1. InnerGeek

    InnerGeek Registered User

    Feb 9, 2016
    114
    I'm caring for my Dad who is currently functioning at the stage 5 level, with some stage 6 behaviours creeping in. No formal diagnosis as yet, we are still waiting for the appointment from the memory clinic, but mentally he is losing his abilities very quickly. Physically, he is incredibly fit, strong and stable.

    I've read around loads, and come across some very helpful advice, but I can't find anything that relates to my issue. Dad can dress and undress himself independently, but has no clue about the difference between clean and dirty clothes. It's not that he has a preference for wearing a particular outfit over and over, just that as soon as he's taken an item of clothing off he has no idea whether it is clean or dirty.

    If you ask him to give you his dirty clothes, he'll give you one or two genuinely worn items, but will also give you things straight off the clothes airer or from his wardrobe and drawers.

    Up until now we've managed by giving him a laundry bag that he puts his clothes into as soon as he takes them off, then I immediately take that out of the room (out of sight, out of mind) and give him clean undies for the next day - this was the only way we could guarantee his undies were getting changed as he kept giving us clean ones when we had the whole stock in his room. Now he has carers looking after him four times a day and Dad is back to piling his laundry bag with whatever has been drying on the airer that day, including undies. The carers understandably can't know what's clean and what's dirty.

    He's already had one UTI that hit him very hard so any advice on how I can make sure his dirty undies make it into the wash (and clean clothes don't!) would be really appreciated.
     
  2. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,302
    Female
    South coast
    Hello Innergeek and welcome to Talking Point

    This is a common problem - quite often they will simply wear the sames things day after day because they dont remember that its dirty

    I think that this is usually the only way to get them them to change their clothes. Although mum had a basket marked "dirty clothes" that was very seldom what went into it (used tissues were the main content). Is one of the carers times so that they can help his get ready for bed? If so can you get whoever does that time slot to take his clothes as they come off and put them in the laundry bag?
     
  3. BillBRNC

    BillBRNC Registered User

    Jan 26, 2016
    40
    USA NC
    I've been thinking about a lot these days, and dressing is one. I can still dress and pick generally appropriate stuff, but I'm still somewhat early in the process. But I know it will get worse, so I think about it. I think I might get rid of almost everything I have for clothes, not all really, but I think the best thing might be to have two winter pants, maybe 4 winter shirts, two summer pants, and maybe 4 summer shirts, all shirts the same, all pants the same. This way I won't have anything to choose from, and I won't have to worry about what my wife might put on me to wear. Just keep it so simple. Just been thinking about it. Haven't even told wife yet. I do sometimes catch mysief putting on two pairs of pants, or a shirt that is wrong for weather, and I really hate that I seem to have trouble remember to zipper my pants. But that stuff is just small stuff, so no big deal.
     
  4. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    4,624
    USA
    I think many of us have been there with the clothes issue, one way or another. My mother (Alzheimer's and poor short-term memory) will have "favourite" items that she will want to wear over and over. I see the same blouse quite a lot! She will also decide that some items of clothing don't fit and so will reject them. And she seems to need, or feel comforted by, having a certain amount of clothing around. Before the care home, she had piles and piles and piles of clothing all over her home, on every piece of furniture, and three closets full, and dressers, and...you get the idea.

    I think that supervising the undressing and whisking away the dirty underthings, is a good idea and I would keep that system.

    Perhaps don't have the carers ask him for his dirty laundry? And ask the carers to only put visibly soiled clothing into the laundry bag/basket/hamper, which then gets removed from his sight? The carers could also quietly (and out of his sight) replace clean items that your dad removes from the airer and hands to them, perhaps.

    My only other idea is to limit his access to the clean laundry. I'd have one or two outfits in his room/wardrobe/dresser, available to him, and maybe some extra underthings, but that would cut down on how much clean laundry gets identified as dirty.

    I hope someone else here has a good idea for you. Good luck and let us know how you get on!
     
  5. InnerGeek

    InnerGeek Registered User

    Feb 9, 2016
    114
    Thanks so much the your responses.

    Canary the carers are supposed to help with breakfast, lunch, dinner and bed but their times aren't really working out that way. The dinner visit happens at 3pm (when he is given his 'evening' meds) and the bedtime visit happens at 6pm (when he is given his 'nighttime' meds) so there's no real assistance with his clothes and bedtime routine. I've been told that they'll see what they can do to improve the times, but that it is likely to take a few weeks to free up a later slot.

    BillBRNC I love your plan, that sounds so workable! I wonder if we might be able to adopt and adapt...

