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Help! Mum’s been in the same clothes for 2 weeks :o(

HKGT

New member
Sep 13, 2020
6
My mum has dementia, dad is her main carer but it’s down to my sister and me to help her change her clothes, do teeth etc. Mum doesn’t change her clothes or shower, teeth, wash at all anymore and we’re in a horrible phase where she’ll not let any of us help her :eek:(

she’s been in the same clothes now for 2 weeks and we’re having a daily battle to try and get them off her to put clean ones on...... she’s incredibly strong and gets very angry and upset. She doesn’t understand what we’re saying anymore and doesn’t have the vocabulary, she growls and shouts and crys. I’d really appreciate some advice, we’re at our wits end ....
 

lemonbalm

Registered User
May 21, 2018
574
Hello @HKGT . It sounds as though the time has come for professional help. Somebody from outside the family, who is wearing a carer's uniform, is often able to carry out personal care when family members cannot (sometimes it can take two carers). You don't mention whether you have any help with your mum or whether she has had any needs assessments so far. You can approach a private care company if your family are able to afford that, or contact Social Services. You mum is entitled to a needs assessment in any case. Carers will be used to this scenario. It is not unusual for someone with dementia to resist personal care and to be distressed by it. Is you mum on any medication?

This link may be of help to you (I have assumed you are in England).

 

Duggies-girl

Registered User
Sep 6, 2017
2,038
Hi @HKGT It's a common problem and difficult to cope with. My dad didn't have a shower for a year. He used to announce that he was going for a wash and would go into the bathroom and then come out five minutes later truly believing he had just had a wash, he hadn't of course, I used to go and check the sink and it would be bone dry. I did get some dry shampoo on his hair occasionally which helped.

For some reason dad never got smelly but he did change his clothes regularly. I would just pick the dirty one's up and put clean one's in their place. He had a number of identical shirts so he didn't notice.

It's such a strange thing to understand, dad would shave 3 or 4 times a day and was always combing his hair so he obviously cared about his appearance so why couldn't he have a wash.

Sorry that is no help to you but at least you know it's a common problem.
 

HKGT

New member
Sep 13, 2020
6
Thank you, it’s nice to know we’re not alone. So hard, she’d be mortified if she knew :eek:(

We are in the uk and have had an assessment , one in 2018 and again last year. We tried carers once before but they didn’t have much luck either sadly. We’re also a bit stuck right now as Dad has copd so is really vulnerable for covid, we’re all understandably nervous about people coming to the house. We were due to start a care package just before lockdown but had to cancel when it all kicked off. Mum is on risperidone but that’s it, she flatly refuses tablets of any form..... she is absolutely not becoming a sweet old lady anytime soon and can still give agood backhander if you don’t move away fast enough!!

we had started looking at possible care homes and were due to visit at the end of march..... the best laid plans eh?! we’ve all noticed a big decline in mum in the past 6 months.

showerwise I hear you, i managed to get mum in the shower twice in one week back in may when she had a bad tummy....... she eats anything that isn’t out of reach, not managed since then though....
 

Rosettastone57

Registered User
Oct 27, 2016
1,350
My mother in law had carers for 3 years and refused personal care constantly. Her hair wasn't washed for the whole 3 years. It was finally resolved by her going to full time residential care.
 

lemonbalm

Registered User
May 21, 2018
574
Hmm, I suppose you've tried the no rinse shampoos and bodywash foams. It's infuriating when we so often see people with dementia portrayed in the media as sweet old doddery things. It's so often not the case. Some people go so far as to deliberately wet the clothes of the person with dementia is wearing in the hope that they will be then willing, or even keen, to take them off but, having never tried it myself, I can't actually recommend it... My mum's in a care home now but is extremely resistant to showering. She does seem ok with a "strip wash" at the sink in the morning though. I suppose that's what her generation was used to.
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
889
High Peak
'Oh dear mum - I've spilled my (barely tepid) cup of tomato soup all over you. I'm so sorry I'm really clumsy! Let's get you into some clean clothes.'
 

Ruth1974

Registered User
Dec 26, 2018
108
My mum has dementia, dad is her main carer but it’s down to my sister and me to help her change her clothes, do teeth etc. Mum doesn’t change her clothes or shower, teeth, wash at all anymore and we’re in a horrible phase where she’ll not let any of us help her :eek:(

she’s been in the same clothes now for 2 weeks and we’re having a daily battle to try and get them off her to put clean ones on...... she’s incredibly strong and gets very angry and upset. She doesn’t understand what we’re saying anymore and doesn’t have the vocabulary, she growls and shouts and crys. I’d really appreciate some advice, we’re at our wits end ....
I had this (and still do ) with my o/h. I left him to it quite a lot but I found that as his memory deteriorated it was easier because when, "shall I run you a bath?" Didn't work I could leave it ten minutes and say, "oh,I'm sorry, you were wanting me to run you a bath". Or, "I've run your bath". Then as soon as he is in the bath,all his clothes go in the machine and I change his bed, he usually doesnt stay in for long so it's a quick turnaround!

