Hygiene concerns

BB0304

New member
Aug 11, 2019
3
Good evening
New to the forum but hoping someone might have some useful tips or shared experiences please as I believe the problems we are having are not uncommon with Alzheimers sufferers.

My Mum is in year 3 of her diagnosis (but in reality probably 4-5 years in as we struggled to get a diagnosis) and we've recently been having a number of challenges, mostly around hygiene issues.

She won't take a bath or shower and gets very cross and upset when we suggest she does. She says that she washes every day but we're starting to doubt that now as no products are ever used or towels wet. When we suggest that we'll help wash and blow dry her hair she says she has done it (she simple puts water on her hands and wets it down!)

She also won't put dirty clothes in the wash and continually wears the same underwear and few items of clothing. We've tried buying new clothes (as she used to love them) but even that is now becoming a challenge as she has started to say they are not hers!

The other aspect we are seeing this in is washing up, she no longer fills the bowl and adds washing up liquid, instead just wipes items with a wet cloth and puts them back in cupboards which is a challenge to keep on top of as this is one of the few household tasks she is still involved with.

Any ideas, is or tricks would be most welcome please.

Thank you
 

Lladro

Registered User
May 1, 2019
115
Good evening
New to the forum but hoping someone might have some useful tips or shared experiences please as I believe the problems we are having are not uncommon with Alzheimers sufferers.

My Mum is in year 3 of her diagnosis (but in reality probably 4-5 years in as we struggled to get a diagnosis) and we've recently been having a number of challenges, mostly around hygiene issues.

She won't take a bath or shower and gets very cross and upset when we suggest she does. She says that she washes every day but we're starting to doubt that now as no products are ever used or towels wet. When we suggest that we'll help wash and blow dry her hair she says she has done it (she simple puts water on her hands and wets it down!)

She also won't put dirty clothes in the wash and continually wears the same underwear and few items of clothing. We've tried buying new clothes (as she used to love them) but even that is now becoming a challenge as she has started to say they are not hers!

The other aspect we are seeing this in is washing up, she no longer fills the bowl and adds washing up liquid, instead just wipes items with a wet cloth and puts them back in cupboards which is a challenge to keep on top of as this is one of the few household tasks she is still involved with.

Any ideas, is or tricks would be most welcome please.

Hi, my wife used to be the most meticulously hygiene focused individual! Now it is such hard work to get her to have a shower or even a wash and it has been really annoying me. So I decided to lower my standards a little and will settle for one shower or wash a day now, taking the view that it doesn't really matter even if it goes into two days, as long as she eventually does wash. I also help out by putting the shower on, or filling the sink, I hand her the shower Gell and the towel afterwards, whilst she is washing I dash around getting the clean clothing ready in "putting on" order and snaffling the dirty clothing, throwing it straight into the washing machine before she notices! I have come to realise that my attitude and behaviour is the catalyst to my wife's mood and therefore, I'm the one that has to change , because she cannot.

As far as washing up is concerned, my wife also seems to have no concept that you need to use washing up liquid and will wipe things up with a dirty dishcloth and cold water! What do I do? Well, I used to feel really upset that not only did I decide on the food, cook it, lay the table, clear the table, do the washing up and put the crocks away, but again, its my attitude that determines her mood, so I now let her "help" drying up and then when she wanders off, which she does all the time because it is impossible for her to stay focused - I do it again - properly!

Its tremendously difficult, I'm afraid that you will have to continually adapt to the changing situation and keep trying to find ways around things - You will surprise yourself at just how inventive you will become!

Best wishes

Thank you
 

Joy1960

Registered User
Oct 29, 2018
19
Good evening
New to the forum but hoping someone might have some useful tips or shared experiences please as I believe the problems we are having are not uncommon with Alzheimers sufferers.

My Mum is in year 3 of her diagnosis (but in reality probably 4-5 years in as we struggled to get a diagnosis) and we've recently been having a number of challenges, mostly around hygiene issues.

She won't take a bath or shower and gets very cross and upset when we suggest she does. She says that she washes every day but we're starting to doubt that now as no products are ever used or towels wet. When we suggest that we'll help wash and blow dry her hair she says she has done it (she simple puts water on her hands and wets it down!)

She also won't put dirty clothes in the wash and continually wears the same underwear and few items of clothing. We've tried buying new clothes (as she used to love them) but even that is now becoming a challenge as she has started to say they are not hers!

The other aspect we are seeing this in is washing up, she no longer fills the bowl and adds washing up liquid, instead just wipes items with a wet cloth and puts them back in cupboards which is a challenge to keep on top of as this is one of the few household tasks she is still involved with.

Any ideas, is or tricks would be most welcome please.

Thank you
Hi,
If you can remove the dirty clothes as your mum takes them off you could replace them with duplicate ones for her to wear without her knowing they've been changed!!
Mum says that clothes aren't hers when I put them out for her but I've got them from her wardrobe!!
 

Glokta

Registered User
Jul 22, 2019
61
My mum is similar. No bath or shower for over a year, but will wash hands and face. Found her the other day wiping her face with a pair of wet, soiled knickers which she thought was a flannel. She must have tried to rinse them out. Washing up is dumped all over the kitchen and in the sink, covered with food debris and spit (she’s started spitting on things). I have cleaners who are very understanding, wear gloves and try to keep the kitchen clean. I deal with any soiled items myself. Any suggestion of her showering is met with a determined “I’ve just had one” and much indignation. The GP has advised me to leave it as her and her clothes being grubby is not a huge deal, and I’ve taken his advice and given up. Fortunately she goes to the hairdressers once a week if well enough, and has a wash and set.
 

