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If only he would at least bathe regularly... - Carers UK Forum

If only he would at least bathe regularly...

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
I am writing from Australia - can't find any similar forums here.
I am caring for my Dad who is 94 and has Aspergers. His behaviour is very difficult, the tiniest thing like filling in a form can involve an hour or so's debate; he alone knows best;he has particular ways of doing everything, all of which are strange if not bizarre. He was always like this but now age has made him worse.
He is very deaf but will not have a hearing aid.He will not go into care as he would have to pay, therefore I have to give up my job and income to look after him. He tries to do all sorts of jobs around the house and yard and I have to try to catch him in time and stop him.
But perhaps worst of all - he rarely bathes, he gets very smelly, doesn't change his clothes unless confronted and forced.It would not be so bad if he could at least not be personally offensive. I have to cut his hair and it is just dreadful.
I am 56 and I see my life disappearing in front of me. I miss out on so much while other women my age are out doing things and even meeting new men! I have given up on that one! Just a holiday would be nice, but of course he would not go into respite.
I don't have children but if I had I would never put them through this torture, I would willingly go into care.
Hi Rosie,

I sympathise with you over the bathing issue as had the same problem with mum who had alzheimers. She thought she had washed and was wearing clean clothes every day. The bath or shower was a struggle until we made it an everyday part of the household routine. On the odd occasion mum would be up and dressed in the very early hours and once dressed would not undress to go in a bath. To ensure she had at least clean clothes every day we used to swap the pile of worn ones for clean ones after she was in bed, and do the same with the nightie once she had put it under the pillow it would later be swapped for a clean one. She had identical underwear and similar dresses so was never sure they had been tampered with! Might be worth a try!

Take care
Hi Rosie,

I am also a childless single woman in her 50s looking after Dad - but I do not have the added difficulty of Asperger's.

On the bathing, are you certain your Dad feels safe when bathing? At 94, he may have difficulty getting out of the bath sometimes, so is frightened he will get stuck. I guess he is not going to feel able to tell you this - I find my Dad does not say anything about even easily solvable difficulties he is having, until he is desparate. Perhaps get a seat or even lift for the bath, which he would have to use to get his money's worth from it? Any opportunities to offer to run him a bath, saying something like 'You will feel better after a nice warm soak'?
He,he! Well, Cotula - actually Dad has never cared much for his bath, the naughty man! He grew up in rural areas of Australia where there was no running water so Iguess they got into the habit of not bathing every day.
I have taken all precautions and made his bath as safe as possible, so he is not at much risk. The fact is that he just doesn't enjoy it! Very odd - I love to get in and make myself fresh, but he thinks it's silly. I know there are many others like him, I think it is fairly common with their generation - a bath was regarded as a luxury I guess.
He is fond of saying " You just want me to wash myself away" - I tell him, just get in there and do it, old man - he loves insubordination!
Ah, I see! Different situation altogether from what I envisaged. Perhaps you have to take his clothes away, like Meg, but not give any back until he has bathed/showered! Of course, you might have a worse problem developing then ...
Hi rosie,

Great to hear from someone on the other side of the world. We have been in touch with Carers Australia who have a great campaign at the moment to get carers up the political agenda, something we at CArers UK are constantly trying to do.

This is a great site http://www.ifyoudontcare.com.au/
Hi Rosie

Interesting that your Dad has a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome at such a great age: very few people over 50 have this diagnosis in the UK and most of those have been diagnosed in the last 10 years, it seems. When was your Dad diagnosed?
Charles47 - I have always known that Dad was different - suffered a lot as a child, our whole family did - about 7 years ago a very perceptive family doctor used the term, at the time I didn't know anything about it so I put it out of my mind.Since then my brother and a cousin have been diagnosed; a nephew is bipolar;another cousin has a mental disorder the nature of which I am uncertain;one of my uncles was certainly "strange" - the list goes on. Dad appears to be a fairly typical Aspegers - did very well in his chosen profession - agricultural science of a very high order - but he hated the administrative side of it that he was forced into, and found it torture. He really has no idea of what goes on with other people at all! Two years ago, his behaviour became so disruptive that I was forced to quit my job to take charge of the situation - that was when I sought help from our local hospital - anxiety is a big issue with Aspergers sufferers and he was anxious in a big way.
Since I've been his carer, he's calmed down considerably although we still have flare-ups - he can be very aggressive. It has not been pleasant for me and my income has plummeted, but I hope to re-enter the workforce once he has passed away. I should think that my experience will come in handy somewhere!
My dad was 92 and didnt like having a bath , he preferred a flannel wash down.
The important thing for most people with an autism spectrum disorder like Asperger Syndrome is routine. Personal hygiene can be an extreme part of a routine, leading to obsessive cleanliness, or it can be ignored. Sounds like your father ignores personal hygiene. There may be sensory reasons for not liking a bath - the noise of the water, the feel of the water on the skin are some examples of this - or it may be that he sees personal hygiene as something to do for other people - and other people are not on his radar. Or it may be something else. He may not even know himself, or be able to put it into words.

With small children, it is possible to help them to change their habits, but I doubt you'll have much joy changing your father's now! As you say, the habit of not bathing regularly probably developed through water shortages and the sensory issues I've just mentioned may have seemed like torture to him - so he avoided it.

Perhaps it might be worth asking him about his childhood and - as part of that - how often he had a bath? It may not be as often as you'd like, but you would at least have a baseline to work from!