What to do


Registered User
Aug 31, 2005
Good morning everyone

Went to visit mom yesterday. She was tearful as usual but that was not my concern. Recently she has stopped caring about herself in that she refuses to have her hair done at the carehome and seems to be wearing the same clothes for about a week and they look decidedly grubby.

I know that mom can be stubborn about changing her clothes but would I be right in asking the carers to make sure that she changes. They are very good and I don't want to upset them. The other thing is that they seem to wash everything on a hot wash and mom's cardigans in particular are shrinking. We obviously understand that we need to replace mom's things regularly especially her underwear, for reasons on slight incontinence, but we cannot afford to replace her cardigans all the time. This seems an unimportant thing given the illness mom has but yesterday she looked so grubby and unkempt, in fact she was the scruffiest resident there. We brought up the fact that she needs her hair done but her reply as always was I will have it done when I get home.

Sorry to ask your advice about unimportant issues but they have been troubling me.

PS. The new tablets haven't put in an appearance yet.

Thanks Jacky

Michael E

Registered User
Apr 14, 2005
Ronda Spain
Jacky hi,

I know little of care homes but I have similar problems with my wife - getting her to change her clothes is a battle I seldom win - tried taking them early in the morning to wash and leaving out fresh clothes - Huge anger and distress... She likes wearing familiar clothes.

Having her hair cut/coloured is also traumatic - will do it tomorrow - I will go to the hairdressers next week - A friend did it for her recently - almost broke the friendship Monique was so displeased at the (very good to my eyes) results.

Going out Monique's shirts/blouses are frequently not as 'fresh' looking (in fact stained) as I would like but she does not care..

I have sort of adopted the philosophy that the most important person is Monique and what others see - think- is not important. Easier to write than to follow.

Not sure if this helps but you are not alone - sometimes our folks can be very difficult and intransigent - but that seems to alter with time.



Registered User
Apr 4, 2004

My mother refused to have her hair done in the care home for a long time - like yours she'd say she would have it done when she 'went home'. Knowing she is/was a very thrifty person, always counting her pennies, I took the angle that if she had it done in the home it would be free (I get billed of course) and that she would have to pay her regular hairdresser - that did the trick ! She agreed straight away after weeks of refusing !


Registered User
Aug 31, 2005
Thanks Michael and Sarah for your replies.

Michael you are right, what does it matter what other people think. I just want mom to look nice because it makes me feel that we are looking after her but visiting and spending time with her are more important than grubby clothes. Best of luck in London.

Sarah your comment about hairdressing made me smile. Don't your wonder sometimes who is the one with the illness. I know I do especially when mom gets me totally confused.

Thanks again both. I will look at mom and not her clothes or hair next time I visit.



Registered User
Oct 23, 2003
West Sussex
Hi all, yes I found subterfuge could often work a treat too. I used to take Mums soiled clothes at bedtime, (often quietly kicking them out of the door with my foot as I kept her occupied chatting away!) and lay clean ones in their place. If she queried it in the morning, I said something like, Oh I was doing a wash and there were only a few bits so I put yours through as well so as not to be wasteful with the water. I also did the one about the cost etc. She was always very frugal, she said it was because she had lived through a war. With regard to the shrinking cardis, try to get ones that say OK to tumble dry. I found it was this more than the washing that seemed to ruin them. I also tried to get patterned blouses more than light, plain ones as the marks when they happened didn't glare out so much. Love She. XX


Registered User
Jun 2, 2005
Los Angeles, USA

I don't know how often you visit or how flexible the home is, but you might be able to arrange to take just a few things like your mother's cardigans to wash yourself. Industrial strength laundry (used in all nursing homes) does wear out clothes in a hurry.


Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
I am fortunate in that there is a washer & dryer at my mother's home for the use of residents and their families. I started doing her laundry again at least a year ago, if not longer (can't remember!) because, as noted, the homes use industrial laundering equipment and very hot settings for washer & dryer. Plus, the chances of losing items is much higher when the home does the laundry.

Before I started using the home's washer & dryer, I took laundry home every time I visited & brought the clean laundry in with me. I just got so tired of clothes disappearing. I don't think the staff was stealing my mother's clothes (as my aunt thought but that's another horror story in itself which will have to wait) because who the hell wants to steal clothing that someone has been majorly incontinent in? No, I'm sure the missing clothes end up in another resident's closet and the little dears don't recognize the clothes & push them to the back. Then, they pass on & the family gets rid of everything. My take on it - I've returned a number of items which were not my mum's. Once I even had literally to take the shirt off my mother's back because it wasn't hers. But I digress, as usual.

Back to the point, would it be possible for you to do your mum's laundry either at her home or your home? First & foremost, would you feel up to it? And what about facilites? I've developed a routine that's worked out for me & something like that may work for you.