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Difficult Mother in Law

(64 Posts)
justanovice Wed 06-Mar-19 18:13:20

I have raised the subject of my MinL's clothing on Gransnet before and everyone was very helpful but the general consensus was that if she didn't want to change her clothes she didn't have to. Fair enough. She has now been wearing the same shirt for 10 weeks and nothing we can say will persuade her to change it. She has recently been diagnosed with mixed dementia and her memory is non existent so she is convinced that she washes and changes her clothes regularly and that we are being very rude to try and insist otherwise. Does anybody have any ideas?

M0nica Wed 06-Mar-19 18:18:48

Presumably she gets undressed and into night attire in the evening, when that happens, quietly remove the items that need washing and the following day, all you need to do is ask her what she wants to wear today.

I have an autistic nephew who would live in the same clothes without changing and that is how his carers and family deal with the problem.

justanovice Wed 06-Mar-19 18:26:07

She has her own house and is fiercely independent. We do a lot behind the scenes laundry, shopping etc which enables her to believe that she is self-sufficient. Perhaps that's where we are going wrong.

aggie Wed 06-Mar-19 18:26:41

MOnica is right , remove the clothes and either ask her to pick something or just place a fresh set where she usually leaves her day clothes

midgey Wed 06-Mar-19 18:43:48

Do you help at nighttime or is she independent at that time? I was thinking that perhaps you could duplicate her clothes so swooping things would be simpler.

justanovice Wed 06-Mar-19 18:46:00

No. She lives alone so she is always dressed when I see her.

MissAdventure Wed 06-Mar-19 18:47:19

How about buying a set of clothes exactly the same, (if you can)
If not, perhaps similar clothing, and just change one item when and if you can.

Its awful, but the thing to remember is that it isn't doing her any harm by wearing the same clothes for (gulp!) 10 weeks.
Could you just exchange her underwear for clean sometimes?

MissAdventure Wed 06-Mar-19 18:51:40

How about taking a new shirt in and saying you bought it for her and wondered if she would mind trying it on?
Then you may be able to say how nice it looks, make a cup of tea, and generally distract her from getting changed back into the dirty one.

justanovice Wed 06-Mar-19 18:52:21

I do buy her clothes ,including underwear. Always the same sort of things so interchangeable. Her drawers and wardrobe are full of clean clothes she just won't wear them.

justanovice Wed 06-Mar-19 18:53:57

That's a good idea MissAdventure I might try that. Thank you.

MissAdventure Wed 06-Mar-19 18:57:41

You're welcome. smile
I was just going to also suggest asking her if she has anything to go to the charity shop.
If she says yes, fetch some clothes out of her wardrobe and say "oh this top is lovely! It was tucked away, probably forgotten, you'll want to keep this, won't you?"
It may pique her interest enough to want to wear it.

Jalima1108 Wed 06-Mar-19 19:17:14

She sounds as if she needs help with bathing etc - even if someone helps only twice a week then the clothes could be changed then.

Jalima1108 Wed 06-Mar-19 19:19:35

Difficult Mother in Law
I think the OP is a misleading one - she has been diagnosed with dementia and memory loss so surely is not being deliberately difficult?

She sounds as if she needs a lot more support.

justanovice Wed 06-Mar-19 19:19:36

Another good idea MissAdventure. Thanks

justanovice Wed 06-Mar-19 19:30:54

It would be a braver woman than me who suggested that she needed help bathing. She is convinced that she is fully in control. Anything that might suggest otherwise is quickly forgotten.

justanovice Wed 06-Mar-19 19:45:42

I fully appreciate that she needs support but I can't force her to accept it. It took years to persuade her to have a cleaner.

showergelfresh Wed 06-Mar-19 22:50:32

Maybe that's the nub of the matter justanovice - you can't force her to accept it.
You could try letting go a bit. You are doing your best to take care of her but when all's said and done you can take a horse to water but not make it drink.
What ever age we are each of us has very different ideas for how we should be early dementia or not and I question any label...
You could end up running yourself ragged and for what?

paddyann Wed 06-Mar-19 23:36:13

she's NOT being difficult...she's ILL .

Teacheranne Wed 06-Mar-19 23:53:34

Spill something on her skirt while she is wearing it so it has to be changed!

My mum has Alzeimers, and like your MIL, lives alone so we have to be very sneaky with our support. We're pretty sure she is not showering ( toiletries on side of shower have not moved place for several weeks) but as she is not smelly, we have not thought of a way to persuade her to shower.

BradfordLass72 Thu 07-Mar-19 02:59:23

I have an auntie who is exactly the same and very, very fierce.
I tried repeatedly to get her to accept a cleaner without success. .

Only when she fell and was forced to go into hospital did she accept help on discharge. Once she could walk, she refused to let the cleaner into the house. She's not confused, nor is there any dementia - she just wants control. And who can blame her?
So I know what you mean justanovice you don't feel able to impose your will on a sick old lady.
Do you think she needs to be re-assessed for extra care? Would she accept it if it was decided she needed it?

If her memory is so bad, the suggestions above all sound workable. I only posted because it struck such a chord with me.
I stayed with my auntie for several weeks and I doubt she changed, or bathed properly, in all that time [grin} Yes, I did offer to help! No, she would not hear of it!!

justanovice Thu 07-Mar-19 08:38:12

Thank you for all your suggestions. I think that I am going to step back for a while. Helping by stealth doesn't seem to be working. If I don't do so much she may accept that she needs some support.

Telly Thu 07-Mar-19 10:17:51

I think that you are right, it is a thankless task to try to force people to accept help. You do what you think is right at the moment, no one could expect or do more. A lot of us have been in a similar situation and send our best wishes X

Rosina Thu 07-Mar-19 10:32:05

My aunt reached this stage - it was really pitiful as she would bathe and change only when one particular sister visited her and she was happy for them both to choose some fresh clothes. She would then look like her old self - a clean, smart woman with a sense of style. Another friend was upset about her Mil who would not shower - she became hysterical at any suggestion of water, and life did get a bit grim in the house with her odour and filthy clothing. Both these ladies went in to residential care and the personal hygiene matters seemed to be kept well under control - is it worth asking for some advice from the GP, or nurse practitioners?

stella1949 Thu 07-Mar-19 10:36:52

My mother used to wear the same pinafore for weeks on end too. There was nothing we could do about it. Her wardrobe was full of clean clothes and Tena pads - she wouldn't touch any of them. You have my sympathies - good luck.

Cobweb01 Thu 07-Mar-19 10:45:16

My mum had mixed dementia and I recognise this scenario. As already suggested, having two items the same can help, as can taking it in the evening and washing and drying it overnight. I am not sure how much longer she will be safe to live alone (mum certainly wasn't) and I understand the battle it can be to get them to accept help. Stepping back won't necessarily help as she does not live in reality anymore and she may not even realise you haven't been there, also, it may be dangerous to leave her. Dementia is a truly awful disease for the sufferer and their family.