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Elderly parent

(43 Posts)
justanovice Fri 30-Nov-18 13:53:49

I know that lots of Gransnetters care for elderly parents so I hope that one of you can help. My DH has a 93 year old mother with mild dementia. We look after her, take her shopping etc. I also do her washing. My problem is that it is becoming more and more difficult to make her change her clothes. I wondered you had any suggestions which would enable me to get her to change her stained clothing without deeply offending her which is what I seem to be doing at the moment.

Teetime Fri 30-Nov-18 13:59:17

Ah I do know from personal and professional experience how difficult this is. I'm afraid all you can do is gently reassure and cajole and accept small concessions from her rather than wanting her to change all her clothes at once. I found some people really didn't want to take of any clothes as they felt the cold. Sometimes it comes better from a carer or support worker than family. I'm sorry not to have the definitive answer its all trial and error I'm afraid but insisting and getting cross will make things worse. I'm so sorry - I have been there and I know how frustrating and distressing it is. Best wishes. flowers

MiniMoon Fri 30-Nov-18 14:06:50

If you are there at bedtime, could you take the dirty clothes and put out fresh clean ones for the morning? I know how difficult it is as I worked, for most of my life, with the elderly mentally ill.

kittylester Fri 30-Nov-18 14:11:09

On the courses I help run for carers, we suggest having duplicate clothing as it is often about familiarity.

Anja Fri 30-Nov-18 14:13:39

I used to help an elderly relatives to bath. She had one of those bath seats that move up and down but needed supervising getting in and out. I used to nick her clothes and lay out clean ones while she was splashing about.

Feelingmyage55 Fri 30-Nov-18 15:06:00

My mum wanted to wear the same item every night. It took me a while to understand so eventually I bought duplicates of the clothes she was comfy in (usually M & Co) so affordable. The biggest problem was her bra - she really struggled so she progressed to a sleep bra (soft, unsupported and no hooks to irritate her very papery skin), then we gave up and she wore no bra at all as she found it so irritating (and perhaps because she was living in the past). A top and a cardigan were perfectly modest. Also mum had worn trousers for decades and struggled at the toilet with pants and trousers, so she happily changed to elasticated waist, soft fabric skirts. It was easier for both her and whoever was helping.
With mild dementia, many people are more confused in the evening (sundowning?) and sometimes we just allowed mum to sleep in her day clothes. After all when she was showered in the morning and everything on clean, it didn’t seem terrible to allow her to wear the clothes for 24 hours rather than upset her. She would shower very happily if she liked the smell of her shower gel and it was vey foamy. We eventually found a particular fruity smell that she loved and that was a huge help. She also had a favourite towel and would not shower unless that was available. Before the shower (epic effort but had to be done to look after her skin) I would promise her a treat after of something that was essentially a reward for cooperating. I needed a treat myself! Sometimes though, it is not worth the emotional upset. Mum also often wore clothes inside out and we finally realised that the seams were irritating her.
I hope that gives a little insight. Your mum may just not want anyone to see her undressed. My mum became quite uninhibited. I was always embarrassed but she didn’t seem to be. Sometimes allowing her to choose her clothes helped, sometimes the decision was too big as to what to wear. I took a long time to learn how to go with the flow. One thing that was never a problem was getting her hair done - that was always perceived as a treat.
Sorry if this is a bit long.

justanovice Fri 30-Nov-18 15:27:14

Thank you for your advice. I should have explained that my DH's mum lives alone and is extremely independent.

kittylester Fri 30-Nov-18 15:43:45

Stained clothing may be bothering you but, if she isn't bothered, then forget it for a while.

Grammaretto Fri 30-Nov-18 16:02:46

DM disliked bathing and particularly hair washing so we bought dry shampoo and she had bed baths.
Also cutting her nails was a problem . The carers refused to cut her nails so SiL or I would do it but she squealed as though we were cutting off her fingers.
Latterly she was bedbound so day clothes got motheaten in the wardrobe and it was just floral polycotton nighties towards the end.
It comes to us all.

janeainsworth Fri 30-Nov-18 17:25:09

justanoviceit might help to give your MiL a choice.
Take away the stained clothing and offer two different outfits.
It worked with my mum when she didn’t want to bathe. I would say something like ‘you can have your bath now or at 10.30 when I’ve finished this job.’
Not bathing wasn’t an option.
It sounds as though you’re doing a brilliant job flowers

silverlining48 Fri 30-Nov-18 18:05:04

My mum never wanted to change her clothes either, it’s a common problem I think. It’s difficult, but if she has a bath then try and change them then, keeping like for like if possible, but if she resists then leave her be. She will only get upset.
It’s hard, very hard.

justanovice Fri 30-Nov-18 18:28:34

Thank you so much for your advice. I suppose that I shouldn't worry about it but the high spot of her week is going out for lunch and I feel that I am letting her down if she goes out covered in food stains.

silverlining48 Fri 30-Nov-18 19:10:20

Its good she is still enjoying lunch out, you are not letting her down, if she does go out with stains on her front so be it.
Gentle persuasion might work, otherwise try not to worry, ignore and let her enjoy her day out. Well done for caring.

