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At wits end with smelly 82 year old mum! - Page 5 - Carers UK Forum

At wits end with smelly 82 year old mum!

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84 posts
With old age and blinkered eyesight, old people don't realise that they are shooting themselves in the foot! If only they would stop being so damned stubborn life would be so much nicer for all concerned. Old people seem to think that they can do whatever they like and it doesn't affect anyone else, if only that were true! You only have to read the tales here to realise that. I've spent the last 10 years sorting out stuff left by other people in the family who have died. My husband left me a workshop full of things I have little interest in, totalling about 40 tons. Some of it is valuable, but I will never be free of it, however my sons love it so I can't even sell it. I'm 60 and currently chucking away all my own "stuff" I really don't need any more. I'm already in the downstairs (garage) bedroom of my own house, having given my son and his partner the upstairs. I've designed it so that if I need anyone to come in and look after me, they can get in without disturbing the rest of the household. I've even had power sockets put in behind the wardrobes in case it becomes a lounge at a later date. When I die, I want my family to remember me for all the mad crazy things I've done with and for them, for the love I gave them and the meals and cakes I've cooked for them. NOT for the pure rubbish I've left them to tidy up! My only hobby is sewing, and I'd like all my sewing things to be passed on to whoever can put them to good use. My clothes can go to a charity shop. I do not want my children to go through what I have been forced to endure due to the stubborness of others.
With old age and blinkered eyesight, old people don't realise that they are shooting themselves in the foot! If only they would stop being so damned stubborn life would be so much nicer for all concerned. Old people seem to think that they can do whatever they like and it doesn't affect anyone else, if only that were true! You only have to read the tales here to realise that. I've spent the last 10 years sorting out stuff left by other people in the family who have died. My husband left me a workshop full of things I have little interest in, totalling about 40 tons. Some of it is valuable, but I will never be free of it, however my sons love it so I can't even sell it. I'm 60 and currently chucking away all my own "stuff" I really don't need any more. I'm already in the downstairs (garage) bedroom of my own house, having given my son and his partner the upstairs. I've designed it so that if I need anyone to come in and look after me, they can get in without disturbing the rest of the household. I've even had power sockets put in behind the wardrobes in case it becomes a lounge at a later date. When I die, I want my family to remember me for all the mad crazy things I've done with and for them, for the love I gave them and the meals and cakes I've cooked for them. NOT for the pure rubbish I've left them to tidy up! My only hobby is sewing, and I'd like all my sewing things to be passed on to whoever can put them to good use. My clothes can go to a charity shop. I do not want my children to go through what I have been forced to endure due to the stubborness of others.
Of course I am sorry that you have had such a negative experience and you have every right to feel angry about your own family but I really do not think that you can apply your personal experience of older family members to all older people, in fact it is rather insulting to both older members of this board and to the older people for whom some of us care. I, for one, do not recognise the following in either my husband or my mother, neither do I recognise it in other older members of my family, including my late father]With old age and blinkered eyesight, old people don't realise that they are shooting themselves in the foot! If only they would stop being so damned stubborn life would be so much nicer for all concerned. Old people seem to think that they can do whatever they like and it doesn't affect anyone else, if only that were true! You only have to read the tales here to realise that.[/quote]

Stereotypes are just that, stereotypes, and bear little relationship to the complex reality of each individual and who knows how any of us will behave when we are old and frail, I intend to behave disgracefully but then I am fortunate in not having children who think that they have the right to control my behaviour Image .
I went to her bungalow at lunchtime today, but she was out and most likely wondering the streets, at her sisters or steaming on the bus to the neighbouring town.
I wrote her a message on the note pad she leaves on the table for that purpose, there are 2 note pads and both are almost full of my messages from the past 12 months. After she reads them she ticks them off or lets me know where she has gone. I wrote asking her to have a bath so that we can take her out for a meal on her birthday next Wednesday. When I called again at 6.30pm she was out, but had been back at some point as the message had been removed from the note pad and was nowhere to be found. So I wrote the message again and added a copy to the white board in the kitchen. On past performance she will most likely sulk for a few days and then turn up at my house as if nothing has changed. Cheerio.
I absolutely agree, stereotyping and compartmentalising folk just does not work. My mother’s 81 year old sister is the exact opposite and while I am not sure how often she washes, she never smells bad and is always dressed nicely.
I visited her bungalow twice yesterday and she was out both times. She turned up at 6.45pm to find me throwing out 4 rotting apples from her fridge and cleaning and bleaching the black mould from fridge base and boxes.
To cut a long and tiring story short, she told me the reason that she did not bath was because she was afraid of being in the bath when someone came to the house. Although she acknowledged the grass cutters had already been in morning to cut front and back lawns, so there was no one else to come. After much deliberation, reasoning and pleading, I finally got her to agree to take a bath and my wife would stay with her to make sure she would be safe. I rang her this morning at 8.30am to remind her to switch on the hot water for an hour so that when my wife arrived she would only have to run the bath and make sure it was safe. As I expected, she had changed her mind and used the excuse that she was about to go visit her sister so she would take the bath tomorrow instead. I kept calm and said I can’t discuss it now as I needed to drive my son to school and hung up. On my return, I rang her sister and she confirmed that she had not made any arrangement with my mother to call so early in the morning. This is the final straw and she is defiantly not allowed in my house or car until she has a bath.
I don't know what to suggest bit I understand a bit how you feel. When My Dad moved up he lived with us for a bit. He had not had a shower or bath for a long time and he did smell! My son found it particularly difficult as he is very sensitive to smells and things. I know his carer has quite a battle with him to get him to shower weekly (which is essential really to avoid infections as he has a catheter). It's one of the reasons he wants to move out of sheltered housing as he thinks that he won't have to shower or bath when he's in the bungalow!
Hi Tony,
I'm wondering how you're getting on with this thorny problem. I've made some progress with my mother and thought I'd post an update.

