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Mum says things feel heavy and the towels and linens are too big...

Amy in the US

Registered User
Feb 28, 2015
Hi, all.

I did try a search but it was difficult to find the right search terms.

I saw my mother last Tuesday, and she said that the sheets on her bed were "too heavy," that the comforter was also "heavy," and that the sheets and the comforter (do you say eiderdown?) were much much too large for the bed.

At first I thought she meant she was too warm in the night, that her covers were making her physically overheat. But as I talked with her, I began to have the feeling that she was trying to convey to me that there was some sort of tactile problem, that the sheets didn't feel right in some way against her skin. However, the only adjective she seemed able to access was "heavy."

This afternoon, my mother called and told my husband the same thing about her bath towels. Well, first of all, she did not recognize the towels, and I understand that--they are about six months old, purchased when my mother moved into the care home, and while I tried to get ones that looked like her old towels, I wasn't able to find any, so bought her plain towels in her favorite color blue. Her old towels were not able to be salvaged, unfortunately.

But my mother told my husband a long story about how the towels are "too heavy" and also that they are "too big" and she can't possibly use them because they are so big and heavy she just can't lift them. I bought her the smallest bath towels I could find, but they are larger, dimensionally, than her old ones, because the old ones were 40-60 years old and had shrunk in the wash over the decades to something the size of tea towels, or maybe started out that way. They were full of holes and...not hygienic. Anyway.

She said the same thing to me about the comforter last week, which was on the floor: that it was so incredibly heavy, heavier than any blanket she'd ever felt, heavier than lead, pick it up, see how heavy it is, she couldn't possibly put that on her bed, because it's so heavy, see?

If anyone has any idea what my mother might be trying to convey, or what I might do, or what on earth might be going on, I would be grateful. Or maybe you have no idea, but you've heard something like this before. Or maybe you haven't, but you can make sympathetic noises at me. I'd settle for that. I've been crying off and on all evening and feeling generally low.

I'll stop whinging now and go look on the Internet some more for smaller towels that are lighter!

Thank you.


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Thickness maybe? Particularly as regard the towels? Older towels become thinner and more flexible - perhaps it's not the size or even the weight but they don't "wrap" as she feels they should.

As for the duvet - perhaps a smoother cover? But I'm really coming up empty. I think in your place I'd go with your instinct and try things that feel different: smoother, cooler etc.


Registered User
Jan 14, 2010
East Kent
Hi. Sounds like you could do with a real one of these

I often used to wish I could read my Mums mind, so I knew what she needed or was saying.

I'm thinking that your Mum might actually be saying what she find wrong with those items. Possibly she has become a bit weaker
Here in the UK we have several sizes of towels , from tiny guest towel (smaller than a tea towel) right up to bath sheets ( gigantic). I have found that the cheaper ones are thinner and lighter
Personally I don't like big towels and only ever use hand towels, I also dislike weight on me so heavy duvets are out, I only ever use summer weight ones around 4 tog , I don't know if you can get lighter weight comforters in the U S , maybe a smaller one ?

Not sure what u can do about sheets.

Sorry not much help
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Grace L

Registered User
Jun 14, 2014
Good Morning (or is it evening Amy?) ,

I had these comments from my husband (I'm a widow now). He had EO VaD.

He did not like our lovely large towels, and once I found the right kind, I could not substitute ....
He liked lighter (colour and weight) towels, but he would still 'fuss' quite a lot, and needed encouragement to dry (and wash) himself.

But MiL..... with Alz .... OMGoodness, I have those same comments...

The duvet, no matter which one (summer weight, mid weight or winter weight) is never right.
She's yelled out for help in the night as she (I), have deliberately trapped her in the bed with such a heavy duvet, and she cannot move !!
I do / did have a large duvet on the bed, as I like the way it looks/ drapes ....
So now I have a smaller duvet , just for MiL..... which sometimes helps....

I use a duvet cover with a top-sheet , my cotton sheets were also too heavy for her...
We went shopping together, and she found a couple of bedding sets she liked,
these are much thinner (and poor quality) , but MiL seems to like them.

MiL and towels..... nothing is right, I've tried so many times, but nothing is right.
Too big, too small, too fluffy, too scratchy, too dark, edging not right, too thick, too thin....
I have not found a solution for this.... tried and failed.
Tried taking MiL shopping for towels, she couldn't find any she liked.

MiL self cares, so all I hear from the bathroom is lots of huffing and puffing and complaining....

This problem seems 'normal'.... I'm hoping its a phase that will pass.


