1. Derwent

    Derwent New member

    Dec 11, 2018
    Hi, I care for my Dad who has vascular dementia. Fortunately he is still able to live alone as my brother and I manage his appointments, shopping etc. A worrying trend is beginning to develop in that we’ve noticed that he hasn’t had a shower, cleaned his teeth or changed his clothes for several days. Any ideas as to how we can help delay this decline in his personal hygiene?
  2. Rosettastone57

    Rosettastone57 Registered User

    Oct 27, 2016
    Unfortunately this is very common. I'm sure others will be along shortly to give you better advice but to give you some idea of the scale of the problem my mother-in-law didn't wash her hair or bath for 5 years . As she didn't smell I didn't fret about it . It was only when she went to a care home that they managed to get her bathed .
  3. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    Personal hygiene (or lack of) is to me one of the bigger stumbling blocks with dementia. It's frequently the case that if asked the PWD will say they have already showered, changed clothes etc. Unfortunately that's often not the case.

    I think one thing you can try is to help him as unobtrusively as possible. I used to ask my mother if she would prefer a bath or shower. That worked, sometimes. I would try to get the clothes away - perhaps by offering clean clothes with an excuse - they're a gift from you, the colours look good on him.

    Good luck to you both - this is such a hard thing to deal with.
  4. karaokePete

    karaokePete Registered User

    Jul 23, 2017
    N Ireland
    Hello @Derwent, welcome from me too. I hope you find the forum to be a friendly and supportive place.

    Do take a good look around the site as it is a goldmine for information. When I first joined I read old threads for information but then found the AS Publications list and the page where a post code search can be done to check for support services in ones own area. If you are interested in these, clicking the following links will take you there



    You will see that there are Factsheets that will help with things like getting care needs assessments, deciding the level of care required and sorting out useful things like Wills, Power of Attorney etc. They even deal with personal hygiene as it's a common issue.

    Now that you have found us I hope you will keep posting as the membership has vast collective knowledge and experience.
  5. Rob_E

    Rob_E Registered User

    Feb 1, 2015
    In the earlier days I would get mum to have a bath by setting it all up for her - running the bath, putting out some clean clothes and then sell it to her that there's a nice warm bath for her to get into. I think the whole processs of organising the bath was quite daunting for her and she just couldn't handle it. I avoided making references to the fact it had been x number of weeks since she last had a bath as this just got her all agitated.

    That worked for about a year. Now the carers do it, often external carers have more success due to the different relationship.
  6. Azay28

    Azay28 Registered User

    Nov 21, 2015
    Welcome. As already said this is such a great place for advice and support.

    I can only manage to get Mum to shower once a month when she has to take her osteoporosis tablet where she needs to wait an hour before eating breakfast. Therefore she's only out of bed so in her nightwear. I say we're going to have a shower in about 20 mins and gradually prepare everything including clean clothes. She often wears clothes over and over again. Sometimes when the carer gets clean clothes ready she will change the next day but other times not. Very hit and miss. Every time she pulls a face and says she doesn't want one. I always reply ''I know you don't but you are having one'' and take her gently by the hand and put an arm around her going into bathroom. She's still not happy but I've managed it for the past year or so.
    I think it's going to be trial and error to see if you can find a way that works for you and your Dad. I've had plenty of worry and guilt over personal hygiene but have now become more accepting of what will be will be. As others have said it's a common trait of a PWD. I hope you find a solution that works for you but if not try not to fret, it's no reflection on yourself but rather the illness.
    Azay :(
  7. Duggies-girl

    Duggies-girl Registered User

    Sep 6, 2017
    My dad has stopped showering of which I am quite happy about as I no longer have to worry about him slipping up in the shower. He does still have a wash every night although I don't know exactly what that entails but he doesn't smell so I am not worrying too much at the moment. I took him for a haircut the other day and waited outside for him, well they cut his hair for him so it cant be too bad.

    As for clothes dad is wearing the same shirt for too long and I don't want to embarrass him so once or twice a week I volunteer to do his washing and just say I may as well do that shirt while I am here and he gives it to me.

    Not ideal I know but I don't want to cause friction as we get on well most of the time. It is a slippery slope though and I know there is a time when I will have to get a little more persuasive.

    I used dads shower a couple of weeks ago and found that the plug was blocked and the water was not running away so I asked him if he had noticed this. He told me that he showers at least three or four times a week (I know he doesn't as the cubicle has been bone dry for a good while) so he obviously truly believes that he does and he also believes that his shirt is also clean on every day. It's just another step down in this horrible disease and I don't know what the answer is to be honest.
  8. Martarita

    Martarita Registered User

    May 11, 2018
    Hi Rob E
    My OH wouldn't get showered or get bathed for weeks and he'd always say he'd been showered and I knew he definitely hadn't, I really think he'd forgotten how to turn the shower on , now every Sunday morning is bath morning , I'd prepared a nice warm bath for him to get in as I wanted change the beddin , I'd wash his back and his hair for him which helped , I really couldn't understand the not wanting to wash and change his clothes,as he was obsessed with being clean , I think we've cracked the bathing now , but for how long who knows ,so good luck with that Rob .x
  9. RosettaT

    RosettaT Registered User

    Sep 9, 2018
    Mid Lincs
    Would bribery work? You go have a shower and I'll pop out and get you fish & chips as a treat, or if he complains of aches and pains, a nice warming shower? My mum would do things for others she wouldn't do for me but we usually found some way round it with the help of a neighbour and some skulduggery.
  10. Rob_E

    Rob_E Registered User

    Feb 1, 2015
    Thanks @Martarita and best of luck to you also!
  11. Francy

    Francy Registered User

    Dec 3, 2018
    Co Down
    So glad to have read this is a common problem. It has been the source of some rows between me and JH for quite a while, trouble is he does get smelly but I have learned to refrain myself and live with it, not easy though.As for changing his clothes I just remove them and wash them ,though sometimes I think he'd take them off the line and wear them wet, he gets really angry when I wash his clothes . Knowing this is common helps me understand more.

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