• All threads and posts regarding Coronavirus COVID-19 can be found in our area specifically for Coronavirus COVID-19 discussion.

    You can directly access this area >here<.

How can I get my mother to have a wash?

josephinewilson

Registered User
May 19, 2015
112
Lancashire
Frustrated and failing to get mother to bathe

I started this thread a couple of months back when I was trying to get my mother to bathe/shower. I managed it for about three weeks (once a week on Friday) and then I had to go away on business (which I do fairly regularly, unfortunately) and when I came back, it was as if she had forgotten all the progress we had made. She has either refused point blank to be showered, or been fast asleep in bed in the early evenings when I have come around to try. I have a key to her flat. (Hard to tell if she is doing it deliberately, as she tears up and bins the reminder cards I place around her flat, or if she genuinely forgets I am coming and just goes to bed - she has odd sleeping hours as many old people do. ) I have made a 'fake' doctor's form with her surgery's logo etc with dates and space for signature, put it high on the wall and told her she needs to let me see her shower so I don't get into trouble at the doctor's for not looking after her properly. But she just shrugs as if she is not bothered.

I am running ouf of threats! I've even tried the 'if you can't prove you can keep yourself clean then you will have to go into a home" threat. She loves her sheltered accommodation and would hate to be cooped up in a home - but she simply says "Well I willl go into a home then!" She really reminds me of an awkward five year old crossed with a sulky teenager!

I am not sure where to go from here. I mean - she is a bit smelly but doesn't actually look dirty. I try to get her clothes off her once a week to clean them, but it was easier when I could get her into the shower - then I could sneak them into a bag to take home and clean.

The one thing I haven't said is "people say you smell!" Should I try that one, or would she just shrug that one off too? I have also thought of bribing her - I take her out to a supermarket cafe every other day for a trip outside and to get shopping. I thought I could say: "if we can shower you first, then we can go out to the shops". And if she refuses to let me shower her, then I simply don't take her out. I would of course get her shopping etc, but not take her out with me. Is that cruel? Should I disregard that option? I know her condition means she cannot process things and so is that an unkind strategy doomed to failure?

I also thought of having a quiet word with her doctor to see if he/she could convince her, if I made her an appointment. She doesn't go regularly to the doctor's now she has been diagnosed as there is nothing they can do and she hasn't got anything else wrong with her apart from dementia, but I could request they give her a check up I suppose.
Carers have tried and failed. My mother is not incontient and can eat and drink OK. Am I making too big a thing of this trying to bathe her once a week? If I continuously fail, would we have to consider a home?
 

fizzie

Registered User
Jul 20, 2011
2,727
I tried the 'people think your smelly' in the early days and it had absolutely no impact what so ever!!!

What changed things for us was I employed a carer to come in every morning for half an hour and an hour on saturdays and she did a strip wash - my mum didn't have a bath or a shower for 4 years and she didn't smell because a) the carer was a bloomin miracle worker and b) we went to the continence nurse and they provided NHS pads which were wonderful and we never looked back

Don't know if that helps at all xx
 

Selinacroft

Registered User
Oct 10, 2015
936
Hi Josephine
Well done on your perseverance. I'm having a similar problem with Dad, he is not allowed upstairs and downstairs we just have a basin and toilet with no shower or bath. As he is self funding Social Services wouldn't pay for a wet room and nor would Dad- see my other thread on scrooge like tendencies!
Consultant who visited recently asked Dad if he managed to wash himself regularly and he said yes of course - no problems. His mobility is very poor and I doubt this very much. As a daughter I can't offer to wash him, we don't have that sort of relationship and I have seen to much already!:eek::eek:
I am in the process of changing care agency and the new one will be visiting for half an hour a morning. The initial chat with their rep sounded promising and she said once he got used to one or two regular carers they could start trying to assist with personal care once a week and see how it goes. The previous agency have sent up to 100 or so different mostly hapless and rushed staff who never see Dad twice in the same month. I hope this change works out a lot better.
 

josephinewilson

Registered User
May 19, 2015
112
Lancashire
thanks

Thanks both for your comments and good luck with the carers.

