New Caregiver - struggling with Hygiene issues

My MIL (77, advanced Parkinsons) moved in to our home a month ago. She was in an assisted living facility close to our home which was beautiful and clean and the nicest one we could find -- she hated it for 3 years. Was reclusive, refused to use the dining area, yada yada. Her long term care policy has run out and she couldn't afford to stay there any longer -- I wanted to find her a subsidized apartment, she begged and wore down my husband and we basically moved out of our bedroom (the only one with a master bath), moved upstairs next door to our teenagers and she is here now.

My problem is that her hygiene is bad. She refuses to hire a bath lady and says she can do it all herself, but she is not doing it. I've tried to be subtle, I'm trying to be kind to respect her dignity, but she has no sense of smell and my sniffer is working just fine. To complicate things, my husband and two teenage boys don't seem to think it's a strong smell. I thought I was going crazy until my daughter who lives out of state came in and when grandma wasn't looking held her nose and rolled her eyes. So maybe my daughter and I just have really sensitive noses -- I don't know. I just know that this is my home, and I almost want to cry everytime I walk through my first floor where she is living. I can't stand the smell (urine/b.o. smell). I'm trying to keep her room clean, I keep offering to do her laundry, change her bedding and she doesn't want me to do it more than once a week. I work part-time and have a home-based business which requires customers to come to my home for scrapbooking classes and my husband literally has to be in her room occupying her so that she will leave her door closed for the duration of my classes. She also sees nothing wrong with wearing the same pajamas for 3-4 days straight.

HELP!!!!!
Original Post
Hi Susie:

Welcome to the boards. Your mother is very lucky to have you - you have made such a big sacrifice for her!

I can certainly understand your concern with your mother's hygiene. It is not an uncommon problem. It is so hard to parent our parents. I do understand her unwillingness to have a bath aide but you may just have to insist on it. If she is stubbornly against that it may be that you need to establish a bathing time for her and stand over her. Let her know her choices and stick by your guns.

Meanwhile, check out Faith in Action @ http://www.fiavolunteers.org/ to see if there is one near you. Perhaps they can come sit with your mother while you are having your classes which would keep your DH from being the babysitter... It might also help your mother have a reason to get cleaned up if she has company once in a while. I hope this give you some help. Meanwhile, know we are here for you and wishing you the best of luck during these difficult times.

Hugs, Glenda
Hi, Susie.

Well, first I want to comment on your generosity to have your MIL in your home... and to move upstairs - you must be a very special and caring person to do that.

My mom has Parkinson's that's mostly controlled with medication, but she occasionally suffers tremors and "freezing." When she lived with us, and also a few times at assisted living, she expressed fear about falling in the tub.

Is your MIL a fall risk? If so, ask her Dr to "prescribe" for her assistance in the bath - something that has to be scheduled at least 2 or 3 times a week. Perhaps a home health nurse can come out and instruct the family how to help (just a thought).

The other angle is to "treat" her to a spa-like experience, where she is pampered - hair-styling, nails polished, etc... this is what worked for my mother.

In the meantime, light some candles and get some air freshener. Fix yourself a spa-bath and breathe.

Love n hugs,
Barb
Thank you, thank you -- I didn't come back to this website for awhile, things have gotten hectic here at home, but we have a home health nurse two mornings a week now who gives her a bath. It's only been a week since we started, but it's made a world of difference.
Susie,

I have the same problem with my mother. She only bathes once a week and rarely wears supportive undergarments. I get so grossed out at dinner having to sit across from her and eat while smelling her BO and looking at her boobs hanging down. I am completely disgusted. She has taken to using my 7 yr old daughter's headbands and just sticking her dirty shoulder length hair back. My mom doesn't get dressed for days on end let alone change pj's. She is severly lacking in the hygeine department. Her room also smells awful and I am always spraying febrese!

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