Registered User
Apr 13, 2015
Hi Amy

Would it be worth looking at a duvet or towel set that has been marketed for children? Perhaps the size/weight would come up different?

Julia B

Registered User
Apr 13, 2015
Just a thought, I've got some of my granny's towels that must be at least 30 years old, they are very much different in texture and style ( they are very boho now lol )so perhaps some from charity shops might be familiar? I've had to get creative too for MiL and her confusion so good luck!


Registered User
Apr 5, 2010
Mum used to say the sheets and duvet were too heavy. I used cotton covers but she wanted a poly cotton mix and a cheap lightweight duvet inside. She then started on the mugs being too heavy so those had to be fine bone china. Towels had to have a short/close pile to them and be a small bath towel not bath sheet.


Registered User
May 9, 2012
south-east London
Hi Amy,

My husband also used to talk about covers and towels being too heavy.

The problem with the cover seemed to be that during the night he would get his feet tangled in the duvet cover. During the warmer months I now use two lightweight sleeping bags zipped together so they form a double ultra-light duvet, which seems to do the trick. Winter can be a bit hit and miss though. I use a light duvet but there are nights when he still gets tangled in the duvet cover itself, and says they are too heavy.

Re the towels, it became apparent in the last couple of months that he was struggling with the large bath towels, which he also described as too heavy and awkward. He has never been one to wrap a bath towel around him, he just wants to dry himself quickly, on the spot - so now I just leave out a medium sized towel or a small hand towel when he is having a shower and he is much happier. I also have a mix of thin and thick towels - and he much prefers the thin ones.
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Grace L

Registered User
Jun 14, 2014
Afternoon All.....

I got MiL a cheap (her choice) single duvet to use on a double bed , and she picked out her bedding
on another one of our MiL shopping trips.

I still use the fitted bottom sheet, but she does not use a sheet with a duvet.

I think this may have been confusing her, as she was getting tied up in the top sheet and the bigger duvet (even though it looks nice) .... was too much for her.

Only me....
I've posted before about MiL complaining about my heavy cups, plates etc....
Even though she does not have to lift the dinner plate, as I bring it to the table....
lots of moaning and sighing about why I have to have such heavy plates, cups, glasses....
and at times refusing to eat until I find her a different plate.
Then the colour were not right.....

Another shopping trip we eventually found suitable plates, cups, mugs.... just for her.

I wonder what it is about 'heavy' things, it seems a common symptom.


Registered User
Jan 29, 2009
I wonder if it's as much the effort needed as the actual weight? Mum was much the same with bedding and it was as though it just needed too much oomph and connected thought to get them off or pushed back if needed. Similarly bedding couldn't be tucked in very far up the bed so it often slid off. Clothes had to be simple to get on and off and she couldn't tolerate anything but the very loosest of tops being taken off over her head.
The same as Grace's MiL with cutlery and crockery. Even much loved mugs were "just too much" and eventually I bought her picnic plates, light cheap cutlery and plastic beakers. Even without actually picking them up, Mum would complain about the weight as though it was just one more thing to deal with and she just couldn't. One advantage of the picnic plates was the bright colour which helped Mum as she had separate pre existing visual problems as well as the visual disturbances from dementia.
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Amy in the US

Registered User
Feb 28, 2015
thank you all so very much!

Oh my goodness, I never expected such a response, and so quickly. I suppose that's one good thing about the time difference; I posted late last night my time, and am checking this late morning my time, but you were all here before me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Even if I can't fix anything, or indeed find sheets and towels she likes, at least I know I'm not alone, it's not unheard of, and have gotten lots of good suggestions and tips here.

I haven't time at the moment to respond to everything (I've just had an INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING conversation with the insurance agent, about the homeowners' insurance; the same conversation we've been having over and over for months AARRRRGHHHHHHHHH; sorry) but think you are all spot on, and now I know how to think about this.

Last night I couldn't think about it, and today I can, and have ideas, so that's much, much, much better.

I was beating myself up for having binned all her old towels from her home, but my husband told me to cut that out because they were so old and threadbare they would have dissolved in the laundry (I fear she hadn't washed them for a long time).

When I bought her new ones, I did buy the smallest bath towels I could find, but they were still bigger than her old ones, and more plush. Now I know to try thinner and less soft. Come to think of it, her "favourite" old towels were thin, small, and a bit scratchy. Instead of the nice linens store, I'll have a look at Wal-Mart (is that ASDA to you?) or someplace else.

How silly of me to want her to have something nice to use. This disease makes fools of us all.

