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We've noticed that she's just started to neglect herself. I suspect that she needs help bathing but I fear even bringing it up with her. It's work just to get her to change her clothes so I can wash them. She doesn't like being told what to do and becomes very angry if she thinks we're trying to take away her independence. She lives in a mother in law apartment attached to our house so she is safe and can be monitored.

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Try using Medline Readybath Luxe (Amazon). Each packet has 8 washcloths and instructions for a full cleansing. At least you might be able to wash her legs, feet and underarms.
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ferris: Actually the roles have now reversed, e.g. she is the child and you're the parent.
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As the elder ages, she is going to need assists with bathing. Sometimes it has to come right down to informing them that they must wash better. You can say "would you rather hear it from me (your daughter) or your best friend? "
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You're most welcome, Rainmom. We are (clearly) all in this together and it's definitely comforting to know we are not alone. This forum is a Godsend and I for one draw a great deal of strength from the ability to both vent and get suggestions (or just comraderie) on our mutual issues. I hope that if/when our kids are dealing with stuff associated with our own aging that they will avail themselves of this type of support system.
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We have made it clear to my husbands mother that staying in her home is only possible with her cooperation. Otherwise, we will be forced to sell her home and place her in a nursing facility to receive the care necessary. It is still her choice to some extent. She isn't happy about bathing, but understands that her doctor requires proper hygiene and care. The visiting nurse documents this care and her condition atleast once a week. She backs up that conversation.
Yes, it is a dignity issue. We emphasize that caregiving is a favor returned to our parents for the care we received as children. It is consistent with our family tradition and Christian faith to keep our loved ones in family care as long as possible.

With dementia, your loved one will go through stages of resistance and periods of peace and cooperation (hopefully). Your relationship with your parent will evolve over that change too.
Try to keep perspective. Alzheimer's is fatal. Slowly fatal. It is ok to bribe your parent to cooperate...chocolate pudding CAN be on breakfast menu! Throw some of those "living ideas" out and adopt a "bucket list" perspective. The simplest joys could be a vehicle for improved mood and a sense of really living while dying. Do not underestimate your ability to help shape the response, by working the positives and likes your parent has as a person. You might actually get to know him or her in a new way.
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I'll count myself among those having troubles with this. My mom wouldn't mind showering, but she thinks she can just step in and out with no trouble and do it by herself, when in fact, she really needs a lot of help so she doesn't fall. So she gets mad that I don't "let" her shower, but won't do sponge baths...just layers more deodorant on her already stinky pits. *sigh* I've got a caregiver now who might have more luck. You're not alone!
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lmb1234 - thanks for your post. I've beaten myself up for quite a while for missing the shower issue - I mean, I'm a fairly bright gal, how could I miss something like that, right? So, as usual - I am relieved that I'm not alone in missing this.
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I go through the same thing with my mom. Even began a calendar on when she last showered. Due to her dementia she THINKS she just took a shower. Or, she says she doesn't need one. It is a constant battle. I am now going to have some hand rails installed IN the shower area. That may give her a sense of security. I had her doctor bring it up, but to no avail. I feel your pain . . . . . I'm in the same boat.
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To all those who have elderly mothers who go ahead and do what you say, count your blessings! My mother, who is 87 and has Alzheimer's, was very adamant that she did not need help with bathing. It was quite a battle, but I insisted that she needed to shower once a week and I needed to help her in order to prevent another fall. I know the thought of her daughter seeing her naked was humiliating and very hard for her. Once we got through the first few times, though, she realized it feels much better to have a nice warm shower and actual get herself clean once a week. I have her wash her private parts, which she can still do as I help steady her, and as I am drying her I give her another towel to cover herself. I have come to realize that her anger is not so much at me wanting to help her but at the whole idea that she needs the help at all.
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Marsalis,
Not bathing was a big issue with my cousin who has dementia. It started even before we knew that dementia was at work with her, but soon it became clear. I'd watch your mom very closely to see what else she may not be doing. Often they don't eat, don't toilet well, eat spoiled food, etc. I'd be careful of her letting in strangers and giving out financial information. It sounds like you are keeping a good eye on her with her living next door, but still......I'm not sure there is anything that you an say to her that may cause her to bathe more. With dementia, the reasoning and memory are just not there any longer. I can't imagine that she would pick back up with bathing regularly, unless she's guided through it.

