Advice - Personal Care & Hygeine


Registered User
Dec 21, 2006

I could do with a bit of advice please. As a consequence of Mum's AZ she is not looking after herself like she used to do. Her clothes aren't being changed on a regular basis - My Brother and I think that she doesn't have a bath anymore - simply strip washing when she either remembers or is advised to by one of the family. Dad is her main carer - they won't accept too much help from either my brother or myself -very frustrating from our perspective. We think that they are both in denial with it all - when we suggest anything - it's always dismissed - they are fine !:confused:

When we suggest that they perhaps have someone in to help - again met with no thanks. We have managed to sort out the Attenance Allowance for both of them - so the money is there - but for whatever reason - it;s not getting spent where we think it should be being spent - improving the quality of their lives.

It's so frustrating for both of us - any ideas welcome. The game we are playing at the moment is the waiting game - Money' s there - we are there to kick things in when we need to. Is that the right approach or not?:(

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hi MITCH, Your parents are obviously fighting to the death to keep their independence. It must be so difficult for them to accept help after, probably , a lifetime of being self-sufficient.
Could you ask if they have any washing you could do for them. Perhaps if you sent it to the laundry or dry cleaners, it might save face for them, and would be a constructive way of using the AA.
Many people are very hesitant to spend money, when they become confused, even if they have it. My mother wouldn`t have a cleaner until I told her it was free from Social Services.
The same applied to my 90 year old neighbour, who told me he was saving for his old age. Once his solicitor took over, as there was no family, he accepted home care, home chiropody and meals on wheels, because he was told he didn`t have to pay.
Some lies are justified, in my opinion.
Good luck, Sylvia

Michael E

Registered User
Apr 14, 2005
Ronda Spain
The getting or rather not getting in and out of a bath seems to go with the territory... I installed a shower - not over the bath but a proper walk in slide the door shower and it has made a vast difference. My wife will walk into it - stand there and to some extent wash herself or be helped.

It is perhaps the single best thing I have done for her (and for me as she no longer pongs!)



Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland

I agree with Michael, a shower is easier to manage, if your parents have one, or have room to have one installed. It can be difficult to climb out of a bath, once muscle tone begins to decline.

I was offered bath nurses to come twice a week for John, but that can often disrupt the day, so I said I'd rather manage with the shower. OT have supplied a shower stool, so that John sits in style while I wash him!

On the personal hygiene issue, is your mum becoming incontinent, or maybe finding it difficult to get to the loo in time? She may be embarrassed by this, and so just not saying.

It's a difficult subject to bring up if that is what is happening, but your mum would feel much better if you could discuss it. Something as simple as Tena Lady pads might help here, and your mum would be able to manage these herself.

As for the clothes, I have to agree with Sylvia -- it's probably down to you to make sure your mum changes when you see her, and take her clothes away with you to wash.

It's a tricky area to tackle, but you'll all (including your mum) feel so much better afterwards.

Good luck


Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
Birmingham Hades
Hi Mitch
We have a double shower and it has made life so much easier.
I think you have to be a bit hard and take the clothes away for washing.
It sounds cruel but one has try and wear down the protestations bit by bit.
It is natural for them to be in denial,to try to maintain their independence,I did but I was glad to accept some help in the end.
Play it cool,use any means that you can think of,white lies often help.
You will get ther in the end ,I promise.


Registered User
Jul 2, 2006
Newport, Gwent
Hi Mitch

I can relate to the not washing............... for quite some time now my mum hates water running on her body in the shower, and hasnt been in a bath for years...........The NH simply help her 'strip' wash, it wasnt worth upsetting her (and boy did it upset her) doing battle over a shower............

With regard to changing clothes.........same just depends on the day.............mostly when I go to see her I just suggest that if she is going to come out with me she must change her clothes.............. up to now it works............also the NH take her clothes whilst she is sleeping, wash them and put them back ready for the morning..............again it avoids any upset..........she simple feels comfortable wearing the same thing day in day out

I think you just play it by ear.............what works today, may not tomorrow........

Best wishes


Registered User
Feb 24, 2006
I told my mother "there's a world of difference between a dirty old lady and a clean old lady". In her case persuasion worked (sometimes) as she still wanted to see people and I convinced her that they wouldn't want to come in if she smelled bad.

It took careworkers about 10 days for her to get to know them well enough to let them take underwear off for a proper wash, yet a few weeks earlier she was wandering around naked in front of anyone.

I think she got used to her own smell, she'd been saying for some time that I washed her clothes too often.



