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Stopped Showering and Does not Change Her Clothes.
Hi, Linuxhitman (love your name!)
My mom has been exhibiting the same behaviors as your spouse for over a year now. It was/has been very frustrating trying to get her to bathe and change her clothing even though I keep trying to help her.
When the advanced stage of her dementia first became apparent to me I had to enlist the help of a neighbor whom she trusted to help me wrangle her into the shower. It really took both of us to say "Come on, mom, no excuses, you need a bath" and scrub her down.
After I moved her to my house, and then into a quasi-assisted living apartment it was a continuing struggle to get her into the shower. Like your wife she would insist that she had given herself a sponge bath or shower but it was obvious she hadn't. She was also sleeping in her clothes and wearing the same clothing for days at a time. Every day I would be begging, pleading to help her bathe and change her clothing.
Last fall I moved her into memory care. The staff experienced similar problems as I had with getting her to bathe. Recently they told me they've had a breakthrough and now they are able to help her to bathe twice a week. It's been a long struggle. It took them months of cajoling and begging to get her to this point. Recently there was a relapse and none of us could get her to allow us to wash her hair for nearly a month. There were phone calls, much discussion, many plans on how to get this accomplished. Finally she relented.
It's an Alzheimer's/dementia thing. I do think it would help to have another woman come in to help her bathe. There are also lots of tricks for convincing a dementia sufferer to bathe--making it a soothing experience, making it spa-like. Using lotions and lots of towels. There are many Youtube videos with advice on this topic. Good luck! It's very frustrating but very typical of the disease.
Hi. Whenever I tell my mother its time to take a shower she says the same thing "I already took a shower". So, I dont say that anymore. Your wife is not being deceitful. She honestly believes that she already took a shower. What I do is wait until my mom gets up to go to the bathroom, and I say "lets get you cleaned up while we are in here. I will help you".
Is it possible for you to shower with her, or at least get in there while she is showering? Aside from your wife needing help turning on the water, she might have a fear of falling, not like the sound or feel of the shower hitting her head, or many other things. Do you have a shower chair and grab bars? Do you have a handheld shower head?
As for her changing her clothes, it looks like she is going to need help with that too. I only change my mom's clothes on shower days (twice a week) (but change her Depends several times a day). On non-shower days we rely on warm wipes and the bidet.
As time goes on she is going to need more and more help. If your plan is to care for her at home you are definitely going to need help.
"When I point out I get up at 05:00 in the morning and work from home so I would know if she showered, she gets agitated and claims she took one the night before." - yikes. not a good strategy but you probably figured that out by now.
LHM I'm talking out of school since I haven't faced it yet, but I think your idea of requesting a home health aide to come in and at least try is worth it. You won't know unless you try, and she might respond differently to someone she doesn't know.
We are just now getting to the not showering stage. Winter is always hard because she hates to be cold, even though the floors in our bathrooms and showers are heated. So I'm just watching it for now. But she hasn't requested that I buy deodorant or shampoo in months, and I think she's just not using them (blessed with very low body odor anyway). And so far, she can still dress, and is changing clothes appropriately.
I wish I had something to offer, but I need help in this area too.
What I was informed by independent living trainers, visiting nurses, OTs ...is that it happens in elderly and dementia clients alike. If you can't get them to shower regularly then settling for sponge baths will suffice. I was informed not to argue or pressure.
As described by someone else, my mom sleeps in clothes for weeks at a time and puts her robe on in the am and takes it off in the pm. During recent PCP visit when asked if she had burning she looked surprised and answered "yes, but not all the time". Yikes!!!
I'm working up enough strength to have a talk about scheduling shower once a week (start slow). If that goes nowhere, I will look into having someone come in once a week to make sure she has a shower. This is in the planning stage as COVID is HIGH in our area, so limiting exposure over showering is priority, now.
Several caregivers here have said their LO “obeyed”, or followed direction, better from a trained caregiver and/or another, outside person. It may be some leftover respect for authority? Or sometimes the aide knows some new tricks that work? It may not work for everybody, but yes, bringing in someone else often does work.
Not bathing is a very common problem. My DH with Alzheimer’s also insisted “I just did” even though I absolutely knew he did not. Arguing or trying to convince him did no good. I would just drop it for an hour or so, then try again with some different suggestions about how to do it.
Sometimes an outside person/professional or stranger can be more effective. Our health assistant that first came to us not only did better with Mom but the methods and "tricks" she employed taught us were quite effective getting her through taking a shower. They have seen and have so much experience beyond ours. Plus, a person that doesn't have a close emotional connection or history helps at times.