Aging Parents.
#1
Does anyone have experience caring for aging parents? Especially parents who are becoming increasingly senile? I need advise. The issue right now is bathing. Granny's becoming neglectful of her self care in regards to washing up... I understand this is a common issue. I remember my own grandma becoming a little well, stinky.  :( 

When it was my kids doing the no-bathing routine, I just laid down the law and told them to 'get their hieny in the tub!' But now that it's my dear m-i-l, this approach is less than desirable for a number of reasons. Most of all, I don't want to hurt her or cause her to lose her dignity. 

So what a respectful approach?
Oh my Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.--Fr Dolindo Ruotolo

Persevere..Eucharist, Holy Rosary, Brown Scapular, Confession. You will win.
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#2
Some senile people, and some elderly, are afraid of water.  I have read on the internet before, there are forums for caregivers, that some did not grow up bathing daily so for some reason they revert back to not bathing.  I suspect it also has something to do with overall fear of water, like not being a good swimmer when younger, and the sensation of water on the skin being unfamiliar now.  One forum in particular suggested sponge bathing may be more familiar and comfortable.
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I have been around the elderly but not a primary caregiver.  I have seen that pushing too hard causes the elderly to dig their heels in and refuse.  I have no answers about privacy except to keep some parts of the body clothed while sponge bathing the other parts.  Cleaning the private parts, well, there seems to be no good way to go about it, so it is recommended to get it done as quickly as possible.  I don't know if a bidet would help, perhaps one of those "Japanese, electronic, attached to the toilet seat" ones with the warm air after-shot...…..
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Good luck.  This is a very hard row to hoe and you are doing a very, very good thing.  I admire you.
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#3
Older people don't necessarily need to bathe everyday.  It can be taxing physically and the changes to their skin makes it less than desirable: their skin is too thin, dries too easily, and benefits from what little oils it still produces.  Obviously when they start to smell something needs to be done, of course.  

As mentioned by Mary, sponge baths can work.  They can be done in the shower or in bed if necessary.  It seems like a daunting task, but when I was in nursing school I was eventually able to knock one out in like 3 minutes.  If using a shower, try to get a shower chair to make life easy.  Have them sit down and you grab a stack of washcloths.  Wash their hair.  With only water, wipe their eyes from inner canthus to outer, then the rest of the face.  With a soapy rag, lather the arms and toss it after doing both armpits.  Do the chest and stomach with an emphasis on the underside of granny' saggy boobs (man do they get gross fast).  Toss the rag.  Then do both legs and toss.  Then the back, toss.  If possible, have her wash her own genitals - although frankly they can do a poor job and you'll be in UTI City in no time.  The preferred way is swipe one side, fold to clean surface, swipe the other side, fold again, then down the middle - front to back each time.  Toss it and then clean her backside last.  If you have running water, be rinsing the whole time.  If not, after cleaning each part, wipe down with a wet washcloth and toss it.

Have her do as much as she can throughout this process, as long as she's doing a thorough job.  The biggest danger she will experience from poor hygiene is a UTI, so keep that in mind.  And like I said, keep it to like 3-5 minutes.  Don't be afraid to blast through it.  It's better for everyone that way.
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#4
(11-12-2019, 11:50 AM)JacafamalaRedux Wrote: Does anyone have experience caring for aging parents? Especially parents who are becoming increasingly senile? I need advise. The issue right now is bathing. Granny's becoming neglectful of her self care in regards to washing up... I understand this is a common issue. I remember my own grandma becoming a little well, stinky.  :( 

When it was my kids doing the no-bathing routine, I just laid down the law and told them to 'get their hieny in the tub!' But now that it's my dear m-i-l, this approach is less than desirable for a number of reasons. Most of all, I don't want to hurt her or cause her to lose her dignity. 

So what a respectful approach?

I had to bathe my aged grandmother.  She was so far gone mentally that she thought I was her elder. 

There's a couple of considerations:

1) If it is body skin and not armpits or privates, then warm oil can be used to good effect.  Make sure the bathing area is nice and warm.  Then use whatever natural oil is within your budget (e.g., olive oil), take a small amount on your hand, rub them together, then massage the area you wish to cleanse.  It does not require full nudity to take care of arms, legs, neck, face, back, front, etc., as these can be done by exposing the area of attention a little at a time.  Once the massage action has lifted any visible dirt or debris, use a clean, warm, damp washcloth to wipe off any excess oil on the surface of the skin.  Don't rub too hard as you can damage thin skin easily.

2) If it is armpits, the sponge bath method works very well, just be gentle.

3) If it is privates, and your loved-one's mental faculties are not too far gone, you may wish simply to set up a semi-private bathing area, or use your bathroom, and without looking too much, assist her with cleaning herself by verbal encouragement.  With my grandmother, I put her in her shower stall with the curtain closed, reached inside to help her undress, and wet a washcloth, and rinsed it out for her every time she handed it back.  I did not look at her in the shower other than side glances to make sure she did not fall.  I held her hand several times when she acted unsteady or felt frightened by the circumstances. Make sure you don't use oils in cleansing the privates as I've heard those can facilitate UTI's in women.

