Laundry issues!

SeeU

New member
May 4, 2019
3
Hi folks, I’m new to this forum but am so glad I found you all. My husband and I are caring for his mother who is in the early stages of dementia. She currently lives independently in sheltered housing and is so far coping reasonably well with our support and some additional support available in the complex she lives in. As she has forgotten how to use her washing machine, I currently do her laundry. My problem however is that she refuses point blank to let me wash her underwear, and insists on doing that for herself. Which would be fine, except that as her eyesight is failing I have come across some rather nasty looking pants etc. If she was my mother, I feel I would be able to persuade her to let me wash everything however somehow being a DIL is different. Anyone else have this problem and any ideas how I can get round this. Also she seems unaware that her clothes need regular washing, for instance we were recently o holiday for a week and her weeks washing consisted of 2 towels,1 vest and one pair of trousers. I’ve tried going through her wardrobe and drawers to look for things that need washed but she gets defensive and I have to stop looking as I don’t wish to upset her or encroach on her privacy. Any ideas?
 

Shedrech

Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
8,498
Yorkshire
hello @SeeU and welcome
I just got sneaky with my dad, spirited away anything I thought needed washing and didn't discuss it with him .. I made quite a few long 'visits to the loo' when he was settled in his armchair so couldn't see or hear what I was doing, and went back into the living room with a coffee so it wasn't obvious where I had been

I also put a laundry basket in his bedroom, where he saw it when getting ready for bed, with a note to put worn clothes in it (so I could take them out first thing) and clean clothes on a chair in the order he was to put them on.... generally worked, for a time

I appreciate it feels more awakward stepping in for an in-law, though
 

Sirena

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
2,063
I can understand how difficult it is as it's your MIL. Could you buy some new underwear and put it away wherever her undies live, so she then uses them without realising they are new? Of course that will depend upon her actually changing her undies at all. I suspect that is the main problem - not that she doesn't wash them, but that she rarely changes them.
 

Andrew_McP

Registered User
Mar 2, 2016
240
South Northwest
I don't care for an in-law, but as a man caring for his mother this was the first huge taboo hurdle I had to face. These days I wouldn't know a taboo if it danced out of the airing cupboard wearing a top hat and doing jazz hands; we're all just bags of flesh and bone, and dementia doesn't care about our social airs and graces. So that side of life has been shelved... hopefully in the same way that professional carers and nurses manage it, not in the way Norman Bates managed it!

I do worry sometimes though. :confused:

Anyway, I realised that if I didn't deal with Mum's hygiene issues -- no matter how potentially awkward or disruptive -- nobody else was going to, and Mum was the only one who'd suffer. She was starting to get a lot of UTIs and that couldn't go on. So I became an expert at scouting round her home for underwear and replacing it with new/fresh pairs. I used to worry that it had to match exactly, but Mum couldn't really tell the difference. I'm not going to say it was easy or without problems, and i didn't have anyone else I could call in to distract Mum while I was searching, but it's surprising what you can get good at if you have to.

Or maybe I'm just a borderline psychopath... dementia makes you examine yourself just as much as the people we care for! I guess the time to start worrying is when you stop examining yourself, but by then it's too late! However this weirdo self-analysis isn't what you came here for, is it? :)

To be a bit more helpful, you could try doing what I did initially... I just bought a ridiculous number of pairs of pants and left them where Mum would find and hopefully use them. On a statistical basis, the more pants there were in the house, the more likely she was to find a clean pair when required.

Of course the main problem was soon that she wasn't changing her underwear at all, no matter what state they were in. That was when I really had to take a deep breath (no an ideal phrase under the circumstances) and get even more involved than I ever thought I'd have to be in anyone's life, let alone my mother's. But needs must.

The only good news I can give you is that the more our barriers got broken down, the healthier my mother became and she hasn't had a UTI for over 18 months since we became, er... bathroom buddies. Dementia take you to some strange places (personally, I'd have preferred the Lake District). But on the bright side, I can now sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm while wielding a wet wipe, which is a skill I never thought I'd have. I fully expect to be rewarded with an OBweE for services to light entertainment before my days are done.

In the mean time I'll settle for occasionally posting shameless waffle like this in the hope that it's useful for others starting on the same slippery slope... if only to emphasise how important it is to get carers involved ASAP to help with the awkward parts of this journey. I was just never good at asking for help... a bad habit I got from my mother, and a very bad habit indeed for a carer! But as bad habits go, it's probably better than picking your nose.

