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I told him gently how things were in reality, and how he dismissed it. He eventually understood. I do keep things clean and try to help him when he says he needs it. He doesn't like it when a stranger comes and helps him. We have been there and done that. So, until he really is unable to take a shower and dress, etc. I will help him. He is able to shower, dress, shave, etc. by himself. He is not ill but sometimes is not totally aware of cleanliness. I like to think that that is sometimes just part of being a man. :D Thanks for your input.

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You are handling it with sensitivity and honesty.
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I have been having this problem with my husband too. He doesn't realize anymore what is right and what is not. What is dirty and what is not. So I have to grab his dirty clothes or he would wear the same ones every day until they fell off. I have started laying out clean clothes. I labeled all his drawers and sorted things out very neatly to make it easy for him. Then I found out he really can't read! He has basically forgotten how! I also noticed he was taking a shower every day. He got in, rinsed off without soap or a washcloth, and never washed his hair. Then he was done. So now I get in the shower with him and I can supervise his shower so I am sure he washes everything. I start him out at the top every day, but he is likely to start anywhere. I hurry and get clean while he is washing. Then I have to make sure he rinses everything off. I have to remind him to use deodorant. He does remember to shave every day and does that himself. When it comes to teeth, I have to go over every step every single time he brushes. He does not shower every day. I figure every third day is enough as the ladies above have said. In between, if we aren't going out, I let him choose whatever he wants to wear. And sometimes I even let his wear it twice or three times. He doesn't smell and I have less wash. But clean underwear every day. I also caught him putting dirty wash back in the drawers or in the closet. I have to watch him like a hawk.
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Tell him again and say how important it is to you. Tell him you appreciate it when it is "nice to be near" him. What do you mean by hygiene? You need to be specific, if not with us, then with him. If he has BO, buy him deodorant. If it is halitosis, get him floss and mouth wash. If it's toilet-related, buy flushable wipes. If it's bathing, get a deodorant soap. If he dismisses you again, repeat yourself. What have you got to lose? If you're worried about him possibly going into dementia, speak to a doctor. Look up Teepa Snow, a psychologist specializing in dementia. She has advice on this.
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I noticed that my Mom never uses soap after using the restroom, just rinses her hands under water.... on the opposite side I usually scrub up like I going to perform surgery.... we each have our own habits. I have no idea what Dad does, maybe I don't want to know.

I was wondering if those who don't wash their hands would like using a pump bottle of "hand sanitizer".... tell them it makes their hands feel so good. It's better than not doing anything after using the bathroom.

My significant other uses the kitchen sink to wash his hands, apparently something he did since childhood..... occasionally I will ask him if the bathroom sink needs repair as a hint to use the sink in there since he was already in that room ;] It's hard to break childhood habits.... [sigh].
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nhmon36, you are correct about the flushable wipes need to be tossed and not flushed. For those who have someone that uses them more frequently then normal, I wonder if a diaper pail would work?

I also use those flushable wipes on my over-weight cat who cannot get to her back and other spots she needs while washing herself.
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I can tell you from personal experience, that flushing a Male Guard disposable pad down the toilet will very definitely clog it up! I have never had a problem with flushable wipes, either personally or used by my husband or mother. However, even the package warns against flushing many at once. I fear that is what some persons with dementia might do.

My mother (93, dementia, severe arthritis) stayed with me this weekend. I noticed that she did not wash her hands after using the toilet. If I reminded her she did a very brief and inadequate job. I also could tell that it was very painful to stand at the bathroom sink, especially after the effort of getting herself down and up from the toilet.

This bothers me because she touches a lot of surfaces! Her walk from the bathroom to her chair is a straight shot she can make using the walker and not touching anything else. By the end of her visit I was handing her a Wet One for her hands as soon as she sat down in her chair. She did a much more thorough job of cleaning her hands while she sat comfortably. I think I will continue this practice on all future visits. (Or maybe I'll switch to bringing her a warm wet washcloth and a dry one as a towel. Anything she can do sitting in her chair, and before she starts touching things.)
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Lainy1, I am not sure how this fits into hygiene, but states have always (or at least for the decade I've been involved) had the ability and responsibility to recover some of their costs by claiming assets (in particular, the house) after the recipient died (with some allowances for the spouse to continue there, and some exceptions). This is not NEW with the affordable care act.

Just trying to keep the facts straight ...
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My husband is also getting bad about his personal hygiene -not that he was that great when he was younger. But coupled with his becoming incontinent and also having IBD...makes it harder. He's always having accidents but doesn't seem to notice that he doesn't clean himself up too well. He starts stinking! I tell him about it but of course he gets irritated whenever I tell him he needs to bath and change his clothes. I did buy him the men's depends and just put them in his bathroom. He has started using them. I also have put the wipes in there too. I don't think he has dementia...it's hard to tell sometimes, but maybe the poor bathroom habits are part of it?
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shorty1, I don't know much about the other dementias, and you didn't specify which one you're dealing with. Though it seems they have similarities. My husband has Lewy Body Dementia, and it has autonomic nervous system dysfunction, which means the brain has trouble controlling the things you don't think about, like swallowing, digestion, bowels, blood pressure and temperature regulation. Plus, it can also have perceptual dysfunction and communication challenges.