    Amy in the US His dressing/undressing isn't supervised, he still does this on his own in his bedroom which is why it can be a bit confusing trying to work out what exactly he has put into the laundry bag. I've realised yesterday and today that he is changing his clothes at least once during the day - he's in different socks in the evening to what he had on in the morning! That is possibly a step forward - if only I could find his dirties! The clothes from the airer are put into the bag when the carers aren't around, so again it's a case of me trying to remember what was just washed and ferreting out the clean stuff. He's getting a new tumble dryer soon which should keep his clean clothes out of sight until I can put them away.

    I really do like the suggestions for limiting his wardrobe. I've been so scared of taking away his independence and falling foul of deprivation of liberties rules that I think I've created an impossible situation. We'll try to remove some of his clothes bit by bit and restore some sense of order to it all. He too has clothes all over the house, many of which are soooo old and stained! He's a rummager, so they will have to be spirited away rather than just hidden though.
     
  6. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    7,390
    Yorkshire
    #6 Shedrech, Feb 10, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
    Hi InnerGeek
    Just wondering whether the evening visit is only for meds - or whether the carer could supervise your dad getting into his pjs and a dressing gown and leave him with a hot drink and biscuit - he can then go to bed when he's ready to sleep, but isn't undressing alone - and the carer can spirit away that day's clothes, maybe even leaving out a clean set for next day (as long as your dad won't change into these to go to bed - has been known)
    your dad can undress himself for as long as he is able - but is also getting used to having a carer around to help him undress for when he needs that - this helped my dad

    and do keep any clothes that you hide away when you decimate his wardrobe - just so that you are not then having to buy lots more in the future when you need them to change into when he's had 'accidents'

    just read the last bit of your latest post - please don't get tied up with all the DoLs stuff. it's really for institutions not for you caring for your own dad - you go ahead and do what is best for him in his situation - there's independence and dignity; and there's letting him get in a pickle and tangling himself up because you are fearful of 'legislation' - no-one sensible will criticise you for making his day to day living less stressful - we do what is right for our own

    Hi BillBRNC
    dad started having trouble with the zip/buttons on his trousers/pants - so for his modesty and ease of use we bought pull up ones, with elasticated waistbands so that he didn't have to deal with undoing ties either - some are just jogging bottoms, but some are actually quite smart
    the old adage for clothes (when they were a major expense in the household) was: 1 off, 1 on and 1 in the wash = 3 of everything (does assume laundry can be dried quickly) - so maybe have more than 2 of pants and such
     
  7. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    4,624
    USA
    Hello InnerGeek, hope you're having an okay day today.

    I think that Shedrech gave you good advice about the DoL situation. Please do try not to be hard on yourself; caring for someone with dementia is difficult enough without placing more and more expectations on yourself. I know this is easy to say, and difficult to do, but people keep telling me to be kind, gentle, and forgiving to myself, so I will pass that along!

    A couple more thoughts:

    -I agree that if you want to get rid of clothes that are no longer wearable, or even just to assess them, that you should wash and keep anything that is still usable. I made the mistake of getting rid of some items I should have kept (wrong bag went to the charity shop-oops) and had to replace a number of items at short notice, and then try to persuade my mother that the "new" items were acceptable. Very stressful and expensive.

    -I also agree it's best to quietly remove anything you want to take away, don't announce it, don't ask, don't make a fuss, just bag it up or hide it in your bag when he's not looking. If it's not in her direct line of sight, my mother doesn't notice or "see" things that are happening. While we do try to remove rubbish, et cetera, when she is not in her room (she's in a care home), sometimes we have to do it while she's there, and we can usually manage this. It can spark a reaction, though, so go with your instincts and be cautious.

    -when my mother asks where something is (like the socks with holes I threw out), I just tell her it's in the wash, or at the laundry/dry cleaners, or I meant to bring it to her today but forgot. She always accepts this, especially if I say, dramatically (to me): "Oh! I meant to bring that today and forgot! My memory is so terrible!" and then we both laugh and she moves on. If I tell her I don't know where something is, she tears her room apart to search. I don't mind the destruction, but she gets agitated about it and sometimes fixates on the item. I do mind the agitation so I just try to avoid getting there, if that makes sense.

    -my mother is often resistant to "new" items, from towels to clothing. I learnt this the hard way when I tried to give her the new trousers (never mind she'd asked for them; no logic in dementia, I keep telling myself) and she rejected them over and over and eventually got upset. So now I just bring it with me in a bag. She will always say, what's in the bag? I respond, oh, I brought you your trousers/jumper/scarf/whatever. I make sure it doesn't have tags and is folded the way she would have folded the laundry. She always says, oh, I was looking for that, where was it? and I respond, it was in the laundry, and she always accepts this.

    Again, best wishes, and hope you can find something workable for you.
     
