to get these wet clothes off you and into the laundry." After getting the bath ready, say something like "The doctor says it's important to keep your skin clean and dry. I've prepared a nice bath/shower/sponge bath for you." You can keep the word "smell" out of it but you do need to accomplish the task at hand, which is to keep your mother's skin intact. Broken skin is an invitation to infection.
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Heart2Heart Jan 26, 2019
... most won't listen... my mother won't... and, washing and cleaning takes up a whole lot of the 'childs' life... who should be 'living' their own life and have some kind of quality of life that they deserve... The 'parents' that are 'lucky' enough to have a 'child' (but, is an adult ...) should respect and trust their 'child' for all the sacrifice they give.... but, many don't... Why do parents treat their 'children' so disrespectfully?! Such a 'power' play is only destructive.
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Telling her will do little good. She can not smell it. Just like the woman that seems to bathe in perfume, the smoker that does not smell smoke many times you can not smell your own self. What's that commercial for that spray....you are "Nose blind" I like that phrase!
If you seem to get angry that will just frustrate her, embarrass her and like any one she may begin to argue. And as we all know no one "wins" any of these arguments!
Is your Mom on her own or is she living with you or Assisted Living? Memory Care?
If you have control over her clothing I would remove all her "real" underwear and replace them with Pull Up type briefs. (Please do not call them "diapers" that will probably make her more resistant to using them)
Mattress pads should be waterproof. Get several so you can replace them often. When you wash the waterproof ones they take forever to dry so have at least 1 spare.
Washable pads or disposable absorbent pads on couches, chairs and in your car.
Keep a spare change of clothes with you at all times. (I had a backpack that I carried extra clothes, briefs, wipes, gloves, thick-it, water and snacks. Think of it as an adult form of a diaper bag)
There is a spray called Urine Out it is a cleaner but can be sprayed on carpet, floor...to remove the urine odor. It works very well.
Another spray that I used a lot of was OdorBan worked better than sprays like "Fabreeze" [sp?]
If your Mom lives alone it might be time to think about a move. Into Assisted Living if possible, Memory Care if she can not be on her own or in with a family member.
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Pattymyname2 Jan 19, 2019
Great ideas. What is Thick-it ?
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I have read all the "diplomatic" responses people give and it usually does not work as the patient is in denial and can't smell what we smell. I think it is time to get "down and dirty" - no, not really. But we have to very firmly tell them they smell, they are up in age and can't smell what we do. Simple stating of a fact. Then tell them that you cannot and will not allow this to continue and this is what is going to be done to fix the problem. Let them rave and rant - you have to do what you have to do to stop this once and for all. After all, YOU are now in charge and you cannot allow them to affect your quality of life and future. You must be tough and take charge. Just ignore them if they fight you - you have to stand up to them and tell them this is the way it is going to be from now on or you will be forced to find other means of caring for them. It is a tough fight but when you think about it, how else are you going to put a stop to this?
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Heart2Heart Jan 26, 2019
Easier said than done... My mother is so incourageable and throws nasty punches... I've never met anyone like her... but sadly, I think their are numerous elderly people out their like this, that give caregivers difficulty (that is sooooooooooo time-consuming to deal with)... which is why the majority of family members put them in homes,
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Dr gave me a small bottle of Aloe Vesta perineal/skin cleanser. It's pricey @ $3 for sm spray bottle.The spray neutralizes urine/smells w/o having to rinse off. I ordered online Perifesh w aloe vera, fresh scent, several gallons(better price).I like to give Dad a bath every day, but on days he just won't have it. I heat up a cloth w hot water, pour some perifesh on it & wipe him down. Athletes/runners use this cleanser, too.

For house cleaning, I use Odoban. Lot less expensive online. I first used it to clean cigarette smell out of rental houses. It comes in different scents & can be diluted for different uses, cleaning, laundry, etc. It disinfects & leaves a pleasant smell.
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Cinderella5001 Jan 21, 2019
I agree that Aloe Vesta is excellent. I discovered it on a website for incontinence. It’s an excellent cleanser with a pleasant scent. I purchased it for my mother because the “soap” they used at the NH was too harsh for my mother’s skin and was causing blisters and great discomfort. I bought it online and had it shipped to my house. I brought it to the nursing home as needed or it would disappear. It was well worth the money. And it made my mother much more comfortable. The skin breakdowns stopped. I highly recommend it’s use. It was effective for us.
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I take all garbage out daily. It's a little route I take starting in the bathrooms and changing the small garbage bags, onto the kitchen where I also prefer smaller garbage bags because they promote emptying the garbage frequently, and ending in the laundry room. It takes less than 10 minutes. This helps prevent odors from being in my house. Also, I'm allergic to most detergents and air fresheners. Finally, once a month or so I wash the insides of each garbage can with vinegar solution, rinse with hot water, and dry.

Protect your furniture with Chucks Pads, which are disposable underpads that protect furniture, mattresses, and car seats.
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lucyinthesky Jan 20, 2019
Me too!
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