1. zoe woodward

    zoe woodward Registered User

    Jun 4, 2015
    Hi there
    We have recently moved my parents-in-law (dad 88 and mum 80) to live nearer to us in Brighton so that we can provide more support for them. As such, I am going in to their bungalow once a week to clean and am therefore more privy to how they are coping day-to-day than I would be if I just visited for a cuppa.

    What has come to light is their lack of personal hygiene and I don't know whether this is something that we should try to enforce change. As I am the only one who puts the washing machine on, I know for a fact that she only changes her pants once a week and I have only washed a pair of his underpants once in 8 weeks! Neither of them shower or top and tail wash - Mum has gone for 4 weeks without showering and then has only done so because we have threatened that we won't take her out unless she does so, but she pulls a face and is reluctant. I should say that this is a woman who used to embarrass my husband as a child because she was so immaculately turned out when she picked him up from school and stood out from all the other mums! Dad shaves now and again at the sink but I'm pretty sure that he doesn't shower regularly. Both seem to clean their teeth however. I should also add that the shower is kitted out to make the experience easier for them - shallow tray to step into, grab rails, seat and easy to operate shower head.

    There are lots of other signs of their memory not being quite what it should and odd behaviors but it is the personal hygiene issue that bothers me most.
    Can anyone offer any advice or perhaps been through the same situation?

    Thank you:)
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hello Zoe

    Firstly, welcome to Talking Point.

    Secondly, if you are using your real name please read TP`s recommendations for Staying Safe on Line;


    and ask for your User name to be changed, @ talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk.

    In response to your post, there could be many reasons why your parents have become lax about their hygiene.

    They could have lost their sense of time so won`t realise they haven`t changed their clothes.

    They could be afraid of slipping in the shower or have problems getting out of the bath.

    Many people with dementia lose their sense of smell so if this has happened to your parents they will not know they smell.

    Or they have no insight into the way they are living.

    I had this problem with my mother and only managed a possible problem with my husband because he was with me and I was able to put clean clothes out and prompt him in other areas.

    Perhaps you could take advice, either from the National Dementia Helpline;


    or your parents` GP for a referral to Social Services

    or your local branch of the Alzheimer`s Society

  3. henfenywfach

    henfenywfach Registered User

    May 23, 2013
    Hi! You kind of hit the nail on the head really..your mum used to be the best dressed mum at the school gates. In essence in my personal experience i dont compare to how they were in the past..its useful to assess on a medical aspect but when theres so much to consider and work out so many ups and downs we tend to try and makes their lives and personality still fit the person they used to be. We are aware that personalities change and if theres a diagnosis of cognitive memory impairnent or dementia everything can change.
    For example washing..what is washing?..do they know how to do it. ...? If the persons memory is back in their childhood or teenage years..then mam might have helped them ..or they went through teenage non hygiene phase. Please have a look at the bookcase senario on the web it ll all become clear!
    If its a new property it could be she thinks its not her house and its cheeky to take a shower.
    Even in white bathrooms theres a reflection in tiles. So when going into bathroom theres always someone in there!!!
    I totally understand as an unpaid carer myself that its easier to do things ourselves. Involve them in things like the washing. Even if they only hold the powder or sit talking to you. We can as families make them feel more disabled because we want to wrap them up in cotton wool. Its a natural instinct and sometimes we have to.

    The main things is that theyre nearer to you and that can take a weight off your mind.
    Best wishes to you all!

    Sent from my GT-I9505 using Talking Point mobile app
  4. balloo

    balloo Registered User

    Sep 21, 2013
    my mother in law was like this unless i told her she had to bath or shower she lives with us now and i also have toput out clean clothes evry nigth on her chair next to bed and remove dirty ones if not say i was out and other half forgot to do this she would have same ones on next day . can cause \uti's so now she does as i say with me incharge of were and when and what or we dont go out
  5. jugglingmum

    jugglingmum Registered User

    Jan 5, 2014
    If my mum showered with only pulling a face at me, I would think result!

    When her needs were assessed by the SW mum when asked about showering said 'I really don't see the point'. I think its a combination of she finds it quite a hard process to think through, and she no longer has the concept of how often to change clothes and wash.

    I don't live with my mum, and don't spend long with her when I visit (she is profoundly deaf so conversation is hard), so whilst I remind her, I get the pulled face, but no success in getting her to shower.

    No answers just this is a common problem for many of us.
  6. Isabella41

    Isabella41 Registered User

    Feb 20, 2012
    Northern Ireland
    When mum was still living on her own with carers coming in she stank to high heaven. The carers could not persuade her to shower. She'd tell them she'd sort herself out later. I used to spray her with copius amounts of cheap perfume for her weekly trip to the shops as it was easier than getting involved in a battle. Once she went in to a care home it was a totally different story. She smells sweet all of the time. The staff told me that for alot of the residents showering means nothing to them and if left to their own devices it would never happen. They explained that for a lot of the residents (mum included) its as if they have forgotten how to shower.

    Do you think this could be the case with your inlaws. Would they accept help to shower if it was suggested to them?
  7. patsy56

    patsy56 Registered User

    Jan 14, 2015
    Fife Scotland
    Hi Zoe welcome to TP, you will find if you browse the site, we are all or have experienced the "no washing" or even the clothes. My mothers latest was she had no pants (we do get carer to take to laundry) and so had to buy and then send pants to her. You will find the bathing an on going topic here, so just to say you are not alone, and over days and weeks her you will find all the help you require.

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