1. Q&A: Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) - Thursday 27 Sept, 3-4pm

    Power of attorney (LPA) is a legal tool that gives another adult - often a carer or family member - the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of someone with dementia, if they become unable to themselves.

    Our next expert Q&A will be hosted by Flora and Helen from our Knowledge Services team. They will be answering your questions on LPA on Thursday 27 September from 3-4pm.

    You can either post questions >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll answer as many as we can on the day.

Personal Hygiene

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by DCL97*, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. DCL97*

    DCL97* New member

    Sep 13, 2018
    6
    Hi Everyone,

    I am new to this forum and was hoping to get some advice and tips and talk to people who are going though/have gone through the same thing. We think that my Mum has the onset of Dementia. She had to go to the GP over a fall she had and I thought that was my opportunity to get her assessed about her memory, she had been so adamant that she was not going before because 'there is nothing wrong with me'. She has been to the doctors who gave her a memory test and wanted her to attend a memory clinic which she refused to go and we have heard nothing from the GP since and she will not go back.

    My current worry is her personal hygiene, we have brought her incontinence pants when she had her fall as she did wet the bed, however this has stopped but the smell of urine is becoming unbearable, she refuses to get a shower, the excuses are that she hasn't got time, she will get one before bed, she doesn't want to get her hair wet (I have brought her a shower cap) etc and it never happens. she says she is wearing the pants but I honestly don't know if she is, I have tried broaching the subject but I haven't actually said anything about the odour, I really don't know how to broach it. I do little things like buy a deodorant and spray it on me, then on her saying how lovely the smell is..........I just feel helpless, she kicks off and gets stressed out when I mention certain things and I don't want to upset her so I just leave it. I do not live there but do go down most days after work, she has stopped cooking and shopping (she only very rarely goes out with my Dad in the car to shop) but then she gets tired because of this pain she has which is from a fall she had 4 months ago, she is in pain and refuses to go to the doctors/hospital. It's so hard to try and help when she is so stubborn. I think she is frightened in case they admit her to hospital. At the moment it is the hygiene issue. I would be grateful for any advice and I do apologise for this lengthy first post. x
     
  2. karaokePete

    karaokePete Volunteer Host

    Jul 23, 2017
    2,692
    Male
    N Ireland
    Hello @DCL97*, welcome to the forum.

    I haven't had to deal with this problem yet and so my only advice was going to be to arrange a needs assessment for your Mum. There is a Factsheet about this which you can reach by clicking this link https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/sites...assessment_for_care_in_support_in_england.pdf

    I hope you don't mind the fact that I am going to ask to have your post moved because of the specific question you ask so that it stands a better chance of replies.
     
  3. Azay28

    Azay28 Registered User

    Nov 21, 2015
    87
    Hello @DCL97* welcome to TP. It's a great place to find the support and help you may need. I'm sure others will offer advice. I found that Mum would say similar things about she'd do it later but of course never did. She doesnt have the smell issue as such but I find with some careful cajoling even when she says "no i dont want to" I can get her to the shower. I actually do it on the days she takes a particular tablet and has to wait an hour to eat breakfast. I go to her flat early enough so shes not dressed and suggest she stays in her gown then chat for about 20 mins then go prepare bathroom and come back to her and say right were doing the shower now. I touch her hand and speak firmly and say I'm here to help (lives alone though as widow) and most times persuade her. I wait by shower curtain giving instructions/chatting and then when she sits in shower chair I step in and do her hair. Hope this helps somewhat. Take care. Azay x
     
  4. Sunniegirl15

    Sunniegirl15 New member

    Aug 7, 2018
    9
    Sadly if you look through the posts here personal hygiene is a common problem. I have similar issues. Mum will not consent to a bath daily but we have reached a compromise where she has one every 2 or 3 days. It helps but it is not enough as she is in denial about incontinence. She says she only has a problem at night and will not wear pads during the day. She will sometimes wear a sanitary pad but of course that is no use at all. At night she wears Tena pants and puts a sanitary pad in them and also has a towel under her (as well as a waterproof pad on mattress). Its not enough. Often find wet towel which she then leaves on floor or puts on clean washing. She leaves dirty trousers on clean washing as well and has hidden pants around the house before. Its a never ending battle. I buy her daytime pads and tell her that she needs to wear them. She gets angry about me turning against her and tells me I DO NOT SMELL. I AM A CLEAN PERSON. If only that were true.
     