Good luck with your MIL.


PS OK, so I pick my nose too.
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
11,342
South coast
Oh, @Andrew_McP I know this is a serious subject, but I found myself laughing at your post, probably more than I aught to have done :oops:
I hope I can emulate your stoicism when the time comes.
Thank you
 

Normaleila

Registered User
Jun 4, 2016
721
Hi Andrew_McP. You're doing a great job as a carer. And you've certainly entertained me - you write so well and so vividly. Perhaps I'll nominate you for that OBE.
 

Moggymad

Registered User
May 12, 2017
458
We used to sing when doing personal care with mum. She used to burst into the song ' Underneath the Arches' when doing her private area!
On a serious note I did the same as others seeking out soiled, supposedly washed, clothes from wherever I could find them. When she did change her underwear she always picked the old knickers in favour of the new so I had to replace them. They also started to disappear so I think she used to throw them away rather than try to wash them ( in washing up liquid!) Anything put in the washing machine was removed by my mum & put away before being washed so unless the machine was put on straight away that didn't work. Even then she would switch the machine off half way through.
Try getting her settled with a cuppa & chat with hubbie as a distraction then look through her cupboards & wardrobe for anything that needs washing. Put in a bin bag outside so she doesn't see it.
 

SeeU

New member
May 4, 2019
3
I don't care for an in-law, but as a man caring for his mother this was the first huge taboo hurdle I had to face. These days I wouldn't know a taboo if it danced out of the airing cupboard wearing a top hat and doing jazz hands; we're all just bags of flesh and bone, and dementia doesn't care about our social airs and graces. So that side of life has been shelved... hopefully in the same way that professional carers and nurses manage it, not in the way Norman Bates managed it!

I do worry sometimes though. :confused:

Anyway, I realised that if I didn't deal with Mum's hygiene issues -- no matter how potentially awkward or disruptive -- nobody else was going to, and Mum was the only one who'd suffer. She was starting to get a lot of UTIs and that couldn't go on. So I became an expert at scouting round her home for underwear and replacing it with new/fresh pairs. I used to worry that it had to match exactly, but Mum couldn't really tell the difference. I'm not going to say it was easy or without problems, and i didn't have anyone else I could call in to distract Mum while I was searching, but it's surprising what you can get good at if you have to.

Or maybe I'm just a borderline psychopath... dementia makes you examine yourself just as much as the people we care for! I guess the time to start worrying is when you stop examining yourself, but by then it's too late! However this weirdo self-analysis isn't what you came here for, is it? :)

To be a bit more helpful, you could try doing what I did initially... I just bought a ridiculous number of pairs of pants and left them where Mum would find and hopefully use them. On a statistical basis, the more pants there were in the house, the more likely she was to find a clean pair when required.

Of course the main problem was soon that she wasn't changing her underwear at all, no matter what state they were in. That was when I really had to take a deep breath (no an ideal phrase under the circumstances) and get even more involved than I ever thought I'd have to be in anyone's life, let alone my mother's. But needs must.

The only good news I can give you is that the more our barriers got broken down, the healthier my mother became and she hasn't had a UTI for over 18 months since we became, er... bathroom buddies. Dementia take you to some strange places (personally, I'd have preferred the Lake District). But on the bright side, I can now sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm while wielding a wet wipe, which is a skill I never thought I'd have. I fully expect to be rewarded with an OBweE for services to light entertainment before my days are done.

In the mean time I'll settle for occasionally posting shameless waffle like this in the hope that it's useful for others starting on the same slippery slope... if only to emphasise how important it is to get carers involved ASAP to help with the awkward parts of this journey. I was just never good at asking for help... a bad habit I got from my mother, and a very bad habit indeed for a carer! But as bad habits go, it's probably better than picking your nose.

Good luck with your MIL.


PS OK, so I pick my nose too.
 

SeeU

New member
May 4, 2019
3
Thanks everyone for your ideas. Just back from MIL’s and managed to retrieve some pretty awful stuff for washing. Left her chatting with hubby as suggested, although I did overhear her asking a few times where I was.
I have been heartened by some of the threads on this site and now realise that the best way to deal with this awful illness is with a ton of patience and a barrow load of humour.
 

