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Lack of personal hygiene

Debstuck

New member
Nov 24, 2020
3
0
Hi, I care for my Mum and Dad who both have dementia. My Dad was always meticulous about hygiene, but his personal hygiene is non existent now and I'm at my wits end to know how to support him with this. He insists he's showering and changing his clothes regularly, but he hasn't actually showered or washed this year, although he believes he has. He is filthy and his clothes and body are also really dirty and smelly. He just doesn't see this. Any advice please? Debs
 

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
16,992
0
67
Toronto, Canada
Welcome to DTP @Debstuck . Personal hygiene is such a difficult issue. I well remember my previously very fastidious mother absolutely reeking of every body odour at once. It was horrible. I used to offer my mother a choice between a bath or a shower. Sometimes that worked. More than once, I bluntly told her she stunk. Sometimes that worked too.

What about a strip wash? Would he accept any assistance from anyone? I'm thinking a professional here, as often a person will respond better to a stranger than a family member, particularly if that stranger is in some sort of uniform. Does your father change into pyjamas? That's an opportunity to snatch the dirty clothes away at least. What about bribing with a special treat? I'm just throwing out ideas here.

Good luck, I found the smelly time so very difficult emotionally.
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
1,485
0
High Peak
There's always the tried and tested, 'Oh I'm so sorry dad! I've spilled this entire mug of (luke warm) tomato soup all over you! Here - let me help you get showered and changed...'
 

Debstuck

New member
Nov 24, 2020
3
0
Welcome to DTP @Debstuck . Personal hygiene is such a difficult issue. I well remember my previously very fastidious mother absolutely reeking of every body odour at once. It was horrible. I used to offer my mother a choice between a bath or a shower. Sometimes that worked. More than once, I bluntly told her she stunk. Sometimes that worked too.

What about a strip wash? Would he accept any assistance from anyone? I'm thinking a professional here, as often a person will respond better to a stranger than a family member, particularly if that stranger is in some sort of uniform. Does your father change into pyjamas? That's an opportunity to snatch the dirty clothes away at least. What about bribing with a special treat? I'm just throwing out ideas here.

Good luck, I found the smelly time so very difficult emotionally.
Welcome to DTP @Debstuck . Personal hygiene is such a difficult issue. I well remember my previously very fastidious mother absolutely reeking of every body odour at once. It was horrible. I used to offer my mother a choice between a bath or a shower. Sometimes that worked. More than once, I bluntly told her she stunk. Sometimes that worked too.

What about a strip wash? Would he accept any assistance from anyone? I'm thinking a professional here, as often a person will respond better to a stranger than a family member, particularly if that stranger is in some sort of uniform. Does your father change into pyjamas? That's an opportunity to snatch the dirty clothes away at least. What about bribing with a special treat? I'm just throwing out ideas here.

Good luck, I found the smelly time so very difficult emotionally.
Hi Joanne, yes it very difficult emotionally and heart breaking to witness this, when your parents were so fastidious about their personal hygiene in the past. I'm sorry you've experienced this issue too. My Mum has carers in, so I think I might ask them if they could help Dad with a shower. Like you said, it's someone in a uniform and not a family member, so he may accept this! Many thanks for your reply! 😁
 

Ksaunders

New member
Jun 7, 2021
2
0
I’m a new member and finding exactly this issue with my Grandmother who I am now caring for. The issue is all as above but she smells really strongly of wee and it is breaking my heart to see people notice and look at her as if she’s a dirty old lady.
She wears incontinence pads and changes them but doesn’t always catch herself quickly enough and so leaks. Then when you try to encourage her to shower or even wash her clothes she says ‘later’. Her room absolutely stinks and I’m struggling to get through to her.
she has moments of clarity when it sinks in that she needs to clean herself, but she has only washed twice this year and I’m worried about it causing other health complications! Any experience of this?
 

Bunpoots

Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
5,471
0
Nottinghamshire
Welcome to the forum @Ksaunders

I had this problem with my dad. Sometimes turning the shower on (if I got there while he was still in his pjs) and pretending he’d been intending to have a shower would work. Eventually the only way he would wash was if a uniformed carer came in and encouraged him to do so.