So, my husband can be cold, but put on shorts. He will ask if he needs a jacket, because if he walks outside, he can't really tell or can't make the decision. Then sometimes he says the total opposite of what he is trying to say. So he could be in pain and say he is cold. If I'm lucky, the words are in the same ballpark, i.e. pain and cold are both discomfort. So, if it is warm enough for me and he is bundled up, then I would give him a naproxen.

As far as the pain in the back, my husband used to complain about back pain all the time, right under his shoulder blade. I mentioned it to doctors, but they didn't seem to think it was anything to be concerned about. Since my husband's dementia has some Parkinson-like symptoms, which is muscle related, I figure it has something to do with that, and then as we age, we all have aches and pains, and I figure theirs is accelerated or more intense. But again there is that perception thing to consider.

There is a lot of guess work that goes into taking care of someone with dementia, and the doctors aren't always much help, but it doesn't hurt to ask them. In the meantime, do your best.
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Be careful if you consider Medicaid. I recently found out that because of the new Obama-care law, your assets (house, etc.) can be seized once you die. This is only if you were on Medicaid.
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You do not say if he has dementia, so I am really at a loss for helping, except to say, so men just don't think taking say a shower every day is helpful I agree. The Romans didn't take a bath for a month, and the more one washes away the "good" bacteria on one's skin, it can be available for viruses to invade. So my best advice is leave him alone. If you really cannot stand him smelling hand him a disposable flushable towel and don't say too much. Maybe you are complaining about things he doesn't want to address (maybe his family of origin was like that too). In the scheme of things, does it really matter?
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I can't figure that out, about flushable wipes - I've been told also that they clog toilets, and the nursing home where my brother lives refused to use them. But I've never seen that happen, if "flushable wipes" are used individually, and if it is only the small ones - they are thin, maybe 4" square - not much bigger than toilet paper. I suspect that people either sometimes make a mistake and buy the normal ones - not the baby flushables, or they bunch them up. I held off using them, then returned to them, being care to limit them, and have had no problem, in many homes and settings. They are so simple and effective.
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It would appear that so far your husband is willing to wash himself, though it may take some coaxing on your part to get started, so as long as he WILL and can do it, the better. It keeps him somewhat active. Keeping in mind older folks (you don't say how old he is) only need showers 2-3 times a week because of extremely dry skin, but the private area needs to be washed every day to cut down on the chance of infections. If you've already tried getting help and he refuses it, I doubt that an OT (Occupational Therapist) would get very far with him either, but you could still put up the grab bar, shower chair/bench and hand-held shower, maybe with the help of a medical supply company, for his safety.
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To freqflyer's suggestion that "flushable wipes" be used. Be aware - they are seriously plugging up toilets, septic and sewer systems. My husband insists on using them and has plugged up our toilet four times in the past year. His dementia makes it impossible for him to remember to toss not flush.
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Funny - the "Let's talk about your Bum" - a video about wipes - great idea. Actually, I think wipes, the small ones for babies that are flushable if used individually - are god's gift to the hygiene world! All care is more thorough with them. And yes, humor (or humour as I used to also spell it in Canada, as Glowki spelled it and thanks for your words!). I learned that relaxing power of humor myself when a proud old man I had cared for over 3 years, finally became bedridden. This was early in my healthcare work, so I had never had to deal with details of male hygiene, and though we were very fond of each other, I did not know this particular man in that way. So I was terrified (had to laugh however, when I realized it was all just like a baby only bigger), but in my fear of doing damage or hurt or conversely not being thorough enough to do the job and avoid later problems - I must have been painstakingly slow, for suddenly the man cried out, "Could you hurry the hell up???!!" I had to burst out laughing, and we could admit my fears and inexperience, and together have compassion for me as I learned the tricks of the hygiene trade. Now my running conversations are about avoiding later itching from remaining soap, and saying "excuse me" or "I'm sorry" if I have to do personal care, and give the person the option to do as much themselves as they can. If more is needed, and I say I need to do a bit more here, and just go to do it, with care and attention and no delays, my old folks always accept that this is important - they don't want to be left with the results of errors either, it's simply not comfortable, so they are glad to be clean.
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Is there anyone out there that is dealing with someone with dementia that wants to keep his coat on all the time. He says that he is cold, but has on 2 sweatshirts, and his winter coat. My husband and I are really warm, because I have the heat on about 72 most of the time. I feel his hands, and they are warm. He has advanced dementia, and is only 49. He also complains about his back in different places that hurt. Usually in the late afternoon. This is when he is tense, and confused. We go to the Chiropractor on a regular basis. Is this symptom imaginary?
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As we get older there is always the fear of falling in the tub/shower, even with shower mats to help keep from slipping. Daily showers can dry one's skin in winter and men aren't known to use lotions on their skin afterwards. Dove makes a line of men's skin care for soaps, lotions, shampoo's, shaving needs, etc. Something different to try might spark an interest in showering, etc.

