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Elderly Mum who won't spend any money on clothes.

(52 Posts)
nansoval Wed 06-Jan-16 17:59:19

My mum is nearly 94 years old and lives independently. she is comfortably off financially, but refuses to buy any new/secondhand clothes.
Quite frankly I'm ashamed of the way she dresses but find it hard to tell her so - as does my sister.
She goes on and on about various items she needs, but there is never the right item anywhere.
She desperately needs a new wardrobe of clothes, but says she doesn't go anywhere to wear them and she won't get the wear out of them.
Shopping with her is diabolicle and ends in a shouting match.
anybody have any ideas on replacing her threadbare clothes ?

LullyDully Wed 06-Jan-16 18:08:37

Sounds like my DH!!!!! Sorry to be flippant.

I suppose she feels its a waste of money at her age. Would she wear clothes if you bought them for her as a present?

She probably fears a loss of independence and doesn't like to do as she is told. This is not a criticism by the way, just a commentary on old age. Frustrating.

grannylyn65 Wed 06-Jan-16 18:09:41

TBH, after 20 plus years of working with the 'older adult ' you are not going to win this one!!!

NanaandGrampy Wed 06-Jan-16 18:12:33

Maybe start small, a gift of a cardigan from a favourite child/ grandchild .

Given and opened with that person there who could encourage her to 'try it on' ??

Or a terrible 'accident' in the washing machine destroys the load...:-)

I don't envy you one bit :-) x

ninathenana Wed 06-Jan-16 18:21:00

Would she try on clothes that you ordered on line or from a catalogue maybe ?
She may be a bit more receptive in the comfort of her own home.
I feel your frustration.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 06-Jan-16 18:21:33

Do you give her clothes for birthdays and Christmas? Most of my stuff has been bought by my daughters.

Auntieflo Wed 06-Jan-16 18:22:01

A family friend had this problem with her elderly Mother. Old clothes were worn continually, and any new, presents or replacements, were hidden away in drawers. When she died, clothes were discovered in as new condition, and her everyday clothes had been kept, holes and all, and not even washed regularly.

Bellanonna Wed 06-Jan-16 18:41:55

My mother died at 95 and we had the same problem. I used to buy nice almost new suits and skirts from charity shops and tell her they were mine, and would she like to try them on before I gave them to charity? She did occasionally say she didn't remember seeing this or that on me, and I'd say I hadn't worn it for ages. It worked and because nothing was brand new it didn't get squirrelled away in drawers for a "best" that wouldn't happen.
It worked for us, anyway, with minimum outlay.
Thankfully she didn't seem to catch on that I would never have worn the rather dated, though good quality, stuff that I presented her with.

annsixty Wed 06-Jan-16 18:54:34

My mother, until she died aged 101 loved new clothes (which we bought) she was always complaining that others in her residential home had more new clothes than she did and she would say "all bought by their very generous families" of course.

Nana3 Wed 06-Jan-16 20:44:33

I bought clothes for my parents for years when they were housebound. For a long time before that they wore the same things mostly without washing them.
My dad particularly wore the same dirty clothes day after day and I had to develop tactics to get him changed, it was very tricky.
They had previously been very smart and took pride in their appearance.
I would add new clothes to the wardrobe, they were new versions of their old clothes or as close as I could get.
Now in a care home Mum is clean and often in something not hers and I see other ladies in clothes I have carefully chosen for her. I don't worry about it.
My Dad died in November and we have been in many really bad situations particularly over the last year, so I don't give clothes a second thought now.

When I was in a similar situation to you nansoval I took their clothes home every week and washed, ironed and repaired them. I took some things to the dry cleaners too.
I used to get worked up about their clothes but it changed, more and more problems came as they began to lose independence.
I'm so sorry not to sound more positive, writing this is bringing it all back to me.
All my very best wishes.

annsixty Wed 06-Jan-16 21:02:52

My mother's clothes, clearly name taped ,were never ever lost. She was in a good care home but she was "all there" and looked after her own things. So grateful for that

Deedaa Wed 06-Jan-16 21:08:46

Sounds like my MiL who decided she didn't need to bother with clothes once she was old (40ish!) She wore the same three crimplene dresses for years, it's all my children remember her in. The problem was solved when she went into a home and I had control of her money and supplied a whole new wardrobe which I could add to from time to time.

durhamjen Wed 06-Jan-16 22:23:15

Sounds like me!

Eloethan Wed 06-Jan-16 23:33:31

My Mum (95) is very comfortably off but is loathe to spend any money on anything. Not that she needs to spend much on clothes because she has plenty even though I did a big clear out a couple of years ago. Despite it now being easier to see what is in the wardrobe and take it out without a struggle, she still tends to wear the same thing over and over again. When I go to see her every other week I just ask her to give me her clothes to take home to launder and then she has to change into something else.

nansoval If you just went and bought some clothes for your Mum, would she be happy to pay you back or would you end up footing the bill (or there are some quite nice clothes in charity shops)? I can relate to what you say about "shouting matches". I always resolve to remain calm and patient, but it's easier said than done and I often end up feeling very guilty.

Wendysue Wed 06-Jan-16 23:38:47

Hi Nansoval!

Wow! So your mother is almost 94! I would love to have had mine live that long! I hope you and your sister appreciate the gift of having her this long, especially since she is comfortable and so forth. Not saying you don't, just saying I think the joy of that should be first and foremost.

I'm not sure why you're ashamed of how she dresses? Are her clothes worn out and often dirty? Or is it just that she doesn't buy/wear the latest styles or that she opts for less expensive ones? If it's the condition of her clothes that you're worried about, I'm totally with you there and think you should try some of the suggestions others have made.

