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At wits end with smelly 82 year old mum! - Page 2 - Carers UK Forum

At wits end with smelly 82 year old mum!

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84 posts
Welcome Tony,

When all else fails...........babywipes work a treat.

Take care
Hi Tony - as Meg suggests baby wipes are good. When my aunt and uncle began to find it difficult to use the bathroom I suggested one day that perhaps they could use babywipes as an "interim"...longest interim ever but at least they were clean!

I know you have tried to address the issue with her if she's prepared to admit that she's a "Dirty Mare".

Perhaps you could try to press the issue further with her.

Does she like being a dirty mare? If so, why? And how would her parent's feel if they could see her now? Obviously, mum and dad wouldn't have bought her up to be afraid to wash herself.

Are there any reasons why she doesn't want a bath/shower? If she feels she is being watched by others or she's slipping in the bath/shower, that might make her feel less enthusiastic to get clean.

Are there any bath products that she particularly likes the smell of? If so you could see to it that she gets some either herself or someone picks them up for her. This might make her more keen to have a bath/shower.

Perhaps you could turn bath day into a mini pamper day - It goes without saying that she will need her nails cutting and/or checking after her bath while they are soft but if she has dry or hard skin on her feet, it could be a good excuse for a pedicure. Or she and your wife could invest in a face pack and have a bit of girlie time together, or even a new hair style day, even if she just wants a trim, it's better than nothing... the possibilities to spice it up a little are endless.
Welcome Tony,

When all else fails...........babywipes work a treat.

Take care
Unfortunately they dont when someone is unwilling to accept any care! My FIL has an ongoing skin problem, rash and calcified skin that itches & bleeds. He has prescribed creams and washes to use but refuses to use them. His carers and family have tried everything from bribes, humour to the blunt truth to get him to bath and he refuses and dresses early every morning invariably in dirty clothes to avoid carers and a suggestion of bath! He had a bath before Xmas, first one in 4 months and I doubt hes had one since. His carers are dedicated and caring but they cant force him. I am sure having a bath requires effort, there could be a fear of water, embarrassment and a million other reasons but reason doesnt come into it. His dirty clothes are removed from his room when hes asleep, unfortunately if he wakes and catches the carer a tug of war ensues over a dirty vest etc.
Sorry for such a negative response but some people wont be helped!
This is the problem, she is totally unwilling to cooperate and would rather put up with not being invited out for diner and day trips in the car, which are the only remaining pleasures in life she enjoys. As someone said, you cant force her to do something she does not want to do and has flatly refused to do. We estimate that she has not had a bath or shower for at least 3 and possible even more years. Her doctor even suggested that we lock our door so that she cant let her self in, or refuse to let her in but take her home in the car. We tried but it made no difference. We contacted the District Nurse and Social Services but there is nothing they can do.

My wife has frequently bought her new clothes but she either says they don't fit or simply refuses to wear them and prefers her old smelly kit.

She will walk for miles around the village where we live and in the summer she gets hot and sweaty. I once found her taking a walk with my aunt in the summer this year and I had to change position so that I was up wind the smell was so bad. It sounds funny I know but after four years its no joke any more.
I think you have tried all reasonable approaches, Tony. I can't see what more you can do. I guess refusing to wash or take a bath can be one way of exerting some kind of control. Seems a bit weird but there is usually a reason behind most human behaviours, unless we are very unwell. A psychologist would explore what she gets out of this and would then ask you to reflect upon what other ways might she gain the same benefit apart from not washing ? Usually for someone to change their behaviour there has to be something in it for them - if only just wanting to please others or 'fit in'.

Does this behaviour not have any negatives as far as she is concerned, eg not being allowed to be involved in certain activities which she would otherwise enjoy ?

Yes, at the end of the day you may have to accept things. We can rarely change others unless they want to change, I guess. ( People like to nag me sometimes but I wont share the details here Image

Best wishes and don't give up !

My mother passed away 12 years ago aged 88 but we had problems persuading her to have bath or shower. She did wash though, preferring to use basin/bowl of water, soap and flannel. She seemed to be scared of "so much water" (bath) and no way would she have coped with face getting wet or hair being shampood in the shower. She grew up at a time when not every home had hot & cold running water and certainly not bathroom/shower room as we do.

You mention that your mum walks around - are her feet in good condition? Do you have anyong she would listen to who might "recommend" a product for "our age group" eg all you need to do is soak feet for say 10 minutes and you will be "walking on air" (No mention of washing but maybe later on .........)

Sorry to hear about your mum. Our experiences with care homes has been extremely negative. Both local authority run and private in Enfield and Haringey.

They often do not follow careplans and certainly do not wash the residents despite putting on a show when families visit. When we brought her home, and gave her a shower - the water was black with dirt.

We had to remove our elderly relative and bring her home because she had deteriorated so badly there. The had treated her extremely badly. The Social workers were in effect spokespeople for the Care homes and the 'Community healtcare workers' rather than being advocates for the elderly resident.

She is actually safer in her own house. However I understand this is a difficult time for you and I hope everything goes well with you.
its so frustrating i have the same problem with my own mother who is only 68yrs.every time we leave the house i have to dowse her with deoderants and perfume.the only thing i managed to get her to use is wet wipes.
good luck
Many moons ago I was a social worker for the elderly. Bathing difficulties were very common, but pride tended to get in the way, unless approached tactfully. I would tell a fictitious tale about a lady or man I visited who said that he/she didn't have a problem with bathing but I arranged a bath seat to try for a couple of weeks, under no obligation. He/She could return it if they didn't like using it, but in fact kept it because they found, to their surprise, tht it was useful. This worked every time. My own mum now in her 80's,can only just walk, but she has a bath every morning, with the help of carers, thanks to a bath seat which operates with an air pump. It swings round so mum can sit on it, then the carers can help her put her legs over the bath. Then the seat lowers into the water, thanks to a pump, and the whole process is reversed at the end. I expect you mum just needs a bit of help in some way, but pride is in the way. Does her sister shed any light on her reluctance to wash?
84 posts