Registered User
Jul 13, 2005
I really sympathise with this one, Mary has lived with us nearly 4 years, and in that time I have never once managed to get her to bath or shower, or wash her hair. Incidentally, it's true what they say, leaving hair does make it shine and look healthy.
As everyone mentioned, we thought having a bath was too difficult, so we have installed a walk in shower, but she still refuses on the grounds that
A) it's not her shower
B) she'll do it later ( that means never)
C) she can't smell anything
D) It's her body, she can do what she likes
E) she's not going anywhere, why bother?

In other words, any excuse. I have tried cajoling, being angry, suggesting I get care workers in, all have met with resistance and outright refusal. It was worse when she was on her own, as at least now I can make sure she changes clothes and underwear frequently. I'm afraid like me, you will have to invest in plenty of fresh air sprays and incense! Oust is very good!


Registered User
Jul 10, 2006
south lanarkshire
Hi Splatt 88
I can symphasize, I cannot get Mum into a bath, doesn't matter what I try. Neither can carers, Carers at Daycentre or carers when she was in respite.
Yes, the only thing I can do is try to make sure her underwear is clean (when she will allow me) and her clothes are washed and clean.
Saying that, she has had a couple of UTIs, but what can you do? Only your best, Which is what we are all trying to here on TP.


Registered User
Aug 9, 2005
This post has reminded me of a lovely story my beautiful Polish friend told me many years ago. She was then about the same age as I am now (fifties) and worked in a Nursing Home. Her English was very good, and heavily accented. She was a devout Catholic and the Nursing Home she worked for was a Catholic one. (Need to put this in as it explains the story!)

One old lady (in a ward of 4) would not allow anyone to bathe her, clean her, change her, anything. Krystyna (my friend) could sometimes manage it but no-ne else. On one day when the old lady was particularly feisty and fierce, Krystyna started crying. "Why are you crying?" (Old Lady - hereafter called OL). "I am not crying for you" (Krys.) "Who are you crying for?" (OL) "Your Guardian Angel" (Krys.) "Why are you crying for my Guardian Angel?" (OL) "Because she is so sad." (Krys) "Why is she sad?" (OL) "Because she is ashamed."

Anyway, you get the idea . . . . !!!! The conversation went on with Krystyna telling the Old Lady that her Guardian Angel was hanging her head and covering her face with shame because she (OL) was so dirty!!! The Guardian Angels of the other ladies were holding up the heads, spreading their wings and smiling proudly because THEIR old ladies were lovely and clean!!!

You guessed it! The feisty and fierce Old Lady then demanded Krystyna bathe her "all over, and wash my hair too!"

At the time (some twenty years ago) I had no knowledge of dementia, and altho' I smiled at the story I felt that Krystyna was being manipulative and dishonest (altho' I didn't say so!). Now I recognise that Krystyna was wise enough to use whatever worked.

I wish we could always invoke "Guardian Angels" to help our AD patients!! Nell


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
Guardian Angels"

I have 4 Guardian Angels

Seeing I was not alone in mum not wanting a bath in the past , the only way my mother would get into the walk in shower when we had it put in, before that no wash down nothing , but would only have it when my teenagers would say “pore nanny you stink " (they would not go near her) we all live together ( cruel as it may sound ) it did the trick that I even started saying it in Spanish that really hit the nail on the head .

because My mother Wants her grandchildren to talk , sit be with her , saying that she stinks , may her think ( it must of been ) she did not want to isolate herself from them and she new when she wash how much more attention she got from them

I honestly think my mother did not realize how much she Smiled till we told her and her granchildren would not want to go near her .

We are moving and in other house we do not have a walk in shower, my daughter stress me out when she said to me “that they she hope they sort out walk in shower before we move in for my mother soon, as don’t you remember how much she smelled”

Reading above someone said about wash down in sink , mum does not mind that anymore . Bath/shower is upstairs and they have not put stair lift in yet , they is a toilet downstairs with a big sink . That toilet is only going to be for my mother and we shall use the one upstairs.

As my daughters don’t like going into the toilet after my mother because she make a mess , now my daughter are not criticising my mother , as they no she can’t help it , but they find it embarrassing when they friends come around

they you go four angels, because they undertand a love for a mother no one ales would have been so helpful considerate supporting in really understanding with careing for my mother at home while I can .

Sorry for going on , just that it was a nightmare in the past with mum not washing that’s all change now
Last edited:


Registered User
Nov 22, 2006
Can't offer any any advice just reassurance. FIL hasn't changed his clothes for at least three months, but he thinks he has and insists he changes weekly. We think he must wash because surprisingly no smell. We live 65 miles away and keep wondering if we should make a dawn raid before he gets up and leave clean clothes - trouble is he doesn't know we have a key as he refused to give us one and we had to use subterfuge. CPN says he has no remaining cognitive function and only survives alone because of his intelligence and having always had a strict routine. e.g. he goes to bed at 21.50 not quarter to or ten oclock.