MaNaAk

Registered User
Jun 19, 2016
1,589
Essex
As Shedrech says your going to have to be sneaky.

MaNaAk

PS: Eventually you will have to start telling love lies as well and I know it will be difficult but you and your husband will have to keep telling yourselves that you are doing your best for her. She is lucky to have such a wonderful daughter-in-law.
 

Andrew_McP

Registered User
Mar 2, 2016
240
South Northwest
' Underneath the Arches'
Right, that's going into our song rotation. :) Old MacDonald became a bathroom 'favourite' because Mum seems to get some twisted pleasure out of repeatedly suggesting outlandish animals for me to mimick, and sometimes if I start singing it'll distract her from being grumpy.

Doesn't always help, but even when things are going really badly, singing helps me stay calm... ok, calmer.

the best way to deal with this awful illness is with a ton of patience and a barrow load of humour.
The old 'if you don't laugh, you'd cry' cliche got to be a cliche for a reason, sadly. Sometimes I swear I laugh and cry at the same time though! Like just now, when Mum started tucking into some sweet & sour chicken. Anything sweet usually goes down fairly well, and I can sneak veg into the sauce. But this time a few mouthfuls went down well, then she poured the rest down the side of her chair to get rid of it. Bless her cotton socks... is not what I muttered. ;-)
 

LadyA

Registered User
Oct 19, 2009
13,562
Ireland
Like just now, when Mum started tucking into some sweet & sour chicken. Anything sweet usually goes down fairly well, and I can sneak veg into the sauce. But this time a few mouthfuls went down well, then she poured the rest down the side of her chair to get rid of it. Bless her cotton socks... is not what I muttered. ;-)
When my husband moved to a nursing home I had to clear out his "office", which was totally crammed with books, papers etc. I found food hidden all over the place - under shelves, in shelves, tucked in between the pages of books...! Very unpleasant, but at least most of it was just toast and chocolates!
 

northumbrian_k

Registered User
Mar 2, 2017
927
Newcastle
I bought my wife several pairs of lovely new knickers especially for her latest respite stay. At least with some staff to encourage/persuade her I thought that she might actually get round to changing them from time to time. I find it difficult to understand how dementia can rob a person of the instinct to change out of underwear that has been worn - and is sometimes soiled - for upwards of 24 hours. But it does. She puts on a nightie for bed but does not undress first. Without my direct intervention every morning my wife would never change her clothes, and especially her knickers. It is always a challenge getting her to undress without putting the same clothes back on if I turn my back for just a moment. Or taking trousers and tops off then donning a coat and hat and saying she is ready. I always say how lovely, feminine etc. the clean knickers look but it makes no difference to her anymore. As for washing, she has pretty much forgotten how to and is resistant to me helping in any way. Very common problems I fear, and with no easy solution except taking it all in one's stride.
 
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Rosettastone57

Registered User
Oct 27, 2016
1,152
I bought my wife several pairs of lovely new knickers especially for her latest respite stay. At least with some staff to encourage/persuade her I thought that she might actually get round to changing them from time to time. I find it difficult to understand how dementia can rob a person of the instinct to change out of underwear that has been worn - and is sometimes soiled - for upwards of 24 hours. But it does. Without my direct intervention every morning my wife would never change her clothes, and especially her knickers. It is always a challenge getting her to undress without putting the same clothes back on if I turn my back for just a moment. Or taking trousers and tops off then donning a coat and hat and saying she is ready. I always say how lovely, feminine etc. the clean knickers look but it makes no difference to her anymore. As for washing, she has pretty much forgotten how to and is resistant to me helping in any way. Very common problems I fear. and with no easy solution except taking it all in one's stride.
As others have said, very common. My mother-in-law lost capacity to use the washing machine and refused to change her clothes. I took over the laundry and left a new laundry bag in the bedroom to try and encourage her to put dirty clothes in it. We got to the stage where only one pair of socks went in a week. We initially got the carers to put on the machine but as soon as they left, mother-in-law would switch it off. So I took any laundry home to do but it created problems with her accusing me of swapping her clothes. I resolved this at first by my photographing the clothes on my phone before they left her and then when they came back, she would ask to see the photos to see if they matched what had been returned. Eventually, she lost the memory of what had been washed anyway, so that idea didn't last long. It was only resolved when she went into care and staff quickly had her cleaned up
 

padmag

Registered User
May 8, 2012
259
nottingham
I don't care for an in-law, but as a man caring for his mother this was the first huge taboo hurdle I had to face. These days I wouldn't know a taboo if it danced out of the airing cupboard wearing a top hat and doing jazz hands; we're all just bags of flesh and bone, and dementia doesn't care about our social airs and graces. So that side of life has been shelved... hopefully in the same way that professional carers and nurses manage it, not in the way Norman Bates managed it!

