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My mother hates water, she is 85 yrs and has light Dementia. I always ask her to take a shower and take her to the hair salon but she keep saying I don’t need one, I just took a bath and this was 5 or 6 weeks ago. I hate to say this, but I am struggling with her she is very stubborn and she refused to clean her self at all. She smells horrible and keeps using perfumes on top of her odor thinking it will eliminate the smell. I am embarrassed from her but have nothing to do. Help please.

Okay, so she uses perfume instead of bathing. I don't know how far along she is with dementia but if it's possible, tell her that until she takes a full on shower, she cannot have perfume. Then take away their perfume. Maybe say that other people don't want to smell bad body odor and heavy perfume. If your mom lives with you, give her the heads up and say that Mondays and Thursdays are days that she is required to bathe and it's non negotiable since its your house.

My grandmother has grab bars, a bathing chair and a hand held shower head but will go weeks without a bath. And then wonders why people will avoid her when she is in public. I simply stated once that nobody wants to be around an old bat that stinks the way she does. With the expression on her face, you would have thought that I shot her.
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Reply to Evermore99
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You may have to take matters into your own hands -- literally.
I have to bathe Mother because she won't. She also doesn't wash her hands or brush her teeth regularly. Totally grosses me out! Another story, another time.
I try to bathe her twice a week-- Tuesday and Friday. I have to help her in and out of the tub. We have a bath chair, a hand held shower head and a cushioned bath mat. I also run a space heater so the bathroom is warm for her--like a sauna for me LOL. Once a month I clip her toe nails, which also grosses me out, but it has to be done. Her hair is long and has to be blow dried and braided. I'm like a lady in waiting and she is the queen England. 😉
When I first started taking care of Mother,
she would adamantly refuse bath time. When I asked why she said, "It's too much trouble." Or she would try to argue that she just took one " yesterday", even when I would remind her that I'm the one who bathes her, so I actually know when she last bathed. Even now, every so often, she will try to tell me NO, like I'm not going to make her. It used to tick me off! But now I just shrug my shoulders and say, "okay" and walk away. When I don't get sucked into an argument, she heads to the bathroom.
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Reply to MumsHelper
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So tough to deal with. A good description of my Mom before she got dementia, would be refined. Impeccably dressed, showered every morning, house was perfect, well you get the picture. Now? Sometimes, not sometimes, often, random 'poop' in the hallway. Not sure how that even happens. No reaction from her. She just keeps moving along, like nothing is amiss. Maybe plan a hair salon day for the both of you? And the tub/shower chairs may help too? And maybe the 'sponge bath' suggestion may help too. Good luck to you.
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Reply to lynnm12
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Exact same thing going on here. It’s pretty bad. Afraid of falling, yet still doesn’t want my help..by the one time I got her to take a bath she get so much better after. Just not sure what to do. It’s difficult to take her out in public...and I want to protect her and help her have some dignity, but she just doesn’t care.
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Reply to Sarahk60
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Hi Hope
Other than than Dementia does your mom have other health issues?
I was thinking, if mom has original Medicare, you might ask her primary to order home health care for her. With home health comes an aide who will bathe her a couple of times a week. It’s amazing how much better some elders will cooperate with a professional. You could also ask for a physical therapy assessment and perhaps she could benefit from therapy. Mention her dizziness and fear of falling. Tell her doctor she needs help and see if he will help her by placing the order.
After she has her hair shampooed and her bath, have her put her perfume and a new lipstick on. Make sure EVERYONE tells her how pretty she looks and how sweet she smells.
Personally I would put the perfume away until she has a bath.
If her primary won’t order the homehealth, see if you can find a geriatric primary who is more user friendly.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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worriedinCali Mar 29, 2019
Original Medicare does not pay for personal care aids.
They won’t pay someone to come out and bathe the OPs mom, it’s not covered by Medicare.
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My mom always has to pee so she uses bathroom before getting in shower. She pees again before getting dressed.

They are afraid of falls. Get a chair to place in shower. Please install bars. Remember to put dry washcloths nearby because if they try to hold onto bar with wet hands they will still slip. My mom likes to have a few washcloths on all the bars. She likes a soft washcloth for her face, very soft, the kind you would buy for babies. She also says the big plush towels that we love are too heavy. They don't have any muscle mass left. So I cut towels in half to be lighter. Now I towel her off but when she was able to do it she couldn't manage with a heavy towel. I have her clothes picked out and bring them in the bathroom and dress her as soon as she is dried off.

Always put a slip proof mat on the tub/shower floor. If not place a towel there. I use a long back brush (the scrubbie kind) on her body. I wash her hair. I make sure I use a towel to dry it a bit so she won't trail water on floor and slip. Make sure the water is at the correct temperature. She hates being the least bit chilly. The home health nurse said to bathe one to two times per week concentrating on private parts and under arms, under breasts, any spots that bacteria grows rapidly. I wish my mom would cut her hair a bit shorter. But she says she is not going to wear an old lady hairstyle! She is 93. She doesn't want anything to be more convenient. She is very stylish and orders fancy clothes from QVC to sit at home in or go to the doctor. Meanwhile I wear the same clothes over and over because I can't get out to shop because of taking care of her.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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NewGirl Mar 27, 2019
Wow! What great advice on dealing with a parent not wanting to bathe. Your mom is lucky to have such a loving and thoughtful daughter ❤️
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Dementia people get like children and children don't like showers. Maybe get a shower chair, put it in tub and a handheld shower head. Make sure the bathroom is warm. The elderly get cold easily. I used to wet Mom down first, then soap up and rinse. For private area i had her stand with her legs a little apart and use the hand held shower head to clean with, her back to me because we had a bar on the wall she could hold on to. For her hair I would have her sitting in the chair with her head forward, wet her head and shampoo and rinse. Having a small towel near by to dry her hair. I had a handtowel on the lid of the toilet I sat her down on to dry her. Heated towel sounds great. I dressed her in the warm bathroom.

I read that deodorant soaps are best for the elderly. I used Lever Brothers, Dial tends to dry the skin out. Using lotions afterward sounds good. She doesn't need to get a bath everyday. NHs and ALs usually do it 2x a week. In between I gave Mom a sponge bath to clean underarms and put deodorant on before dressing her. Baby wipes are good for this.

I kept Moms hair short. Easier to wash and style.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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When grandma used to try to get grandpa to take a shower, she would promise him a reward; “If you get yourself cleaned up, we will go out to eat!” It always worked for her. Maybe you could make the bath a very nice experience for her. Some towels warm from the dryer. Her favorite perfume in a lotion or powered version. Some nice soaps. And, of course make very sure that she feels safe. Have good nonslip mats on the floor and railings everywhere. Fear of falling is very real for older people.
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