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My mother refuses ANY help in helping her remove soiled pads and clothing. We pull down, she pulls up. She REFUSES to take a shower as well...for shower time, we have tried soothing tactics, bribery, even offered to get into shower with her (me clothed) and now thinking about a small kiddy pool just to get her in the water that way.. she is very modest and needs to cover up, which we always try to accommodate by holding a towel so she can unrobe herself..but she refuses to get into shower. We have attempted bird baths as well, she fights us to the end! The whole staff at board and care home are at their wits-end in trying to figure out what tactics might work and throughout the day attempt numerous times. to get her to bath. We are now concerned about UTI’s & hygiene. We are on a goal of at least 1 shower per week. This is a new environment for her as she was (2 months) ago placed. Otherwise, she seems well adjusted to her new home. Prior to her move, she had NEVER been incontinent, or had soiled underwear. We had been, though, struggling with bath time even then. I knew eventually incontinence would be inevitable, but not to that extreme from one day to next. Staff has put-up a bathroom sign with arrows so she can find it easier. They also frequently remind her to go the bathroom. The Alzheimer’s store has a house-coat with a zipper in the private area, making it easier for caregivers to access, without having to take bottom clothing off. I might try that. Any suggestions, would be appreciated. Thank you.

Having signs on the wall and "reminding" her to go is not going to work with a person suffering from Dementia. They have to walk her to the bathroom every two hours or so. The have to help her if needed and they have to clean her up if she can't.

Bath time, how are they set up? Is the shower a walk in? Is there a shower chair and a hand held shower head? And, the bathroom needs to be warm. I would sit my Mom on the shower chair. She would wash her face then I would spray her down. Suds her up and spray her down. Now Mom would lean forward for me to wash her hair. I had a towel close by to wrap around her head. They don't like water in the face. Just like small children, they don't like showers. To get to private parts I would have Mom stand with her back to me, holding onto the bar and spread her legs. I would not use soap just use the handheld shower head to clean there. While living with me she had no UTIs. I helped Mom with her toileting so always used Huggies wipes to make sure she was clean. If it wasn't bath day, I still would clean under her arms and use deoderant before I dressed her.

My daughter worked for rehabs/nursing homes for 20 years. She says the best way to get a patient to do something they say no to is make them think they made the decision. Ex: Mrs A time for a shower, Mrs A says she doesn't want one. Then my daughter would say "But Mrs. A wouldn't you like to be all clean, smelly good and in fresh clothes" Then Mrs A says yes and goes for her shower.

With me, I never asked my Mom I just did it. Time for a bath, time to get dressed. Aides tend to ask, problem is the answer is usually NO. I'd say " time for a bath" and start walking her to her bathroom. But my Mom was easy that way.
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We had trouble with undressing and showering as well. I see you have tried bribery, but we started making shower days and cleaning up "special occasions" that we should celebrate. Pick occasions that are meaningful to her, birthdays, mother's day, etc. (This works well for mealtimes as well) Then we would suggest cleaning up and going out for a treat or doing something she enjoyed. One thing that eventually worked was we stopped trying to help, but stood close to assist. Get tearless shampoo and put it in her hand and let her try to wash her own hair, but then ask if you can help with the back of her hair. Then put soap on a wash cloth and let her wash her herself, then as if she would like you to wash her back (meanwhile getting spots she missed). My mom's biggest struggle through her decline was the loss of independence, and we quickly relized the defiance was to try to regain some of it. We would let her struggle a bit then ask if she would like help, that way it was her choice. At first, she always said no, but the more we let her try on her own, the more open to help she became. We always make a big deal when she does actually do it on her own, as well as when she let us help (adding how much easier it was). Another trick that got her to let us help is we asked her to help us as well. Trivial things like putting the spoons away from the dishwasher, or folding a towel. I think that made her feel like she wasn't so helpless. That also made the give and take a little easier. I hope this helps, and wish the best for you and your mom.
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Freemanlorraine Aug 13, 2020
Thank you..Yes, I have noticed that when I suggest she do some things herself, after my attempt to get her clothes off or back on.. I give her 2 choices..you want to put in your shirt on first or the pants? And that way, she is helping me get the job done and she has some control..
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My Alz. mother also refuses showers every time I ask. However, she likes going out for a ride, so I make her taking a shower a requirement to going out. I tell her if she takes a shower, she'll go with me to do some shopping. And she cooperates.

I don't know at what stage your mother's dementia is and whether she can think: "If I do this, I can have that." Maybe brides would work with her? Is there anything she likes that you can use as an incentive for taking showers?

Normally, how does she spend her time?
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Freemanlorraine Aug 6, 2020
Yes, both myself, and daughter have used bribery a few times, and that starts the process of undressing (very slowly). She has always liked to go to the Garment District and talks about it still, so we tell her we have to shower before going. But we get to a certain point and then she realizes she has to get in the shower and backs off..I have even told her we both sat in dog poop outside and had to get our clothes off and shower, but she always had an answer (well who had a dog outside?, lol)..my daughter is more helpful in undressing her, even while my mom is using some choice words, so while she attempts to undress her, I try to distract her.
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