I do worry sometimes though. :confused:

Anyway, I realised that if I didn't deal with Mum's hygiene issues -- no matter how potentially awkward or disruptive -- nobody else was going to, and Mum was the only one who'd suffer. She was starting to get a lot of UTIs and that couldn't go on. So I became an expert at scouting round her home for underwear and replacing it with new/fresh pairs. I used to worry that it had to match exactly, but Mum couldn't really tell the difference. I'm not going to say it was easy or without problems, and i didn't have anyone else I could call in to distract Mum while I was searching, but it's surprising what you can get good at if you have to.

Or maybe I'm just a borderline psychopath... dementia makes you examine yourself just as much as the people we care for! I guess the time to start worrying is when you stop examining yourself, but by then it's too late! However this weirdo self-analysis isn't what you came here for, is it? :)

To be a bit more helpful, you could try doing what I did initially... I just bought a ridiculous number of pairs of pants and left them where Mum would find and hopefully use them. On a statistical basis, the more pants there were in the house, the more likely she was to find a clean pair when required.

Of course the main problem was soon that she wasn't changing her underwear at all, no matter what state they were in. That was when I really had to take a deep breath (no an ideal phrase under the circumstances) and get even more involved than I ever thought I'd have to be in anyone's life, let alone my mother's. But needs must.

The only good news I can give you is that the more our barriers got broken down, the healthier my mother became and she hasn't had a UTI for over 18 months since we became, er... bathroom buddies. Dementia take you to some strange places (personally, I'd have preferred the Lake District). But on the bright side, I can now sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm while wielding a wet wipe, which is a skill I never thought I'd have. I fully expect to be rewarded with an OBweE for services to light entertainment before my days are done.

In the mean time I'll settle for occasionally posting shameless waffle like this in the hope that it's useful for others starting on the same slippery slope... if only to emphasise how important it is to get carers involved ASAP to help with the awkward parts of this journey. I was just never good at asking for help... a bad habit I got from my mother, and a very bad habit indeed for a carer! But as bad habits go, it's probably better than picking your nose.

Good luck with your MIL.


PS OK, so I pick my nose too.
You have brightened my Sunday morning, just having a cuppa waiting for Richard to wake up, you made me laugh out loud. We sing lots of songs during personal care and he happily sings along. I have often thought if anyone could see us...... when he is in the shower we sing the car wash song, getting him dressed we sing some sort of matador/toreodor song, 'donald where's my tousers' as I am holding his clothes up to show him. Not that it is all easy as I have a lot of persuasion to do these days but the songs definitely help. Think we should enrol as red coats!
 

maryjoan

Registered User
Mar 25, 2017
1,397
South of the Border
I don't care for an in-law, but as a man caring for his mother this was the first huge taboo hurdle I had to face. These days I wouldn't know a taboo if it danced out of the airing cupboard wearing a top hat and doing jazz hands; we're all just bags of flesh and bone, and dementia doesn't care about our social airs and graces. So that side of life has been shelved... hopefully in the same way that professional carers and nurses manage it, not in the way Norman Bates managed it!

I do worry sometimes though. :confused:

Anyway, I realised that if I didn't deal with Mum's hygiene issues -- no matter how potentially awkward or disruptive -- nobody else was going to, and Mum was the only one who'd suffer. She was starting to get a lot of UTIs and that couldn't go on. So I became an expert at scouting round her home for underwear and replacing it with new/fresh pairs. I used to worry that it had to match exactly, but Mum couldn't really tell the difference. I'm not going to say it was easy or without problems, and i didn't have anyone else I could call in to distract Mum while I was searching, but it's surprising what you can get good at if you have to.

Or maybe I'm just a borderline psychopath... dementia makes you examine yourself just as much as the people we care for! I guess the time to start worrying is when you stop examining yourself, but by then it's too late! However this weirdo self-analysis isn't what you came here for, is it? :)

To be a bit more helpful, you could try doing what I did initially... I just bought a ridiculous number of pairs of pants and left them where Mum would find and hopefully use them. On a statistical basis, the more pants there were in the house, the more likely she was to find a clean pair when required.