The shower was installed and sealed just before Good Friday. The sealant had to be left a good 24 hours to dry properly, then my sister arrived for a visit and was the first one to use the new shower. She was very impressed with it and was encouraging Mum to use it but Mum was resisting.

I cunningly extracted a promise from Mum that the next day, after my sister had returned home, she would have a shower. The next day arrived, but Mum was resisting with every excuse she could think of. She hadn't had a bath in months and hadn't washed her hair for about 3 weeks. I took her into the bathroom and showed her the controls and how gentle the warm water was. I showed her the stool and the grab rail and assured her I would be outside the door whenever she needed me. Still she refused. I took her into the bedroom and we sat on the bed. I cajoled and tried every argument I could think of to persuade her. I said it was a health issue and I could not let it go on any longer, then said that I would not leave until she'd had a shower. She said "You have to go to work this evening." I said, "I'll ring them and explain my elderly parent is ill. I have all the time and patience in the world. I will wait 4, 6, 8, 10 hours or HOWEVER LONG IT TAKES until you cave in, so please just co-operate." She was shocked at this tactic. I then got a vest out of her drawer and asked her to take her top off and put that on for some privacy. She said, "OK, I'll change my underwear but I'm not going in the shower". I said - "we'll see". Once the vest was on (which was long enough to cover her nether regions too), I reached underneath and unhooked her bra...that was when a large pile of dead flakey skin fell out of it onto her lap. Image She was really shocked and said "What's that?!?" I explained it was her dead skin, all collected in her bra due to her not bathing or washing it away. She fell silent, took off the rest of her clothes then got in the shower. From start to finish the persuasion took 90 minutes. The shower only took 10 minutes. I was able to help her and spray the water in all the hard to reach places without her being totally naked. When she stepped out I wrapped a big towel around her and gave her a big hug, told her how proud I was of her for trying out something new and frightening to her, and said I hoped next time she would not be so worried about showering.

She has now agreed to take a shower every 2 weeks. Time will tell, but I feel that together we have jumped a massive hurdle. At times I felt like I was psychologically bullying Mum a bit, and I really hated having to do it, but feel it was the right thing on this occasion. Afterwards I dried her hair and made her a coffee then she sat in her cosy dressing gown relaxing, and agreed she felt better. A good result. Image

The next day when I called round she had got dressed and seemed quite happy. She said she didn't actually enjoy the shower as sometimes she felt a bit chilly (though when I turned up the temperature she complained it was too hot). I guess she would always prefer soaking in a bath to having a shower, but she was doing neither and the bath had to be changed for a shower cubicle because my father can't climb in and out of the bath anymore. I am thinking of getting some extra heating for the bathroom (it only has one small radiator) so that may make it cosier for her next time. Unfortunately Dad has now been admitted to hospital with pneumonia and a urinary tract infection so that is something else to worry about, but just thought I'd share my story with you as it shows that sometimes taking a tough line can pay dividends. Good luck to everybody having similar issues with their elderly parents.
A very good result, well done Image
Thanks Myrtle. I find all this stuff a bit of a moral minefield, because in a way I think that people have a right to be dirty if they want to, but on the other hand when their hygiene is neglected for months there are health issues to consider too and letting her get a skin infection would not be doing her any favours. For me it's a balancing act. I think some people would say I crossed a line, while others would say I was being cruel to be kind and the end justified the means. In any case I'm just hoping I won't have to go to those lengths again.
There is dirty and then there is putting your health at risk. having had such a good experience this time, next should be much easier as you can remind your Mum how good it felt Image
84 posts