What I found that worked was to just insist as we went about it. I'd run the water and get a wash clothe and starting talking about how she was going to get nice and clean. I acted as if it was my job to help her bath. She ALWAYS said she had already bathed, but I said, I know, but this is special soap that I have and we have to use it. So, he we go and I'd then talk about our plans, meals, tv show, etc. Pleading, begging or threats don't prove helpful, IMO. A bath aid might be a good idea. Sometimes dementia patients respond to them.
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Like Rainmom.....it was years before I'd actually figured out that my mother wasn't even attempting to bathe anymore. She'd been using a walker for much of the time and the independent building she'd been living in until being admitted to A/L last August had a tub so there was simply no way she was showering. Once I got up the nerve to actually talk with her about how long it had been, she deferred and tried to not answer specifically (plus the dementia only makes this worse, of course). At that point, I got a shower seat and put it in the shower so that the aides could help her (she flat out refused my help, but said she might (emphasis on "might") let them assist. Of course, she didn't work with them either and I just got fed up and took the d@m# seat out. Oh, and that goes along with the added seat on the toilet which I'd been encouraged by the aides to provide. She just kept asking why it was there so that, too, just got thrown out. My empathy and sympathy to all of us who have, or are, dealing with this. I only hope and pray I never get to the point where I do this to my own kids, although I think it's unlikely as showering everyday is just something I've done my whole life and my mother (she's French, you know, and will always use this as her reasoning) didn't bathe more than a couple of times a week for all of hers. Good luck and know you are all doing the best you can in very imperfect circumstances!
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Wow! I Did not figure on this. Something to consider. Thanks! I also thought maybe mom would be more inclined to take instructions from strangers more than her daughters.
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Nursing home warning: They won't shower your loved one either. My mother went without a shower for 9 MONTHS in the nursing home. They said, "she won't let us," "she refused," she's resistant to care." And yes, it IS against the law. When I really pushed it, they said my mother with dementia was "psychotic and dangerous" and the garbage social worker threatened that the nursing home would put her in a long-term psychiatric hospital. Mom was 80 at the time. I just want everyone to be aware that this happens, so you guys won't be shocked or blind-sided like I was. Sad.
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My mom went three years, yep - three years without a shower or bath - I'd tried everything and more to no avail. Mom would give herself sponge baths - wouldn't use baby wipes, so I warned visiting family / "whatever you do, don't use the towels in her bathroom when you wash your hands"! I was forever putting paper towels in the bathroom for hand drying. Mom had a fall in August- the doctor think it may have been related to the fact she had developed pretty bad cellulitis on both legs - cellulitis is a skin infection. Ultimately mom ended up in a nursing home because of this fall and I can't help but wonder if she had been cleaning her skin properly- would she have developed the cellulitis that put her there.
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My sister and I have tried every which way to persuade my mom to shower weekly and wash her hair. Not daily, not even twice a week, but once. She will go for a month plus with out shower or washing hair. She's wearing depends full time and have at times had BM's in them. I have provided wipes for her but she prefers to use my wash cloths to clean up the worst of her messes. I have thrown them away. We have "asked" her politely. We have asked for her to explain her reluctance and maybe we can solve the problem. She says she doesn't like to be wet or cold. I have space heater for bathroom, I've bought shower bench and wall handles to hold onto. I have a walk in shower she can use but is adamant about using the bathroom with tub that she climbs over. The few times I have gotten her in shower she says the water hurts and is in there for maybe 2 minutes and refuses to wash her hair. She won't sit on bench. BTW, it's the same bench I got for the shower that I sit her on to roll her hair if and when I get her to wash it. She comments on what a nice bench it is and asks where I got it. (She's blind). I had to laugh out loud and explain its the shower bench that she won't sit on in the shower! So after trying the polite approach, we've tried the forceful approach with guidance and help from OT. We did the "It's Wednesday, bath day!" No go, we tried threatening home health care coming in and bathing her. She told us to just try it! She's convinced her self that sponge bathing 2-3 times a week is sufficient for good hygiene. Problem is we've caught her running bath water and then going to standing at the sink. If she sink baths it might be to wipe her rear, but not arm pits, feet or face. It bits and pieces. We are at our wits end and are still trying to protect her dignity. So I'm in the same boat with you! I think a nursing home will be mom's next stop and I hate that for her.