Of course the main problem was soon that she wasn't changing her underwear at all, no matter what state they were in. That was when I really had to take a deep breath (no an ideal phrase under the circumstances) and get even more involved than I ever thought I'd have to be in anyone's life, let alone my mother's. But needs must.

The only good news I can give you is that the more our barriers got broken down, the healthier my mother became and she hasn't had a UTI for over 18 months since we became, er... bathroom buddies. Dementia take you to some strange places (personally, I'd have preferred the Lake District). But on the bright side, I can now sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm while wielding a wet wipe, which is a skill I never thought I'd have. I fully expect to be rewarded with an OBweE for services to light entertainment before my days are done.

In the mean time I'll settle for occasionally posting shameless waffle like this in the hope that it's useful for others starting on the same slippery slope... if only to emphasise how important it is to get carers involved ASAP to help with the awkward parts of this journey. I was just never good at asking for help... a bad habit I got from my mother, and a very bad habit indeed for a carer! But as bad habits go, it's probably better than picking your nose.

Good luck with your MIL.


PS OK, so I pick my nose too.
This is an hilarious post in an awful situation - please let us have more - start a thread, so we can all find it and have a jolly good laugh - because that is what we need ! Well done you - on every level!!!! EE aye EE aye O!
 

pipd

Registered User
Apr 12, 2015
78
Leigh on Sea Essex
I don't care for an in-law, but as a man caring for his mother this was the first huge taboo hurdle I had to face. These days I wouldn't know a taboo if it danced out of the airing cupboard wearing a top hat and doing jazz hands; we're all just bags of flesh and bone, and dementia doesn't care about our social airs and graces. So that side of life has been shelved... hopefully in the same way that professional carers and nurses manage it, not in the way Norman Bates managed it!

I do worry sometimes though. :confused:

Anyway, I realised that if I didn't deal with Mum's hygiene issues -- no matter how potentially awkward or disruptive -- nobody else was going to, and Mum was the only one who'd suffer. She was starting to get a lot of UTIs and that couldn't go on. So I became an expert at scouting round her home for underwear and replacing it with new/fresh pairs. I used to worry that it had to match exactly, but Mum couldn't really tell the difference. I'm not going to say it was easy or without problems, and i didn't have anyone else I could call in to distract Mum while I was searching, but it's surprising what you can get good at if you have to.

Or maybe I'm just a borderline psychopath... dementia makes you examine yourself just as much as the people we care for! I guess the time to start worrying is when you stop examining yourself, but by then it's too late! However this weirdo self-analysis isn't what you came here for, is it? :)

To be a bit more helpful, you could try doing what I did initially... I just bought a ridiculous number of pairs of pants and left them where Mum would find and hopefully use them. On a statistical basis, the more pants there were in the house, the more likely she was to find a clean pair when required.

Of course the main problem was soon that she wasn't changing her underwear at all, no matter what state they were in. That was when I really had to take a deep breath (no an ideal phrase under the circumstances) and get even more involved than I ever thought I'd have to be in anyone's life, let alone my mother's. But needs must.

The only good news I can give you is that the more our barriers got broken down, the healthier my mother became and she hasn't had a UTI for over 18 months since we became, er... bathroom buddies. Dementia take you to some strange places (personally, I'd have preferred the Lake District). But on the bright side, I can now sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm while wielding a wet wipe, which is a skill I never thought I'd have. I fully expect to be rewarded with an OBweE for services to light entertainment before my days are done.

In the mean time I'll settle for occasionally posting shameless waffle like this in the hope that it's useful for others starting on the same slippery slope... if only to emphasise how important it is to get carers involved ASAP to help with the awkward parts of this journey. I was just never good at asking for help... a bad habit I got from my mother, and a very bad habit indeed for a carer! But as bad habits go, it's probably better than picking your nose.

Good luck with your MIL.


PS OK, so I pick my nose too.
Thank goodness for a sense of humour, this post really had me chuckling, I had to do similar with my mum and just adjust my way of thinking and just get on with it the best I could. I used to find soiled underwear in her coat pockets and on one occasion there was a major exterior drain blockage to deal with which unearthed two pairs of flushed knickers stuck in the sewerage drain. Dementia certainly kept me on my toes.