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Stopped Showering and Does not Change Her Clothes.
Posted: Sunday, January 9, 2022 11:03 PM
Joined: 7/31/2021
Posts: 12

About November, my wife stopped taking regular showers. Use to be she took a shower at least very Wednesday and Saturday.  I'd adjust the water for her and she would clean herself a bit and even wash her hair sometimes. Now, when I suggest she shower she clams she took a shower or gave her self a sponge-bath in the morning.

OK, the sponge-bath is a small possibility.  However, it is a good bet she is being deceitful about the the shower. She cannot adjust the water without scalding herself so, when she does shower, I have to adjust the temperature for her.

On the morning of Dec 23 I "tricked" her by pretending she had asked about a shower the previous night and I offered to adjust the water for her.  She agreed that one time. However, since then, if I mention it, she tells me she took one already. 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.

Highly unlikely.  She sleeps in her clothes now and, as far as I can tell, hasn't changed pants, top, or underwear since Dec 28. It is possible she just puts her dirty clothes back on but I really doubt it.

My question is this: Does anyone have experience that indicates hiring someone to come in once or twice a week would help?  I am getting nowhere fast with getting her to respect her personal hygiene. Is it reasonable to expect she would respond better to a stranger?

Posted: Monday, January 10, 2022 2:14 AM
Joined: 8/24/2020
Posts: 260

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. 


Posted: Monday, January 10, 2022 6:22 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 3668

This allergy to soap, water and freshly laundered clothes seems more common than not.

It hit dad in the latter stages. My mom was never able to land on a workable solution. Like your wife, reasoning with him was never successful. He truly believed he'd showered when he first got up as was his custom his entire adult life. I still recall a New Years Day visit where he was wearing the same shirt he'd worn on Christmas caked in whatever food he'd had through the week including creamed chipped beef- he told me he'd laundered it. 

He wouldn't allow the young HHA to assist, but that may have been a gender thing. My friend's mom readily accepted showers from HHAs and even had favorites who "really got in there" to which my friend compared unfavorably. 

Some folks have success with getting the shower in first thing. Others shower together. Mayor Ed's daughter created a spa day for his wife and was successful where he had failed. My mom once got so frustrated by dad she spilled a drink on him to get him to shower- it worked the first time but not after that. Teepa Snow has shower videos that many swear by. 

Dad did go to MC around this time for this and so many other reasons. Once there the staff was able to get him into a 2x weekly routine with a couple of weeks. Ironically, there he'd allow my mom to help him shower.

Posted: Monday, January 10, 2022 7:58 AM
Joined: 1/31/2021
Posts: 59

Both my parents have become sporadic in their showering, and wear the same clothes for a week at a time. I'm not ready to battle them on the showering, but I will stop by when they are in bed and put their clothes in the wash. I have to actually put them in the washing machine, sometimes they will fish them out and put them on again! It's so unlike how they used to be, just another symptom of this horrible disease.
Posted: Monday, January 10, 2022 8:38 AM
Joined: 1/22/2013
Posts: 289

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.

Best wishes.


Posted: Monday, January 10, 2022 9:06 AM
Joined: 8/22/2020
Posts: 2526

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.

Emily 123
Posted: Monday, January 10, 2022 5:35 PM
Joined: 11/5/2020
Posts: 195

My mom would shower if I told her we were going out. Otherwise was rock firm that she had already showered,  So.  I started taking her with me to the store a lot more.  Most of the time she'd just sit in the car, which was fine as the vax wasn't out yet.  She's in AL now, and they can get her to shower twice a week.
Posted: Monday, January 10, 2022 7:37 PM
Joined: 1/10/2022
Posts: 72

Morning time seems to be the best time for my mom. As soon as she gets up I toilet her and tell her the nurse is coming to shower her, which is me her daughter. Although  she is very verbal, she has no idea what I'm  talking about. I always have everything  ready beforehand, clean clothes, pull-ups and towels. She hates being showered and usually  cries but cooperates while cursing me out. I ignore the names and try to distract her to  not to mention, it's a quick shower.  If she is not cooperating at all, I wash her after I toilet her, while she is sitting.on the toilet.  It at least gets her  somewhat clean.
Wilted Daughter
Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2022 6:55 PM
Joined: 12/30/2019
Posts: 162

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 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. 


Rescue mom
Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2022 8:16 PM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 2581

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.

Posted: Saturday, January 15, 2022 7:08 PM
Joined: 9/15/2020
Posts: 35

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.

Posted: Sunday, January 16, 2022 8:08 AM
Joined: 5/9/2021
Posts: 29

You could be describing my aunt. I doubt she took 6 baths in 2021 and she slept in her clothes. When I would suggest a bath, she would say she just took one or would take one tomorrow. And she slept in her clothes. Then, in December, a friend of hers stayed with her for a week so that I could get a break. The friend created a special day and got her to bathe! I returned a couple of days later and tried something new: I just started talking about Saturdays as bath day. Every Saturday. No matter what. It hasn't been very long, but creating a routine seems to be helping. I admit this may fall apart, but I'm counting it as a win for now.
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