  5. Bunpoots

    Bunpoots Registered User

    Apr 1, 2016
    1,772
    Nottinghamshire
    I seldom managed to persuade my dad to wash and as his incontinence got worse it became a constant worry. Sometimes turning on the shower would work as I presented it as a done deal that he'd decided he wanted a shower.
    But the only solution which really worked was to get carers in every morning to make sure he washed and had breakfast with a couple of times a week a longer visit so he could have a proper shower and a shave.

    I hope you find a solution as trying to keep dad clean and odour free nearly broke me before I got the care agency involved!
     
  6. Sunniegirl15

    Sunniegirl15 New member

    Aug 7, 2018
    9
    Mum gets up and dressed most days before her carer gets there so she can avoid having a bath.
    One comment in the book said that Mum had reported that she was quite capable of getting
    herself washed and dressed! If Mum tells the carer she doesn't want any help then they have to respect her decision whether its right or wrong. I've also been told by mum how degrading it is to have a carer. Funny, I thought that wearing damp clothes and smelling of wee would be more degrading but then I don't have dementia.
     
  7. rose1152

    rose1152 Registered User

    Apr 2, 2018
    11
    Hi @DCL97*

    I’m fairly new here too! Hi!!

    We’re starting to struggle with this now too, not so much the showering/bathing but with getting dressed into old cloths and pants from the day before. She will take her cloths off and place them on a chair and then wake up the next day and put the exact same cloths back on. When we ask her to change she gets very defensive and even more so when we try to talk about clean underwear.

    We try and keep on top of it when she is getting undressed/dressed but it is so stressful. We don’t have carers yet and I’m hoping this will make it easier when the time comes. Is your mom very aware of the fact that she has a career? Do they provide much relief? It’s interesting to hear how point of view about having support.
     
  8. DCL97*

    DCL97* New member

    Sep 13, 2018
    6
    Hi Azay, thank you for the advice. My Mum lives with my Dad but she is so private that there is no way she would shower with him there, when I do mention it she shouts and walks out of the area, I am calm and do not raise my voice so I wait and mention it again when she is calm, she says that she will get one later but never does. I think the more I push the more she backs off and becomes more stubborn. It is a glass screen so I think she does feel exposed as she is so thin but I think that putting a shower curtain up may help, so thank you! x
     
  9. DCL97*

    DCL97* New member

    Sep 13, 2018
    6
    Hi Sunniegirl, I can actually relate to all of that. I am constantly buying her incontinence pants and say do you need anymore Mum, i'll pick some up but she lies and says she doesn't so I just get her some anyway. I think the problem is, the odour is fine in the morning but as the day progresses I don't think she changes them, then the urine will leak through to her trousers then she will wear the same trousers for 3 days on the run and that is when the odour becomes unbearable. x
     
  10. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    4,696
    Female
    Scotland
    One of my regrets about my beloved mother is that I was not more insistent about her showering or bathing. She was incontinent and would use every excuse in the book not to have a bath. I did not like hurting her feelings but I couldn't stand the smell of urine so could not wait to get out of her house. I should have been a lot more ruthless and visitors would have stayed longer. Her house and her washing and bedding were always clean because we could control that but we could not control her person.

    I would be brutally honest and say "You smell and it is horrible". "Let me help you".
     
  11. Midow

    Midow Registered User

    Jun 13, 2017
    25
    Wales
    One of the things I say to my husband when he's reluctant to shower, is that so and so is visiting us later. You want to be clean and fresh, don't you? This seems to work most of the time.
     
  12. DCL97*

    DCL97* New member

    Sep 13, 2018
    6
    Hi, There is no way Mum would have carers, my Dad is there but she will not allow him to take her in the shower/wash her as it is a 'personal' thing. I think I may spend a few nights there and try and coax her to get one. It is an on-going battle. Take care.
     
  13. DCL97*

    DCL97* New member

    Sep 13, 2018
    6
    I think it's the fear of being so exposed in the shower as she is so thin. I think maybe putting a shower curtain up over the glass door may help. I will try that though, thank you!
     