  8. Seancu

    Seancu Registered User

    Feb 11, 2016
    1
    Enfield, Middlesex.
    #8 Seancu, Feb 11, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
    Clothes

    I have suddenly realized that my dad isn't sure where clean clothes are kept in his room and that is why I have been finding clothes in his bed! This is the one and only subject he gets angry about, which is out of character. I am embarking on a major reorganization of his room and I will put signs on the sock drawer etc with a photo of a sock and the same for the laundry bin. He can sometimes be very literal, so when I talk about clean clothes, he will say something is 'clean' meaning that it doesn't have stains on it, not that it hasn't been worn. I am wondering, therefore, what to call the laundry basket - if I say it is for dirty clothes, he may well insist that only things that he can see are dirty go into it! I suppose the main problem is that this is a male household; my mother died over twenty years ago, so he is out of the habit of putting clothes he takes off anywhere but on the floor (Unfortunately like me!). However, if I don't get to them quickly (I have mobility problems at the moment), he will put them on again the next day. It is strange that clothes is the one area that produces upset!
     
  9. InnerGeek

    InnerGeek Registered User

    Feb 9, 2016
    114
    Thanks for the tip about keeping wearable clothes for later. I guess I'm still in denial a bit, but that's really good advice.

    The 'bedtime' visit has been too early for him to get undressed (5.30/6.00pm) - they are supposed to take his dirty clothes off him once he's bagged them up, but that visit is spent helping him to micro his evening meal instead. They're hoping to rearrange the visit times over the next few weeks, but no quick fix.

    I'm not sure how he would take to having supervision to undress. Some things, like his finances, he couldn't hand over fast enough, but other areas of his independence he clings to very tightly - for example he's put a financial affairs PoA in place, but refuses to even consider the health & welfare one.

    That's reassuring to know about the DoLs. Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing! I'll try to stop overthinking everything. I'm perhaps trying to keep Dad a bit too involved in things (I'd planned on getting him to help sort the clothes out) but thinking it through now I really don't think that's workable. I need to get my head around my role being to help him to live independently, rather than to actually 'be' independent.

    So far Dad's not too bad with new clothes, but it helps if they are similar to ones he already has - otherwise we have a lot of conversations involving the words "Oh, are these mine then?" :)
     
  10. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    7,390
    Yorkshire
    #10 Shedrech, Feb 13, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016
    Hi Seancu
    Just noticed that this was your first post - so a warm welcome :)
    I know what you mean about the 'literal' bit - makes me realise how much of what we say isn't exactly specific; dad is so good at picking me up on what I say and he's not being nasty he just can't do 'lateral' of flexible thinking anymore - I wonder if talking about clothes as 'worn' for dirty and unworn for clean may help him take on the distinction
    I did put a notice on dad's laundry basket to tell him to put all his clothes from that day straight into it when he got undressed - it did mean that trousers went in there too so I had to make sure he had enough and only wore easily washable ones - but for a while it worked and he didn't often get the clothes out of it in the morning

    Hi InnerGeek
    I'm really pleased if I wrote something helpful
    sounds to me as though you are doing just great :)
     
  11. LoisJean

    LoisJean Registered User

    Me, too, Bill. My normal habit was to dress for the day..every day. I live alone and find that most times now I just stay in pjs at home or sweats when going out. Having to dress the way I used to is mentally challenging--I just don't seem to have a clear sense of what to put on or even why I should put anything on. I find myself going back and forth from hanger to hanger unable to make a simple decision... this bothers me, frustrates me. I try to lay out daytime clothes for myself at bedtime. That doesn't always work. This same pattern happens with what used be normal bathing routine...I have to literally Will to will my body into the shower or tub. Soon I may have to leave notes to myself. (Happily, daily bathing is not always recommended for folks my age.) And I am fast finding out that shoestrings, drawstrings and buttons are not my friends anymore.

    I like your thoughts on thinning out the closet. I can see where that might be beneficial for me. I will add this to my list. My goal is to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. Thanks so much for your input. LoisJean
     
  12. InnerGeek

    InnerGeek Registered User

    Feb 9, 2016
    114
    Just wanted to post an update, now that everything's been in place for a few days. Dad's wardrobe has been thinned out to several t-shirts, polo shirts, jumpers, jeans and undies. I have eight large bags of 'old' and summer type clothes now but thanks to your advice I'll be hanging on to these.

    Dad hasn't mentioned his clothes no longer being there, and it's making it a lot easier for me and his carers to give him clean clothes each night. The care visits are still really badly timed so I'm having to do an additional evening visit myself but I'll be getting onto the care agency about that again tomorrow.

    Thanks again for the advice and insight, it's given me a lot of reassurance in a week full of doubts.
     
  13. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    7,390
    Yorkshire
    Hi InnerGeek
    so pleased that you've made successful improvements
    as is often said 'every little helps'
    do keep popping back :)
     

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