Back to the wretched, horrible, vile paperwork. Thank you all again so much for your support and advice. It means a great deal.

Sue J

Registered User
Dec 9, 2009
Hi Amy

I fully understand. The physical weakness that comes with this disease is hard to imagine. Most of the time I have little physical strength, I used to be fairly strong, no longer:( I changed all my towels to smaller, lighter ones, through necessity at the start of my symptoms, I also had my taps changed to push taps for the same reason. I have just bought some new towels and bought light micro-fibre, quick drying ones which are soft and cosy but light. I use the thinnest of flannels for the same reason. Scratchy ones I think and find are sometimes good as it does stimulate the skin circulation on days when its not so sensitive to touch.

My older friend who has dementia, often hands me things and says things like 'you can't lift that, wear that, feel it its far too heavy' which makes me realise how weak she has become. The same is true of shoes, they have to be as light, but supportive, as possible. I know what she means, as I experience the same, that you feel every stone you step on, despite having shoes on.

Micro-fibre blankets are good as they are very light yet can warm you up very quickly.
Small micro-fibre towel head turbans are good when hair-washing too as they are a quarter of the size of a small towel which helps when the neck is very weak.

I too, as Celia describes have a variety of crockery, depending on good or bad day depends which cup or glass I am comfortable using. Clothing too, lightweight and easy dress layers, to accommodate the constant change in body temp. Flipping nuisance!

I agree with your husband you shouldn't reproach yourself in anyway, you are doing your best to do your best for your Mother and finding out about it too, what more can you do?:)

Best to you


Registered User
Dec 11, 2013
What a fascinating thread, and so good, Sue, to have the benefit of your experience (though I cannot help but wish you didn't have it....)

I too have tried to surround my mum with 'good' things, which for her were of little benefit. Mainly lovely thick fluffy towels, in my case, when I was trying to encourage her bathing....I know now that they might only have had the opposite effect!

In mum's case, there is an element of generalised weakness also, but I had never quite realised what a challenge the physical world is for her, as a direct result of her condition, until very recently.

Thanks for posting about this, Amy :) xx

Grace L

Registered User
Jun 14, 2014
Thanks Sue for your personal experience.

My husband had VaD (TiAs) ... and from the beginning of his big stroke was hypersensitive.

This sensitivity did not help with his recovery ... hands on physio was very difficult for him.
Medication helped a little, but not all the time, and the Docs were reluctant to give it.

He used to complain about most of his clothes being too scratchy, clothes he once loved....

If I touched him, for example on his arm (he had slightly hairy arms) he said it felt terrible...
and sent pain signals shooting up his arm, and said it felt like a creeping sensation.
He sometimes re-coiled at being touched, and became distressed.

MiL (Alz) does not appear (yet) to have a problem with clothes sensitivity.
I wonder if this is because she has Alz.... and has not had a stroke....

But she does have problem with heavy things , and keeping her content is becoming more difficult.

I cant do what she wants, this is my home, not hers, and she does not live with me.
She hates my lounge curtains , they are too heavy, and says if she could she would rip them off the wall.
MiL does no have to touch the curtains, but she still hates them.

I've yet to find her a pillow she likes, and I've tried at least 4 new so far.
She does not like my pillows, so I/we searched for one she thought suitable.
She wont leave me one of her pillows here, for her personal use either.

Lindy, I too thought soft fluffy towels would be a good thing.
At least I tried, and know where I went wrong.

Thanks TP , its good to share and learn form each other.


Registered User
Jan 14, 2015
Fife Scotland
How silly of me to want her to have something nice to use. This disease makes fools of us all..
Hi Amy, yes been through the "heavy stuff" I bought smaller towels and the 4 tog duvet, and don't give up on the "having something nice" my mum has been through this, what I now do is dress smart, tops she hasn't seen, trousers/jeans, shoes instead of trainers.........put make up on , jewellery , I took her a nice pink scarf out of poundland £1.00 that would be $1.50, and she loves get her something cheap and cheerful in fact buy yourself the same and see I wear as it is smart.

Been through the you are a "tink" mode no I go through the fashion mode now and it works.......


Registered User
Jan 14, 2015
Fife Scotland

I've yet to find her a pillow she likes, and I've tried at least 4 new so far.
She does not like my pillows, so I/we searched for one she thought suitable.
She wont leave me one of her pillows here, for her personal use either.
I get mater Asda/George pillows the 2 pillows for £3.00 and she likes cheap and can be thrown away every 6months or so.

Do this with OH as he drools.