If it's just the style or the low cost, then, I'm sorry but I don't think that's up to you or your sister. In fact, Mum may argue with you over it cuz she feels you're treading on her independence. Some elderly people, I know, feel that one of the perks of aging is that they don't have to worry about being in style and stuff, anymore. You may not agree, but I'm sure you can see that she has a right to her own opinion on that subject. And that just cuz she's old doesn't mean she doesn't have a right to make her own decisions about how she dresses or anything else.

You can't help how you feel, but please - pick your battles with Mum. Cuz I hate to say it but you don't know how much longer you'll have her.

ffinnochio Thu 07-Jan-16 06:52:36

nansoval If your mother keeps herself clean, as well as her clothes, then I don't see that as a problem. If not, then I can see it needs addressing. You don't make this clear.
If someone insisted I change my choice of clothing, I'd feel pretty pissed off, regardless of my age.

NanKate Thu 07-Jan-16 07:55:04

If her clothes are clean and she likes wearing them I would not say anything.

I had a snug warm gilet that I wore regularly and I was quite annoyed when DH said 'why do you still wear that old thing?' I still have it hidden away I think I will find it out and wear it today if it still fits me. hmm

Marmight Thu 07-Jan-16 08:53:53

Not sure what the answer is Nan.
My Mum loved new and expensive clothes and enjoyed buying and wearing them. Her sister who is now 100, rarely buys anything new, but what she does wear is comfortable and clean. For her birthday party I suggested a trip out to buy a 'party' dress but she declined and found a dress, which she had worn to my daughter's wedding 13 years before, at the back of her wardrobe and felt happy and comfortable in it. I think the older generation are a product of the make-do and mend society from the early part of the C20 and I applaud them for it - so long as what they do wear is clean and cared for wink. I have a wardrobe full of impulse buys some of which have never seen daylight and I tend to wear what is comfy or what makes me feel good. Too much choice these days!

thatbags Thu 07-Jan-16 09:10:22

What ffinn said. Plus, "needs a new wardrobe of clothes". Really? I find the idea of a "new wardrobe of clothes" really rather.... well, I'm struggling for words as to what I find it: distasteful, a wasteful idea.

I have never had a whole new wardrobe of clothes. I buy items of clothing as I need or want, not whole batches. I guess the new wardrobe of clothes idea is on a par with "make-over" ideas. That I also find rather gross.

If your mum is clean and comfortable, why does it matter if she's a bit shabby (or whatever) in your opinion? I don't think it matters at all. Nor do I think her impressing you with her clothes sense, which seems to be what you want, matters at all.

If shopping with her (for clothes, or do you include ordinary grocery shopping?) is diabolical, why do you do it, since she doesn't seem to want your clothes 'help'?

Perhaps you need to back off on the subject of clothes with your mum.

thatbags Thu 07-Jan-16 09:36:40

Re-reading the OP, I see that it says the lady "goes on and on" about items she needs but can't seem to find the right things. I know the feeling well of not finding exactly what I want. Always have. It sounds to me as if she is quite particular. Good for her.

And perhaps she, and you (and your sister?) just haven't been looking in the right places so far. Without knowing her style and comfort preferences we can't really make suggestions that might help.

nanaandgrampy's suggestion of a really thoughtful present of something she might like and use is good.

Stansgran Thu 07-Jan-16 09:55:00

I had an elderly neighbour who became housebound and had to go into respite care for a few weeks. Her clothes and bed linen had got into a dreadful state and I managed to get her a quite reasonable wardrobe for the care home from one of the charity shops. They were in fact quite enthusiastically helpful when I explained the situation and delved into the back of the shop. The neighbour always saw herself as a suit person and we put together enough for her stay . In fact she enjoyed the companionship of the care home so much she was reluctant to go home. Perhaps the op could try the charity shop way.

grannyjack Thu 07-Jan-16 09:58:36

Bit different from my Granny, who at 96, wanted a new outfit for my (2nd) wedding. However she turned up wearing her usual going out dress & jacket. When I asked her where her wedding outfit was, said "I'm keeping it for a special occasion!"
I had spent two day tramping from shop to shop with her to find this special outfit but I did laugh & then so did she - " I can go off in it dear!"
I still miss her- we drank a lot of G&Ts together.

ffinnochio Thu 07-Jan-16 10:15:19

When my mother was in a nursing home, she needed help dressing. On the whole she was remarkably stoical about her situation, but the one thing that really upset her, to the point of weeping, was being dressed in another resident's clothes, even though Mum's clothes were carefully labelled. The laundry was less than particular in making sure each resident received their own clothes back, and the staff were less than understanding at her upset. She wasn't especially smart or tidy, but what mattered was that her clothes were hers .

Still bugs me!

littleowl Thu 07-Jan-16 11:38:08

My Mom is 87 and conforms to all the characteristics listed above. She wears her old clothes all the time now but used to be clothes crazy and would buy something every week.
There are still about 10 pink coats hanging up in the garage. When I suggest getting rid of them she goes mad. Yet at Christmas a friend sent her a pair of gloves and she said - where am I supposed to wear these?
Perhaps our lovely Mums like the thought of the clothes and looking at them but cannot see a reason to buy any.
Best of luck but I think you will have to ‘let it be’ on this one. No point upsetting her now.

thatbags Thu 07-Jan-16 11:52:05

I remember my grandma wanting a new handbag so someone in the family bought her one with the exact specifications she'd talked about. She may even have been shopping for it with them. It then took her months to change over from her old one. She had got used to all its idiosyncracies and the change and getting used to something unfamiliar was a big deal when she was very old. I get that (especially since I can sometimes see the tendency in teenage Minibags already!).