4) As far as drying, I think it is pretty important to get moisture off the private areas, but not so important as to violate another person's modesty.  With my grandmother, I verbally encouraged her to chafe herself with a towel to absorb most of the moisture, but then to sit in the warm bathroom in a robe for awhile before getting dressed. 

5) During this time in the robe, my sister and I would help her put in her dentures and fix her hair and makeup.  For some people losing their mental faculties, it is very important to be consistent, so we did this for her comfort.  On the days when my father helped her get ready for the day, he would not do her hair and makeup.  I could tell the difference in her demeanor when she went to the breakfast table without the feminine affectations.

Most people do not know about cleansing with oils, and for the elderly, the prospect of becoming nude and standing under the spray of water can be frightening or at least unpleasant.  If you could build a bond of trust with her, showing her that bathtime can be a pleasant, dignified experience she may take the lead in the cleansing activities.  Not knowing what the mental situation is with your loved-one, it's hard to suggest how much of a role you should take.  However, if she is becoming inconsistent according to her previous grooming standards, but still well in control mentally, she may simply need a candid private conversation and offer of help.

I wish you the best.
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#5
Hair.
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the elderly are old enough that they often like a wash and set.  This means rollers and maybe pin curls.  Some, of course, have very short hair and this won't work.   Some used to do their hair at night and sleep on the rollers (can you imagine, but my mother did) and others did it during the day while the husband was at work, so IF you want to take this on, do whatever she is familiar with.    I would avoid a home perm unless she is really able to be still and cogent during the process.
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My mother showered every day but she had been doing that most of her life.  She went to a little shop down the way and got her hair washed and set once a week and she didn't smell at all, but I have seen others who really look like a shampoo is needed more regularly.  Each person is different.   But your MIL may be comfortable with the wash and set.  And doing her hair will make her look and feel "more like the old gal".  If she can tolerate the old, hard rollers, they go in faster and come out quicker.  Yes, I had to do my mothers hair when I was a kid, I even gave her home perms (yuck, gross, ouch!).
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Get her out of the house as often as possible, every day if weather allows.  Drive to the post office, go by a construction site, watch the children go to school (any children, any school)  anything to have a reason to go and get out.  Stop for a cheap cup of coffee or tea - all the Moms I used to know (my Mom was retired in South Florida so that is where most of my knowledge comes from) loved to go out for coffee.  Not Starbucks, just sit down in a shop for a cup of coffee.
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Fingernails.  If she used to polish them then try to continue, BUT.....make sure you keep them rather short and actually clean under the nails very regularly.  If you are washing her and she  is not soaking her hands/nails in water and soap, you will have to clean out under her nails regularly.  Trust me.  If polishing the nail is not what you want, then , if you can, use a bit of moisturizer on her nails and cuticles.  Also, you can consider a nail buffer.  It looks like a 2 or 4 sided nail file, has different grits to it and when you are finished you have no product on her nails but her nails look nice and pink and well cared for.  She may be familiar with buffing nails and she may be familiar with a French manicure with is very similar (the original French manicure is different from the modern one). I simply buff my own nails rather than polish.  You can buy the buffing thing at Walmart or Target or Kroger, a few dollars and lasts a very long time.     But again, clean out under her nails regularly.  Toenails are the same, but sometimes they get, well, crooked, and can be hard to clip. My  Mom was able to do her own but  my Grandma needed a podiatrist to get them cut.  Keep some moisturizer on her hands and feet - feet can crack and bleed and cause all sorts of health problems.
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One last thing.  Are you getting any breaks?  Does anyone else help you care for your MIL?  It is very, very important that you do not burn out and the only way to prevent that is for you to take breaks.  Someone needs to take care of you sometimes. too.  This needs to be a group effort.   And there are forums online for caregivers and when I was helping out I found those forums helpful for both information and moral support.
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#6
(11-12-2019, 11:50 AM)JacafamalaRedux Wrote: Does anyone have experience caring for aging parents? Especially parents who are becoming increasingly senile? I need advise. The issue right now is bathing. Granny's becoming neglectful of her self care in regards to washing up... I understand this is a common issue. I remember my own grandma becoming a little well, stinky.  :( 

When it was my kids doing the no-bathing routine, I just laid down the law and told them to 'get their hieny in the tub!' But now that it's my dear m-i-l, this approach is less than desirable for a number of reasons. Most of all, I don't want to hurt her or cause her to lose her dignity. 

So what a respectful approach?

You haven't said whether she's incapable of washing herself, or if she needs to *be* bathed. If the former, you could make out like you're wanting to spoil her by giving her a "spa day" once a week. Run a bubble bath for her, light some candles, play some music -- you know the drill.