Meg54 Sat 01-Dec-18 10:00:57

I had this with my MIL.

With a large portion of trifle, (heavily laced with sherry!), she would go to bed. I would then sneak in, gather her clothes, apply stain remover, wash and dry them overnight, and put them back before she woke the next morning. I did this every night until all clothes and bedding were clean.
We used to travel to hers to bring her back for a stay with us, so it must have been easier than your options.

Orelse Sat 01-Dec-18 10:04:22

You are doing so well in looking after MIL you are clearly a loving family. Do you remember the old fashioned wrap over "pinny" you can still get them .we bought 3 identical ones and encouraged her to wear it indoors over her clothes,brightly coloured , she quickly took to wearing it regularly, it keeps her clean and fresh . Good luck , and don't forget careers need their support too so look after you

Hemelbelle Sat 01-Dec-18 10:06:34

My DM has mild dementia and would refuse help with self care. One thing that made her much more likely to have a shower or wash was if the carers said 'it'll make your children happy if you do' or 'do (whatever needed doing) to keep your children happy'. I hope this works for you.
Well done for taking on such a challenging role and best wishes.

Orelse Sat 01-Dec-18 10:10:15

You could also get a pretty tabard 😊

Witzend Sat 01-Dec-18 10:55:37

My FiL who had dementia became extremely stubborn about washing or changing clothes. However he was living with us (until it became too much for me to cope with) so I would have a clean set ready, watch like a hawk for when he went to the loo first thing, zoom in and swap.
He never noticed.

This sort of thing is a perennial problem with dementia I'm afraid. Later had the same problem with my formerly fastidious mother, who would refuse to bath or shower, except when my sister, who lived much further away, visited far less often and didn't mind getting tough, would say very bluntly, 'You need a shower - you smell!' (she did.)

I who visited much more often could never face all the tears and upset, but they were soon forgotten and I'm sure she must have felt better afterwards.

Hemelbelle Sat 01-Dec-18 11:04:16

Further to my previous message above: that is how we persuaded my DM to have carers in the first place: to keep us happy. She would tell her friends that she didn't need carers but it kept her children happy!

MissAdventure Sat 01-Dec-18 11:07:46

You could always put something clean over the top of the stained item.
Then, later on, if its too hot, swoop in and whip both off, leaving the clean one to put back on.

hippie Sat 01-Dec-18 11:18:22

goodness I'll remember all that as I'm nearing needing care - I hate to think I smell but at the moment bathing is out and the shower is too dangerous (no handles) I wash down and reward myself afterwards with - um - just a quick ciggie - yes! I'm a wicked old woman!

keriku Sat 01-Dec-18 11:25:08

My mil only consented to carers after my fil died and the gp said it was the only way she could study in her own home. She refused to wash or change clothes, so the carers suggested baby wipes do they could give her a quick wipe down. She was getting up at 4am and dressing in the same dirty clothes as her inherent modesty would not allow folk to see her undressed. When my fil was alive, I used to midnap his clothes and virtually boil them. It’s so sad as they were always so smart and immaculate.

kwest Sat 01-Dec-18 11:26:35

My granny used to live with me after my parents died in my mid-twenties. She used to wash from head to foot every night in case she died in her sleep. Eventually things changed and she didn't like washing or changing her clothes. She had lost her sense of smell. Tuesday morning was her regular bathing time and was the same morning that our cleaning lady came. As soon as Granny went into the bathroom, the bath already run for her, we would rush into her bedroom and replace all of her clothes with clean ones. She never objected to that but woe betide anyone who might suggest that she was less than bandbox fresh at any other time.

HurdyGurdy Sat 01-Dec-18 11:46:34

Would it work if you said to her "I need to put on a darks/lights/delicates wash and I've not really got enough for a full load. Could I have your xxxxxx to make up a load"?

meg54 - "With a large portion of trifle, (heavily laced with sherry!),"
That did make me smile

jocork Sat 01-Dec-18 11:50:46

My mother suffered from epilepsy so could not have a bath when alone in case she had a seizure so she used to give herself all over washes at the sink. As she got older, as she lived alone, we had the bath removed and a large shower fitted in its place. When I went to stay I used the shower and found it was impossible to use as it was so hot I couldn't stand under it even when set to the coolest setting! She insisted it was fine. I eventually realised she had probably never used it!
She eventually went into sheltered accommodation and had carers visiting twice a week to give her a shower. On those days she would get up extra early and be dressed when they arrived, then say "Oh I'm dressed now so I won't have the shower." It was a real battle to get her to use the shower at all. That was when I realised she had probably never used her shower in her old house.
Thankfully, she didn't smell, so she must have been washing enough somehow. She was OK about changing clothes I think. She had someone who came to clean her room and do her washing so she got by.
I dread getting to the stage I need help doing personal care. Getting old can be a terrible thing.