The reason I am trying to bathe my mother is that we first tried with her favourite carer for a month but she just refused everytime, claiming - in the morning -that she bathed herself in the evenings - and in the evenings that she bathed herself in the mornings.

I guess I will keep going round a couple of times a week and see if one evening she capitulates. I can't try in the mornings because I start work early. (And anyway, if I tried in the mornings she would only claim she showers in the evenings:) )
 

LadyA

Registered User
Oct 19, 2009
13,643
Ireland
You could try bath in bed wipes. I used them for my husband for a while. You can warm them, and if there are objections to undressing, just reach in under the clothing.
Also, if it's the undressing in front of you that's the issue (and it often is), I made William a "modesty robe " for the shower, basically a length of towelling with velcro fastening on it that he kept around him in the shower. As it got wet, I encouraged him to use it to wash the underneath parts with the robe. It made him a lot more inclined to cooperate about washing - the fact that he didn't have to be naked in front of someone.
 

Pear trees

Registered User
Jan 25, 2015
441
I have similar problems with my mother not washing properly, if she tries at all. Her bathroom is old with shower over bath, am looking at getting walk in shower fitted I am going to use bed bath wipes and no rinse shower cap today. I have bought her new clothes to try on to get her to cnange and will tell her the wipes are a new skin moisturiser from GP (little lie).
 

josephinewilson

Registered User
May 19, 2015
112
Lancashire
Bed bath wipes

I had never heard of these and I like the idea. Thankyou both. I also like your little white lie Peartrees - I had to get some cream for my mother as the warden noticed her legs were very flaky. She does put the cream on (her legs look better) but refused to let me bathe even just her legs. However, based on my success with the leg cream I think telling her the wipes are "a new skin moisturiser from the GP" might well have some success - I will go and buy some of these wipes and give the strategy a go :)
Incidentally, my mother's bath is a walk in bath, with shower and even a seat to sit in. Still bone dry and gathering cobwebs though
 

Toddleo

Registered User
Oct 7, 2015
411
I just want to say that I completely relate to this thread. Mum has not washed, changed her clothes (sleeps in them too) or washed her hair for months. I was a bit embarrassed about it, but seeing this on here, I feel much better about it. The GP is not overly concerned about it though, and as her dementia progresses, I will just go with the flow, although I am going to investigate those wipes because mum is now doubly incontinent and hygiene is now paramount! I have also seen hair wash caps which don't require water, anyone familiar with those?
 

josephinewilson

Registered User
May 19, 2015
112
Lancashire
Hello Toddleo - join the unwashed mothers club :)
I haven't heard of those non-water required hair wash caps - ironically my mother who refuses to wash the rest of her body has a shampoo and set every Saturday in the lounge of the sheltered acommodation with the mobile hairdresser! She has magnificent hair and a grimy body! (I do sometimes worry that the mobile hairdresser might think my mother is a bit whiffy while she is doing her hair, but console myself with the fact that the hairdresser is doing this in a place full of old ladies with various conditions; my mother probably can't be the only one!)
 

Pear trees

Registered User
Jan 25, 2015
441
I bought the bed bath wipes and no rinse shampoo caps from Amazon. They are made by Clinell and come in packs of 8 wipes and are NHS recommended. Both are easy to use.
 

Tubbsy

Registered User
Sep 5, 2010
110
Surrey
I'd like to join the club! I seriously don't think my mum has washed for months and wears the same filthy clothes for weeks which I also think she's sleeping in! Strangely, she doesn't smell but she looks filthy. I took her to get her hair cut last week, which also hadn't been washed or brushed for god knows how long and the hairdresser had a look of disgust on her face. Now, I have always had a difficult realtionship with my mum, but I found that very hurtful, for my mum. She was always immaculate, dressed in expensive clothes and here she was, looking like a tramp.