Have you seen the Cottonelle's commercial "Let's Talk About Your Bum" Flushable Wipes? Great idea, I've been using something similar for over a year. Now to get one's spouse or elder parents to use it might be a different story, but it's worth a try.

"Boys will be boys" when it comes to keeping clean. My significant other's bathroom is on par with that of a gas station restroom.... we know how gross those can be ;] It's his responsibility to keep it clean, and he knows how to use a can of Comet and a sponge.
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Castle well said and very enlightening for me. I am not at that stage with my dad who is 94 years old and has always been extremely fastidious with regards to his hygiene. But as he weakens and I offer to help with regards to his bathing he becomes agitated and determined to do it his self.
I am blessed that he does not have dementia or Alzheimer's but he is a very proud man. I also believe that using one's sense of humour is very important along with clearly defined explanations to help the individual feel respected and considered as I know it is important to my dad to retain even the smallest amount of independence. Throughout this aging process I have tried to always include him in discussions regarding his future as I tell him "we are in this together". So far with clearly defined explanations he has been extremely agreeable in most instances except the assistance with bathing . Hopefully with additional insight from you we will be able to resolve that too!
Thanks again.
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Possibly your husband has reached a point in the aging process where personal hygiene no longer is important to him.

Thinking back on what I've been through with my mother, now 95, I recall she started out years ago trying to fool me into thinking she had showered when she hadn't. Then she dropped all pretense of caring and I had to provide the motivation to get her started. And now I do everything and she just stands there complaining. :-)

Technically, Mom still is physically capable of doing the self-care tasks, but the handicap which prevents action is her declining mental ability. At some point there's no point in talking about hygiene and we have to just step up and get it done.

Good luck and God bless.
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Added note here - I did not mean "pleasure" in doing hygiene tasks for others - but in being clear and having reasons, and finding whatever language is needed to address issues. It took years of trying to beat around the bush, blaming my brother for smells, before I finally learned in elder care, to be specific, which allowed me to be calm and clear - and my own experiences with itches or seeing others get urinary tract infections, so I can emphasize the need to be thorough to avoid itches or infections - so I feel on the same page as the person I am helping, which helps the communication go better. I will be ever grateful to the older woman with multiplesclerosis, who adjusted her body as needed, so I could handle her personal care, while chatting about other subjects. She taught me to accept nature as it is, deal with it, let it be important, for it is important, and not the fearful source of embarrassment. I've learned to joke a bit with people, and an embarrassed younger woman told me last week, she liked how my jokes made it easier for her to accept help and forget the embarrassment. I'd suggest maybe admitting you feel embarrassed to deal with the subject, but it's important to you and to avoid issues, and say you want to address it realistically - I'm guessing a husband would agree - it helps him get past embarrassment at his own forgetfulness or lack of consideration, and see hygiene as something that can be mentioned if needed - and if it's needed too often, it's legitimate to ask what habit could make repeated talks unnecessary!
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Big topic! In many ways I've learned to move from fear into loving the focus. I don't think it's part of being "a man" as much as the confusion women and men have felt about having clear and defined expectations about hygiene. In embarrassment, we run away from the topic, and depend on others to be alert enough to pick up on it and handle it well. Adding to a lack of clarity, is a variable expectation of schedule - the whole issue is avoided if people shower daily, but many people, especially less active elders, do not believe this is necessary, and neither do I. The vagueness and fear of directness of others made it so much harder to teach my disabled brother, to focus enough to do the pieces of it effectively. Now, after years of working to impact change with him and with elders - I am able to be direct, to give others baths, explaining as I go, the importance of being thorough in different places - and it is a pleasure to be thorough actually - just one we need to focus on, and share that idea.
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I can't tell from your profile how old your husband is, or what the nature of his heart condition/stroke is. Is it possible that he's also got some cognitive decline as the result of these conditions? What kind of doctor is managing his healtcare? If his attitude toward hygeine has changed recently, this could be a symptom of dementia. With my mother, this was a real wake up call for us; we realized when she was in the hospital that she was no longer washing her hands after she used the bathroom. When we pointed this out to her, she dismissed it, saying that that was "just while she was in the hospital". Sneaking peeks, we discovered it was "always". I had her doctor talk to her about it, because she's the type that always follows doctor's orders. It improved for a bit, but her dementia progressed to the point that she needs full assistance. You also say that any help that you've been able to locate is financially out of reach--are you in the US? Do you have health insurance/Medicare? Have you looked into whether you are eligible for Medicaid? What sort of assistance do you need? Post here; there are lots of folks with GREAT ideas and resources.
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His MD can order an OT to come to the house and show him how to safely get in and out of the tub. Usually they recommend adding grab bars, a shower seat and a hand-held shower head instead of a wall mounted one. We are considering having the tub wall cut down so Mom can avoid stepping over a tub wall.
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