  14. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    15,569
    Toronto, Canada
    When my mother went through her smelly phase, I more than once told her she stunk. She once came out of the toilet naked with her pants around her knees, saying in a puzzled voice "It smells". My cue for some long overdue washing.

    I really empathize - this is a very, very difficult stage. My mother was incredibly fastidious when she was well, so much so that it was a dreadful shock that her hygiene was one of the first things to go.
     
  15. Cazzita

    Cazzita Registered User

    May 12, 2018
    238
    Gosh I can relate to some of this only too well. My mum also takes her clothes off, leaves them on her chair (even though the washing basket is right next to the chair) and then put them on again the next day! Thankfully, she LOVES her bath and I've just arranged for a walk-in bath for when her mobility declines. She hates showers anyway so a wetroom seemed pointless. Mum wears Tena lady pants all day and night and is mainly okay for now. But I reckon this won't last long...
    Also, when she does smell from dirty clothes or keeping Tena pants on too long, I do gently let her know that she does smell and so far, she is okay about acting on that and changing. What a horrible illness that it takes dignity away from some people :(
     
  16. DCL97*

    DCL97* New member

    Sep 13, 2018
    6
    Hi she is not that bad at the moment where she will do that bit I do not think she is wiping properly as when I go loo after her there is urine on the floor. I think maybe you are right I need to be cruel to be kind and come right out and say that she smells. Thank you for your kind words x
    Hi there, can I ask how do you gently tell your mum that she smells ? This is what I'm finding difficult, the right words.
     
  17. Cazzita

    Cazzita Registered User

    May 12, 2018
    238

    Hello @DCL97* it is a difficult one I know but all I have said to mum is - very gently as I think the tone of what you say is impotant, rather than the actual words - "Mum, I think you might have forgotten to brush your teeth this morning so before we go out, go up and brush them," and she does.
    Regarding the urine smell, the same kind of talk, "Mum, I think you might have forgotten to: put clean trousers on today/change your Tena pants/etc and you smell just a little bit and we don't want that do we?" and of course she replies, "No, I don't want that!" and she complies and gets washed/changed etc
    All said in a kind tone so not a telling off or making her feel too awkward.
    Good luck. Now I must go upstairs and make sur she doesn't put on yesterday's trousers! :)
     
  18. Fullticket

    Fullticket Registered User

    Apr 19, 2016
    364
    Chard, Somerset
    Sadly it becomes all about subterfuge. We got carers in for mum in the mornings on a "government scheme where learner carers come in and help people while they are studying for their NVQs - and it costs nothing." Obviously these were highly skilled people with knowledge of dementia and went along with the ruse, asking mum for help with understanding all sorts of issues and she felt quite superior answering their questions. After a week or so it became routine and so she did not fight against them. Their knowledge of looking after dementia patients really carried us through. For instance, as the carer turned into our road she would ring and that was my cue to take mum a cup of tea. Tea made her want to wee so the carer would take her to the loo, put her clean clothes on the radiator and announce that as she was there and her clothes were ready it would be good to wash/shower now. A few hissy fits but after a week or so it worked a treat - two showers a week, clean clothes every day and no more smell!
     
  19. Dpop

    Dpop Registered User

    Jul 13, 2016
    4
    Hi .. it’s a relief to hear I’m not the only one going through this . My mum is adamant she has washed and will argue the fact and get very angry and state that she’s leaving because she is sick of people going on .. she believes there is nothing wrong with her and she is annoyed we thing she is crazy .. her words .. she wears the same clothes . Doesn’t brush her hair ..I know she isn’t washing .. I’ve tried little white lies ,, being blunt and saying she smells .. I recently said let’s go for coffee tomorrow so have a shower and wash your hair .. she rang me and said she wasn’t going. She refuses all help because there’s nothing wrong with her and she can manage her self. The struggle goes on . My dad also has vascular dementia but he is ok with activities like hygiene, dressing etc he has communication problems and becomes fixated on things and can’t stop until it’s sorted or he finishes what he’s trying to say even if it’s not relevant or makes sense .. it’s sad really .. good luck everyone xxxx
     
  20. Cazzita

    Cazzita Registered User

    May 12, 2018
    238
    Good luck to you too @Dpop, none of this is easy at all. You can only try things and what works this week might not work next week. All very trying for all concerned xx
     

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