Personal hygiene and changing clothes. Any ideas please?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by smudgedog, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. smudgedog

    smudgedog Registered User

    Oct 31, 2012
    Hello everyone,

    My mum has alzheimers and was diagnosed about 2 years ago although we believe it started before this. She has always been a lady who likes to be well dressed and she has always taken pride in her personal hygiene and appearance. Things are becoming more difficult though as she is not washing (she probably doesn't even think of doing so) but my dad finds its very hard to get her to wash or change her clothes as she doesn't want to take her clothes off (this may be due to the fact that she sees people in the house and doesn't want to be naked in front of them). When my dad tries to give her a shower or change her clothes all hell breaks loose.

    Does anyone have any advice please?

    Many thanks
  2. Angela T

    Angela T Registered User

    Jul 13, 2014
    My mother was the same - she went from being impeccably smart to being unkempt, wearing stained clothes, the same things day after day, and refusing baths or hair being washed.

    Now she is in a nursing home, she is washed and dressed in clean clothes - but I don't know how you get someone with dementia to wash at home if they don't want to.

    Hopefully someone else will come along with some ideas, since this resistance seems to be part of the illness.
  3. Pottingshed50

    Pottingshed50 Registered User

    Apr 8, 2012
    I do believe that this is very much part of one of the stages of Alzheimers. They go through a stage of not wanting to be touched. My Mum is at this stage as well as is in a residential care home. A very difficult time it must be for your poor Dad. He is trying to do his best and Mum probably in her mind just thinks he is being a nusiance, all this washing nonsense in her mind that is.

    Do they have Carers come in? A carer may be able to persuade Mum to shower etc but even then you cannot force anyone to wash. I do feel for you and someone will come up with an idea of what to do.
  4. Kate and jack

    Kate and jack Registered User

    Smudge dog

    Not a pleasant stage,my dad and I care for my mum,she is passed this stage now,but remember the battle we had,very clearly
    We got to the point ,where we felt it didn't matter in the bigger picture of it all
    We thought as long as mum is calm ,fed,watered and feels happy and secure,that's all that was important, as to making sure she was clean.sounds disgraceful I know
    What we did was on the days when she was more playable was the moment when we would give her a quick bird bath! And change clothes. It's not worth the upset,stress and agony to her or you and dad ....hang in there the stage will pass
  5. Bernadette2

    Bernadette2 Registered User

    Mar 13, 2015
    Hello Smudge Dog
    Would your Mum let someone else help her wash - maybe she finds it hard to let her husband do that? Or, a dementia counsellor once told me a trick where you give the person an unavoidable cue like "that's the shower running now - ready to get in?"
    I try and give mum a bath or shower once a week, but she is willing. Don't think she would like Dad to do it. She also has a hairdresser come to the house once a week who washes and sets her hair which is a treat for her and another way of painlessly getting her hair cleaned. I don't know how mobile your mum is but also, we sometimes take our kids swimming on the weekend and, when I feel up to it, we take mum too - my husband takes the kids into change with him and I take mum. Once again it's a great chance to get her in the nice big enough for two tricky - best of luck
  6. alwaysfretting

    alwaysfretting Registered User

    Jan 1, 2015
    It's very hard and my mum is the same, having previously been fastidious. She now accepts the carer showering her twice a week and we put out what we want her to wear. She has a hairdresser come to the house. I agree it's part of the condition. I believe washing is important to avoid utis and the carer has picked up on pressure sores. Mum is happy to be hugged so that isn't the problem. She is scared of falling in bath and shower and has a lack of perception of things like stains on clothes.
  7. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    #7 Lindy50, Mar 17, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2015
    This is the view I've taken, for what it's worth. I know for a fact that mum never has a shower or bath, as the electric shower seat no longer works....but its presence enables the world at large to believe she does :eek: She also doesn't clean her teeth lately, I can tell by the lack of use of toothpaste etc....I'm always monitoring one thing or another.

    Mum has episodes of incontinence and for that I have got 'No Rinse' wipes in a pack. I carry them with a 'changing bag' in the car and always have it with me when I see mum. She's never enquired as to the bag's contents, though we use them often. I did try leaving a pack of wipes with her in the flat but she just cut the end of the pack open and they all dried out.....she doesn't seem to have any idea what they are and so doesn't object.

    Clothes are another issue. I pick a 'good' day to mention laundry and persuade her to change her clothes.

    I find it difficult too....mum would be horrified by the way she is, but it's all I can do to cut her nails, set her hair and clean up!!

    All the best

    Lindy xx
  8. Bod

    Bod Registered User

    Aug 30, 2013
    Did she have a "bath night" as a kid?
    Sometimes a "nurse" in a uniform coming to help on bath night might do the trick.
    Remember a bath/shower doesn't have to be at the beginning or end of a day, if she's more compliant at midday, go for it then!

  9. smudgedog

    smudgedog Registered User

    Oct 31, 2012
    Thank you all very much for your comments and advice. It is lovely to hear from people in the same situation and just makes a horrible situation that little bit easier.

    Mum doesn't have carers come in as we had problems with a lady that came in (when we started trying the carer side of things) and now much doesn't trust anyone and will not let any in like that. I myself suffer from M.E and am going through a bad time at the moment which is very hard because I used to help mum and dad a lot and now, when they really need me, I am unable to do much to help them. I would usually give my mum a shower or wash in these circumstances but due to being unwell I can't. My sister is very good though so I will suggest to her that maybe she could try to do it once a week. It may help a bit.

    Thank you all again and I send my good wishes to you all xx
  10. ASH74

    ASH74 Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    Just to say big hugs is a horrible situation. With my FIL he won't accept my hubby (his son) helping him but he will accept me. I think I am just that little bit more detached. Also the district nurse told him he had to wash twice a week at least which he accepted.

    Regarding the clothes, we have gone for identical sets including washable slippers as FIL is very attached to his clothes.

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  11. Pottingshed50

    Pottingshed50 Registered User

    Apr 8, 2012
    Regarding the clothes, we have gone for identical sets including washable slippers as FIL is very attached to his clothes.

    Now that is a very good idea.
  12. Lisa74

    Lisa74 Registered User

    May 27, 2011
    I wonder if having a carer in every few days to give her a shower might be an idea? Obviously daily or twice daily showers are ideal but with dementia that is almost impossible.

    My Mum showers my Gran (dementia sufferer) a few times a week and after accidents and she does have a really difficult time with it too.

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