Have you tried encouraging your grandma to wash at the sink with a warm flannel if you can’t get her in the shower?
 

Ksaunders

New member
Jun 7, 2021
2
0
Thanks for your reply!
I’ve tried just about everything I can think of! We are now waiting for work to be done to install a shower cubicle in the bathroom and are hoping it will help!
Thing is, I think it’s her clothes that smell. And she isn’t washing them, nor will let me wash them. She tells me she’s just being lazy and needs to do it, and I don’t feel as though she would respond well to me barging in and scooping all of the dirty clothes up, but it is a big contributor to the smells and lack of I really cleanliness.
I’m very inexperienced with this sort of thing and nobody else in our entire family has suffered the way my grandmother is. Trying to balance taking the hard line with making sure she doesn’t see me as heavy handed with things!
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
15,178
0
South coast
Hi @Ksaunders
My OH says exactly the same thing - that hes just being lazy - when you ask him why he isnt doing something anymore, when the actual reason is that he is no longer able to remember how to do it.
With you saying that you dont think she would respond well to you scooping up all her dirty clothes makes me think that she takes them off at night. Do you live with her? I would say nothing and just remove them in the morning - perhaps take her up a cup of tea in the morning and do it while she is distracted by the tea. If she says something, dont try and explain, just say something like "oh Im putting some of my washing on and just want to make up a load". After about a fortnight of me doing something my OH just accepts it.

On a practical note - I use a capful of Zoflora in with the wash to get rid of the smell, which can be very persistent (you can use other in-wash disinfectant too).
 

Bunpoots

Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
5,471
0
Nottinghamshire
I used to do the same as canary with my dad's laundry @Ksaunders. I didn't live with my dad but I'd breeze in and ask him if he'd like a cuppa and do a quick clean, check the bathroom, bedroom (and wardrobe) for stinky clothes and check his bed then put a load of washing in while he was distracted.

To be honest dad still had days when he smelt fairly ripe but once he had regular carers going in every morning they managed to keep him smelling much sweeter. I always called them his helpers, not carers, but they helped with personal care too which dad had been struggling with for a while.
 

Janey B

Registered User
Aug 15, 2019
69
0
Northwest
I was so unaware of all the problemqs that lack of hygiene could cause.
My OH is very reluctant to bathe or wash. Getting him to get dressed everyday is another trial. I try my best to keep him clean.
“But” we have
Infected belly button.
Crusty and weepy eyes
Sore mouth/gums and fungal infection at corner of the mouth.
Seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp and ears
Fungal infection of the toe nails.
So as you can imagine daily treatment and creams are another nightmare 🙄 they appear to clear up but as soon as treatment stops back they come. It’s like he’s going bad.
 

Thethirdmrsc

Registered User
Apr 4, 2018
326
0
My OH also used to be fastidious, and now, if not prompted would never wash. But I have carers 3 times a week, so he does shower, and he responds better to them than me, and I put out clean clothes and while otherwise distracted put his old stuff in the wash.
 

Duggies-girl

Registered User
Sep 6, 2017
2,544
0
Dad had a number of identical shirts and also identical socks and pants so it was easy to just swap them over and he never knew. He would swear blind that he had a shower every day but he didn't shower for a year. He didn't smell so I let it go in the end as I didn't want to hurt his feelings.

Dad slept naked so I suppose his body got a bit of an airing. I just made sure that his sheets were changed regularly and he had clean clothes every day.

It's tricky and you can only do what you can.
 

SalsaKate

New member
May 17, 2021
2
0
We had this with my Mum. We had the bath removed and a large walk-in shower installed, she used it once in two years. She would swear she had washed etc but like you say flannels were dry, toothbrush unused so we knew she hadn’t used them and yes the smell is bad, Dad would casually spray her clothes with febreeze before she got dressed in the morning, didn’t stop the smell completely but helped a little.
We finally started employing a care company to come in each day for half an hour, she is happy for them to wash her daily and once a week they shower her, so I agree the uniform seems to help. We used to grab her dirty clothes while the carer was washing her, now she is not aware so we don’t have that problem.
 

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