If the latter, maybe presenting it as your helping her out and wanting to make her feel better might work. "You've just got to be feeling icky by now; I'm gonna help a sistah out!" Keep the lights low, and keep everything that isn't being actively washed *covered up* so she's never fully exposed. Older people tend to get cold more easily, so keep the room toasty warm. Maybe turning on a space heater in the area will make it all nicer.
 
Talk throughout the process and make the tone like none of it's a big deal in any way. Play some music or something so there's something else to focus on and talk about. Maybe asking her advice or seeking her opinion about something during it all would help her to know you're not being "condescending" or anything, that you respect her, etc.
T h e   D u d e t t e   A b i d e s
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#7
That's a good question. I think at this point she probably still could, but she just doesn't want to. I know she'll hate the idea of my helping her bath. Unfortunately her mind and body are both going downhill pretty fast though. That's something I must admit and come to terms with. Right now she hobbles along with a cane, but t makes me nervous. I'm gonna get a wheelchair probably over the weekend. And a baby monitor. Gosh, I never thought to save the monitor after the kids grew out of it. Didn't think I'd need it again. 
Let me explain the situation a little further. 
Previously granny had a walk in shower upstairs, but she never used it. However she did fine giving herself a sponge bath, so at that point I just decided to leave well enough alone.

More recently her mobility has become an issue, so we've needed to move her down onto the first floor. That only has a half-bath right now. In a few months (February?) she'll have a full bath of her own, because we're putting an addition onto the house. 

In the meantime I need to make do with this half-bath for her. n the meanwhile I'm gonna do my best to make the half-bath as conducive as possible to being washing up friendly. The heater, the hot curlers, oils and moisturisers, etc are all great ideas. Oh, and bath matts to catch the splashes. I'm going to make a big fuss about how we're fixing it up for her so she can enjoy it. Hopefully that'll do the job. 

This thread has had some really good advise. Thanks to everyone!!! I'm really glad I posted.
Oh my Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.--Fr Dolindo Ruotolo

Persevere..Eucharist, Holy Rosary, Brown Scapular, Confession. You will win.
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#8
I don't have any experience with this, but maybe installing a friendly bathtub with rails, a seat, and anti-slip mats would make her more willing to take a bath. Perhaps you could induce her to go to a local YMCA with a hot tub, a sauna or at least take a swim.
:monstrance:Deo Gratias et Ave Maria! :monstrance:
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A Dieu mon ame,
Mon arme au roi,
Mon Coeur a la dame,
Mon honneur a moi!
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#9
(11-13-2019, 05:20 PM)ServusDei Wrote: I don't have any experience with this, but maybe installing a friendly bathtub with rails, a seat, and anti-slip mats would make her more willing to take a bath. Perhaps you could induce her to go to a local YMCA with a hot tub, a sauna or at least take a swim.

Thanks, we're working on the bathroom. These damned permits that the town required have taken way too long: 2 1/2 years plus two visits to municipal court over the fact that we have had complaints from our dear neighbors over this addition. But we're stubborn that way; we've invested a lot into this already and we weren't going to walk away. We stuck to our guns and by the grace of God--so far-- we are victorious. 

She'll have a walk-in shower when the addition's done. But right now we can't even get her out of the house. I have to have the visiting nurse come to take care of her medical needs.....That's 'cause the contractor's demolished the back porch that's adjacent to the kitchen. There's just a huge pit and concrete there at the moment. And the front steps aren't something she can navigate. If she really needed to leave home, I'd have to call an ambulance at this point. 

The YMCA would be absolute torture for her, trust me. She'd hate that. Her back is severely twisted with scoliosis and one of her legs is sort of bent or twisted. She's incontinent too. Sorry, is this too much information? Maybe.

It'll be nice to be able to get her out of the house when the work is finished. She does like going out to lunch and getting her hair done. She's remarkably cheerful despite all her troubles, which is amazing to me. She's a trooper.
Oh my Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.--Fr Dolindo Ruotolo

Persevere..Eucharist, Holy Rosary, Brown Scapular, Confession. You will win.
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#10
(11-13-2019, 04:52 AM)MaryTN Wrote: .
One last thing.  Are you getting any breaks?  Does anyone else help you care for your MIL?  It is very, very important that you do not burn out and the only way to prevent that is for you to take breaks.  Someone needs to take care of you sometimes. too.  This needs to be a group effort.   And there are forums online for caregivers and when I was helping out I found those forums helpful for both information and moral support.

Thanks Mary. We're a large family so there's usually someone to cover when I need it. There are sacrifices to be made in large families, but there's blessings to be had there, too! Strength in numbers.
Oh my Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.--Fr Dolindo Ruotolo

Persevere..Eucharist, Holy Rosary, Brown Scapular, Confession. You will win.
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