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Hello and a first question


Registered User
Jul 8, 2015
Hello everyone, I've just joined Talking Point as I wanted to have a forum for sharing advice and accessing support in regard to my father who has dementia. He lives independently supported by me and my sister and some care support. We lost my mum feb 14 and she was the lynchpin of our family so we're struggling a bit.

Our immediate issue is about dads personal hygiene - to be blunt he smells! He manages to shave each day but he doesn't wash. We have talked to him and it worked once and he had a shower. But now he gets cross and says he has had a shower when he obviously hasn't. I don't know if it's that he forgets, isn't sure about how to Use the shower or how to wash. I was thinking about making him a sign to remind him but I think we will have to supervise him having a shower and check he can use the shower etc. it's a bit embarrassing with daughters and a father!

Any ideas or tips would be great. Thanks,


Registered User
Jul 6, 2015
Hi Pianocat,

Welcome. Sorry to hear about the shower problem. My dad also doesn't shower much, but that is because he finds it stressful now, so my mum has to strip wash him. She'll do his top half one day and his bottom half the other day. She has to shave him too, because he can't remember how to do it.

How about changing his clothes? Does he still do that regularly? I've found that even if dad refuses to wash or shower, making sure that he wears clean clothes every day eliminates bad smells. Obviously not ideal, but better than nothing. Maybe someone else has a good idea.



Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
SW London
How about changing his clothes? Does he still do that regularly? I've found that even if dad refuses to wash or shower, making sure that he wears clean clothes every day eliminates bad smells. Obviously not ideal, but better than nothing. Maybe someone else has a good idea.

We had the devil's own job to get my FIL to have a bath - he would do it sometimes for OH, who was often away for weeks, but never for me.

However I had the clean clothes business down to a fine art - had to, or he'd have worn the same things for months and asking him to change was a waste of breath. I would have a clean set all ready and watch like a hawk for when he went to the loo first thing. Then I would zoom in and do a swap. He never noticed, but then my FIL had never given much of a toss what he wore.


Registered User
Jan 29, 2013
South Wales
I'm sure I've read that showers can be frightening for dementia sufferers, the visual perception of the water coming down being like knives. My mum certainly stopped using her shower and made excuses that it wasn't working etc (it was) and explained that she used to strip wash in the sink. (I don't believe she did regularly) and she didn't have a bath tub (I think she quite likes baths in the care home now, is it worth trying that?)
It's a tough frustrating phase - I used to visit (I didn't live near) and make excuses about needing her to change so I could load the washing machine, or buying new clothes and getting her to try them on and sneaking the dirty smelly ones into the machine. It's hard to do it without being hurtful. She was always immaculate. She quite enjoyed getting her hair washed in the sink however and blown dry and was grateful for that.


Registered User
Sep 17, 2010
Is your Dad at the stage when he might accept the carer helping him to shower? Carers aren't "family" and because they're uniformed look like nurses. If someone looking like a nurse told your Dad matter of factly "It's time for your shower now - I've got the bathroom ready for you so please come along" would he co-operate?


Registered User
Sep 17, 2014
Changing clothes

Hygiene is a problem for us. Fortunately husband enjoys going to a gym and showers there but not at home. I put clean clothes on his pillow every morning and he puts dirty clothes in basket when he goes to bed. Recently I had an 8 day stay in hospital and he didn't change clothes once. Need ideas to encourage husband to independently change his clothes. We do not need carers but I am going to have at least two more ops.
Any ideas? Or just grin and bear it as its only temporary?


Registered User
Aug 4, 2015
Hello Pianocat,

I am sorry but there is no easy solution for you. I really understand your problem. My brother and I have a similar situation with my mother.

In the early days we probably obsessed about her cleanliness, but as the disease has progressed and she became incontinent and lost bowel control it now becomes a health issue.

One thing we have learned is that there is no use in asking her if she wants a shower or reasoning with her about cleanliness. It only elicits a "NO", makes her agitated and non-cooperative.

The only way we can voluntarily get her in the bathroom is to approach her when she is in the hallway near the bathroom, with clean pad and take her hand without saying anything and lead her to the bathroom. Even then as we are stripping her, she can become agitated and may unexpectedly slap us. This is the big difference between our situation and yours, as your father may be big and strong, whilst mum is not. The different gender is definitely a factor in the resistance (particularly in our case where she no longer recognises us as her sons).

Mum has female carers three times a day and only the two who visit her the most generally can get her into the bathroom (using the same technique). Consistency and therefore trust of carers is an important factor. Even 9 years down the line, most week we read in the notes that carers are still asking mum if she "wants her pad changed", with never "yes" as the answer!