Bunpoots

Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
3,764
Nottinghamshire
Hello @BB0304

My dad was the same. I used to be pleased if I could get him to have a shower at all!! I did the same as Joy1960 and bought him several sets of identical clothes which I swapped when he wasn't looking. Not easy to do as I didn't live with him so I had to get there early.

What sometimes worked with dad was to switch the shower on and tell him to get in quick as it was wasting water. This only worked if I got there before he got dressed and if I tried it too often he'd just refuse.

As for washing up - I just re-did it when he wasn't looking.

It was very frustrating but mostly I managed to keep him clean-ish although some days I just had to let it be.
He was more co-operative with carers when I decided I just couldn't manage his needs by myself anymore.
 

northumbrian_k

Registered User
Mar 2, 2017
921
Newcastle
This all sounds familiar @BB0304 . Based on my wife's experience, as things regress the person with dementia becomes undiscriminating and so will make use of whatever is at hand. Hence towels get used as toilet paper, tea towels are used to clean the floor, and toilet paper gets used for anything except its true purpose. I used to help my wife undress - under duress as she did not want to - put her in the bathroom and encourage her to have a wash. Over time she forgot how to wash herself, didn't see the point in getting washed and would not let me help her. Sometimes when her carer came in once a week she would have a bath, but before that months went by when she just refused or said that she would do it 'later'.

I'm sorry that I don't have any ideas or tricks. Gentle persuasion might get results but don't bank on it. It may be better to adjust your horizons rather than worry too much about personal hygiene.
 

Hamilton10

New member
Aug 9, 2019
7
Oh God what a relief to read all this. If me and the carer can get my mum in the bath once a month, it's good going. Unfortunately she regularly 'explodes' poo everywhere...(I cant work out what causes this) ...and then I have to tell her she will get an infection if she doesn't wash. Actually, that is the only thing that ever works, she suffers, or thinks she suffers from thrush and I tell her she must have a bath or it will get much worse. She's always been a hypochondriac so the threat of disease will occasionally get her washed. Oh dear, so glad I came back on here!
 

Louise7

Registered User
Mar 25, 2016
1,598
Unfortunately she regularly 'explodes' poo everywhere...(I cant work out what causes this) ...
This can happen with faecal impaction - basically a build up of poo due to constipation which then 'explodes' out. Not pleasant but it can be sorted by preventing constipation. My Mum had this for a short while and it was resolved by increasing fluid intake, daily prunes & prune juice, and using a laxative like lactulose if that didn't work.
 

Donkeyshere

Registered User
May 25, 2016
456
channel islands
Hi all I have exactly the same issue - I have been "moving" the MIL showering stuff around the last few weeks and none of them have moved and infact now have dust on them! Her bedroom has also become quite smelly (I am going to wash the carpet at the weekend) and today I noticed she had the same smell, I know the clothes were clean as I washed them for her on Saturday.

I have mentioned it to my doctor and she said when she gets respite care to ask them to do a full needs assessment unfortunately we had to move this to October so thats a bit of a smelly wait! As the MIL is still quite with it I have asked her if shes ok using the walk in shower (she lives in an annex off our house so its hard to see whats shes doing). She said oh yes but you know how they will say yes just to get out of things! As I am her main carer and I still want her to have some respect, just wondered how I can go about mentioning her getting a shower, I do her washing (but not her underwear she has never let me do them but I do if she is out and quickly pop them in the washing machine). She does wear pads for leakage but nothing more than that - any ideas how to approach this - shes lived with us for 7 years (was diagnosed 2016) and I find it hard to go beyond the line of respect but this needs to be tackled before she gets a UTI. Any ideas would be appreciated.
 

Bunpoots

Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
3,764
Nottinghamshire
I've just remembered another ruse that worked to get my Dad showered and shaved -

"Morning dad." said brightly when I walked in "You've just got time for a shower and shave then we can go to the pub for fish n chips."

I'd switch the shower on, tell him to throw his clothes out of the bathroom so I could put them in the washer and put him clean ones on his bed. He was surprisingly co-operative on a Tuesday...
And I'd have time for a quick chaos-sort while he was busy in the bathroom.

It took me a long time to stumble on something which worked... and once a week was better than never!!
 

Helly68

Registered User
Mar 12, 2018
528
I found, if Mummy and I (late stage dementia now in a CH) went shopping, and I made a bit of a thing about buying a nice shower gel, in a scent she liked, it was then easier to get her into the shower once a week - don't want to waste that nice shower gel we bought eh?
Before she went to the CH, I had to oversee her showering and washing her hair. Now the carers do it for her but she was much more likely to agree to it when at home if I tried to make it more positive.
 

BB0304

New member
Aug 11, 2019
3
Welcome to DTP @BB0304.

Please keep posting as you’ll get lots of help and support here.
Thank you very much for the
Thank you so much for the reassurance, really comforting to know others understand and totally agree with you on lowering expectations, lots of the tricks we used just no longer work and we're now hitting 4 weeks without a shower!
 

BB0304

New member
Aug 11, 2019
3
Thank you all very much for the reassurance and tips, much appreciated. It's really comforting to share with people who really understand. Best wishes
 

Hamilton10

New member
Aug 9, 2019
7
This can happen with faecal impaction - basically a build up of poo due to constipation which then 'explodes' out. Not pleasant but it can be sorted by preventing constipation. My Mum had this for a short while and it was resolved by increasing fluid intake, daily prunes & prune juice, and using a laxative like lactulose if that didn't work.
Thank you yes, I'm told this is the problem. I will try prune juice!