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How Do I Tactfully Handle Mom's Hygiene Situation?

Answered by Karen Garner

October 8, 2015

My mom is 89 and has Alzheimer's. She is currently living with my step father in independent living. Many times when I pick her up to take her to an appointment, her hair is unwashed or she is in need of deodorant. How do I tactfully handle this situation?

Hi Sue,

Thank you for writing. This is such a common problem. You mentioned your mom and step-father are currently in an independent living facility which could be part of the problem. Many times, these homes do not assist with personal hygiene past making verbal cues to remind residents to wash. As your mom's Alzheimer's disease progresses, she will need more assistance than just verbal cues and when this is the case, it might be time to look into getting her more help. If she isn't wandering or needing too much help, you can keep her in the assisted living home but hire an aide to come in a few times a week to help her with showering and hygiene necessities. There are many options. There should be a social worker at the home she is residing in that can go over what would work best for your mom and probably your step-dad as well. I am so glad she has you to make sure she is well cared for and healthy.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. October 21, 2015 at 11:48 am
    Posted by Deborah Randolph

    It will only get worse. In my opinion, your mom needs help with bathing and grooming on a daily basis. If you cannot take on this role, you will need to arrange additional help. My husband would never shower, shave, apply deodorant or even brush his teeth if I or his sitter did not help him do those things. It's so sad because he was the most impeccably dressed and groomed man before the disease overwhelmed him. I find that daily showers are a necessity because of his frequent accidents and other problems associated with toileting. We also use diaper rash ointment.

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