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With Dementia, the brain no longer tells them they r hungry or thirsty. She may think she has already taken a bath. Same with eating. They may think they already did. This is why "wanting to keep Mom in her own home" is not always plausable. The number one thing is dehydration which has the signs of a stroke. They get weak and disoriented. Can u imagine being in ur home alone and not being able to turn on the TV because u can't remember how to use the remote or the telephone. You leave a pan on the stove and forget about it sovit burns up. I know a man who allowed this for ages. Know the signs, they are suttleb in the beginnng. I am going to have to make a decision soon, I think. My Mom is failing each month. There is not enough money for an AL so it will have to be a NH. I so wanted her house to sell so she could live n an AL.
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Marsalis - if your mother is anything like mine, she will fight you tooth and nail on this. My 93 year old mother is in AL, very frail with moderate to advanced dementia, and every time....and I mean every time.....the aides come to help bathe her, the resistance begins: "The room is too cold (it's not - it's 80 degrees and I sweat bullets while I'm there), I'm too cold, the water hurts my skin" and the ever favorite, "I don't sweat or smell and I take care of myself!" The best I've been able to get her to accept is that she needs to sign a refusal form to protect the AL and then when enough of them pile up I simply say to her, "Well, sounds like you're just not letting them help bathe you - you know, if you're not going to let them help you, you really can't complain that your skin is dry or itchy or scaly - this is caused by your not bathing regularly." Then when she asks me if she smells bad, my (truthful) response is, "You don't smell awful, Mom, but you don't smell fresh." I let her mull that over but honestly, I don't get too far. Like me, I'm sure you're well intentioned but through this forum largely I've learned to pick my battles, as there are far too many to invest in all of them fully. Hugs to you for being a good and thoughtful daughter and hang in there.
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I've been there. I was not able, for some time to get my mother to bathe, so I had to do work-arounds. Have these things on hand so she can be clean and avoid a UTI: Feminine cleansing cloths or baby wipes, a baby wipe warmer, no-rinse periwash, a portable bidet (from Amazon, less than $20), AZO cranberry pills for urinary tract health. Good luck to you. This, too, shall pass.
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First, ask her..don't tell her what to do. Ask her if she would like you to get her a bench or a hand held shower to make her more comfortable in the tub. Then ask her if she would like you to wash her clothes while you are doing yours. If she says no then tell her she will feel so much better in some clean clothes. This seems to be a recurring problem with seniors who are getting depressed or dealing with issues. My mom is like that but now she is at the stage now where she pretty much will do whatever I ask her to do without arguing. So that make sit easier.
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I hate to say it but what you've mentioned were the first big red flags that my mother was getting dementia- and I totally missed them! Take a good hard look at all of moms behavior- is this really the only area where she's acting a little "off"? Perhaps it's time to take mom to a neurologist or a doctor specializing in geriatrics.
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I agree with Everishlass. There is a reason for her neglect. But be sure that you are sensitive and keep her dignity in tact. Being heavy handed will not get you very far in this matter.
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Well then if she is on your property put your foot down and tell her YOUR rules. You are supposed to be the adult here, so start acting like it. You are no longer a child who does what their mother tells them.
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Depending on how advanced your mom's dementia is have you considered sitting down and having a heart-to-heart talk with her? No accusations, no judgement, just telling her that you've noticed that she isn't bathing as much as she used to. Ask her if there's something you can do to help her. Be sensitive but matter of fact. Maybe she is afraid of falling. Maybe she doesn't like being cold once she gets out of the shower or tub. Or maybe it's just too much trouble. If you can pry a reason out of your mom you can work on a solution.
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When we had OT at the house, they stated that alot of elderly people stop bathing because they lose depth perception do they get scared of the tub and are afraid to fall. They suggested a bright colored shower mat or decals placed in the tub to help with perception. Maybe you could start with that.
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maybe ask if she needs anything new to help her like hand held sprayer, bath bench etc or introduce her to disposable warming cleaning clothes that she can use herself for daily cat baths. trying the same w/my MIL who only showers/hair wash 1x/wk which is fine if she would do these at least 1-2 days otherwise.
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