Anyway, we now have carers going in twice a day, which she doesn't like, so hoping they will get her to wash, but I doubt it! They told me yesterday, there could be skin problems due to lack of washing.....has anyone experienced that? Or even gangrene because she hasn't changed her socks for weeks!!
 

LadyA

Registered User
Oct 19, 2009
13,643
Ireland
Just to add, one other thing I learned with William. Elderly people generally and people with dementia particularly, feel the cold much more than we would. A bathroom that feels nice and warm to us, will possibly still feel pretty chilly to them. I found that for William to feel comfortable temperature wise, I had to use extra heat in the bathroom as well as the radiator. I have an wired-in electric panel heater in there, which will bring the room temperature up to what you set. William I found was comfortable with the temperature of the room at 25c. The care assistant and I were just about melted!
 

Dimelza

Registered User
May 28, 2013
130
Tubbsy I've experienced that with my dad. His arms became chapped and sore with cracking skin simply due to the fact his dead skin cells weren't being shed properly as he never ever bathed. They were severely infected by the time I got to see them under his long sleeves and he was very close to being admitted for IV medication. He still refused bath or shower, mind you.
It was such an upsetting battle that I gave up, much as it was upsetting as he was always a very smart, proud man before dementia.
However it's one of the blessings of him being in a CH and rapidly decreasing mobility as they shower him daily and as I joke, he can't escape it! I'd estimate it had been 3 years since he was last bathed or showered!
 

Dimelza

Registered User
May 28, 2013
130

Toddleo

Registered User
Oct 7, 2015
411
We used these for my dad with great results!
In fact I have a drawer full and not sure what to do with them.
Well, if you can't find a good home for them, I would be very happy to take them off your hands! No problem though, if you find a better more local home for them. Let me know (obviously I will pay postage/packaging)
 

Toddleo

Registered User
Oct 7, 2015
411
I'd like to join the club!
You're in Tubbsy!! I felt like I was reading my own story when I read your post, sleeping and living in the same outfit, underclothes and all!! revolting. Mum did get scabies, but it still did not make her change her ways! Bless, she's been in hospital for several months and they have had a degree of success with her body (three showers in three months), but she will not let them near her hair! They bed bath her though (I think that will be my job when she is discharged!:eek:)
 

Azay28

Registered User
Nov 21, 2015
96
Getting mum to have showers

Am really glad to have joined talking point. Just reading this thread and so much is familiar and some good suggestions. My Mum is 84 and was diagnosed in Jan. She lives in a sheltered flat which has only got a shower as they re-did bathrooms about 18 months ago. Mum had always preferred baths and dislikes showers although has said once under water it feels nice but in past 4 months trying to get her to have shower /wash hair has been hard.I've tried coaxing including saying she'll smell/look awful/stop any infections/ take it while I'm here whatever I think of. One time I spent an hour and half with her doing chores and every 20mins suggesting showering she even got as far as bathroom door but couldn't face going in. I decided best to leave it as I was finding it stressful never mind her! Two hours later got a text saying she'd had a shower! However lately nothing works again and she's even said my hair looks awful but can't get her to do it. We agreed Sunday was THE day to shower but that's not working but like the idea of going over before bedtime and seeing if she'll have one then. I've said things like you don't have to have it in morning or get dressed , do it before bed or stay in nightie afterwards but not had an effect yet. I'm still trying to get used to this caring role. I live 5 mins away and go over most days to sort tablets/food etc and take her out or shopping but it's hard when you work and have a family/home to look after too.:(
Azay 28
 

Pear trees

Registered User
Jan 25, 2015
441
My mum had a no wash shampoo cap today. I popped it in the microwave, onto her head, tucked in hair, massaged and then towel dried it all within 5 minutes. Her hair was soft and clean and smelled lovely. I then bed bath wiped her head to foot with microwave heated wipes in another 5 -10 minutes max. All done in her warm living room with minimum fuss and a quick change of clothes.
A new shower is still an option but these work well as a quick alternative.
 

Members online

Forum statistics

Threads
116,901
Messages
1,710,072
Members
67,665
Latest member
FrankRMC