He hasn't brushed his teeth for 3 years, I decided not to even attempt to solve that one!
 

HKGT

New member
Sep 13, 2020
6
Hello @HKGT





If this happening, is it possible your mum thinks she is being forced to strip and is trying to defend herself.?
Intuitively I think that's exactly what's going on! So any ideas how to get round it? If she could understand our words it'd be a huge help
 

HKGT

New member
Sep 13, 2020
6
Hmm, I suppose you've tried the no rinse shampoos and bodywash foams. It's infuriating when we so often see people with dementia portrayed in the media as sweet old doddery things. It's so often not the case. Some people go so far as to deliberately wet the clothes of the person with dementia is wearing in the hope that they will be then willing, or even keen, to take them off but, having never tried it myself, I can't actually recommend it... My mum's in a care home now but is extremely resistant to showering. She does seem ok with a "strip wash" at the sink in the morning though. I suppose that's what her generation was used to.
We have the no rinse shampoo which works now and again. She's a wanderer too so never sits still for very long. My sister got her to put clean pants on two weeks ago and cut the ones underneath so when she next went to the toilet they'd fall off. I like the idea of trying to wet or spill something (probably water in case it doesn't work!) on her clothes, see if that helps- at this point I'm up to try anything, it can't be comfortable for her.

I so wish I'd joined this forum before, it's so good to hear that this isn't something a lot of people have an issue with, it was starting to feel like mum had this version of dementia that no one knew what to do with.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
71,775
Kent
Intuitively I think that's exactly what's going on! So any ideas how to get round it? If she could understand our words it'd be a huge help
The only thing I can think of is a carer in a uniform resembling a nurse. Also they would be holding the clean clothes so mum can see them. It might just trigger a positive reaction.

I would try to use gestures rather than words and maintain a smiling face. If your mum sees you smiling and happy instead of looking cross or worried she might get the message instead of being afraid..
 

Up the Creek

Registered User
Sep 9, 2020
16
East Anglia
My mum used to have a weekly shower and hair wash until her Friday club stopped back in February. After that I tried several times to encourage her to have a shower but she refused, saying she has a strip wash every night. Her flannel is always wet and she doesn’t smell so I have to accept that she is washing

it was more problematic getting her to wash her hair. After seven weeks on not washing it - she would say it’s ok as she brushed it everyday (yes mum but it’s greasy and nasty-looking 🙄) and with our first hair appointment when lockdown eased I was panicking that the hairdresser would send her home, I discovered no water shampoo! Yay! Next was how to get her to try it. I washed my own as usual and presented the bottle saying ‘ wow, look at this, you can wash your hair without water, want to try it? ‘ We haven’t looked back. She even came to me this week and asked if it was time to wash her hair!

My mum will usually change her clothes once a week but some times I will go into her room when she is ready for bed with an armful of laundry and tell her I’m doing a wash can I freshen hers up too and pick them up and walk off with them!

I’m wondering HKGT if you could tell her that you are taking her out somewhere, start changing trousers/skirt/cardigan, anything, so she can see what’s happening and say to your mum, ‘lets pick something nice out for you too mum‘ or ‘you’d be more comfortable in this‘ and go to her wardrobe. Maybe she is having problem deciding on what to change into? If she isn’t going anywhere she might not see a need to wear anything different?
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
551
My mum has dementia, dad is her main carer but it’s down to my sister and me to help her change her clothes, do teeth etc. Mum doesn’t change her clothes or shower, teeth, wash at all anymore and we’re in a horrible phase where she’ll not let any of us help her :eek:(

she’s been in the same clothes now for 2 weeks and we’re having a daily battle to try and get them off her to put clean ones on...... she’s incredibly strong and gets very angry and upset. She doesn’t understand what we’re saying anymore and doesn’t have the vocabulary, she growls and shouts and crys. I’d really appreciate some advice, we’re at our wits end ....
We used to get PRN medication for ‘ interventions‘
PRN = patients rarely needit !
Not really it’s something in Latin! But not a bad way to remember it!

Many problems with this plan!
Getting someone to prescribe the medication you require!
It isn’t going to be prescribed for every day use! So would a shower on Fridays be ok?
Administering the medication. To conceal the medication would not be right. Do you store it in a cupboard where it could fall into a petit fillous on a Friday or do you think it could be difficult for you?

Everyone on this site seems to like ‘Teepa Snow ‘ on you tube!
I may have got the name wrong, but hopefully enough clues ( please feel free to correct me anyone with real insight?)
She has you tube videos for a lot of things!

Wishing you well! Not an easy problem to solve!
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
551
I tried to stop myself posting @Grannie G compassionate communication, as regulars will think ‘ not again’! but vey sorry I just couldn’t help it!

 

HKGT

New member
Sep 13, 2020
6
Thank you so much for the advice and for the support, definitely some things to try.....wish me luck! x