New to Elder Care.

realitykraftFebruary 23, 2006

I posted several months ago about my mother in law moving in with us.

We brought her to our apartment after Christmas. I cannot say her move was totally agreed upon, but she really adjusting quite well. Each day she is here I feel like we made the right decision. She struggles with just about everything.

Bridget is about 83 years old, 20 years a widower. She has diabetes and loads of various aches and pains. And she has had a stroke and a heartattack- both mild.

Some questions-

Is it normal to take shower only once a week? I beg and plead but she hates doing it. She has a shower bench, and we help her in.

She sleeps as much as our dogs- if you don't have dogs, they are awake only 8 hours a day. Is this okay?

We are settling into a routine with her, and really at least for now it is not too hard. We decided to take one of her two cats. I think that made her feel happier- the other cat went to her daughter. So for now Goodnight.

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Hello realitykraft and welcome!

As far as your MIL being tired: this is not abnormal in the elderly, especially for those who have heart issues as yours does. Their bodies are wearing out, basically. And constant pain is very tiring, also. You don't indicate what kind of meds she is on. Certain medications cause drowsiness. If this is something you're concerned about, you should bring this up to her physician.

As far as taking a shower once a week, that's a tough call. Does she smell? If she is incontinent, it is imperative that she bathe that area particularly on a daily basis, to prevent the skin from breaking down. There are some diseases, such as Alzheimers, in which the elderly do not want to wash or don't recognize the need for it, etc. Have you investigated getting services in your home for her, such as a home health aide? This person could come in to bathe her a couple of times a week. If she is not exerting herself and not moving around much, she isn't getting dirty so a daily shower might not be necessary. But again, if there are any incontinence issues, it's really important to keep that skin clean.

I take it she is mostly housebound. Do you both work all day? If so, does she have any kind of stimulation (besides TV) at home, such as phone calls or visitors? Not having any outside contact can result in depression, of which a symptom can be excess sleepiness. Also, you mention she has diabetes. Is that under control with meds and diet? If not, that can make her sleepy also -- kind of like if you eat a big plate of pasta and then are ready to fall asleep an hour later. It's an overload of carbs -- your blood sugar spikes and then drops.

There are a lot of variables that could produce the results you're seeing, but I would definitely encourage you to contact her doctor and your local Council on Aging (if you haven't already) to investigate getting some in-home services for her.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 11:16AM
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We Americans are known for our daily bathing obsession. ItÂs not uncommon for the older generation to shower far less frequently. If youÂre raised by people who grew up without indoor plumbing, you werenÂt taught to bathe often. Neither of my parents ever showered more than once or twice a week. I wouldnÂt worry about it unless sheÂs incontinent or has an aroma. Older skin often has such trouble retaining moisture that frequent bathing may cause problems. If it worries you, ask her doctor about it.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 11:31AM
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When Mother was in a SNF last summer for 7 weeks, and then when she had Assisted Living, in both cases, bathing was scheduled twice a week. So try that for a good compromise, unless, as Lasershow said, she is incontinent.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 1:15PM
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How kind of you to care for your MIL.

You MIL may not like showers, my mother always hated them, and as she descended into her dementia, bathing became a terrible problem. We finally realized it wasn't getting clean that was the problem, it was the shower. We had an aide come into the apartment to help her take a bath. When she started Adult Day Care, they had a step-in bath tub and she got a bath there two or three times a week. Same thing in the SNF, as long as she could take a bath, they had no problem keeping her clean.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 8:26PM
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I cared for my mil for almost 6 yr. The last 2 yrs she could not shower-I was afraid she would fall and she also did not want to. She was urine incontinent because of a cancer surgery, so it was very necessary that she bath.
I got so that I greeted her in the morning before she got out of bed. I helped give her a sponge bath. I could also gave her a back rub and lots of touching, which I think the elderly do not get enough of. I had rubbersheets and used heavy thick towels to collect the water that I would let flow over her back and hips.
She had hair that she could sit on and I used the no-rinse shamphoo on it once a week.
Go slow at invading her private part of her life, but keep pushing until you get it to where you can live with it and hopefully she can too.
Mil has been gone years ago right about now.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 9:03PM
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We were able to add customized grab bar to my parents' shower. It was also recommended by a occupational therapist to go to a pool/patio store to buy a simple strapseat poolside chair with arms for the shower, rather than those bath benches. It's worked extremely well for both. They each take 1 or 2 showers a wk with caregivers assistance. Using a sponge or puff on long handle is helpful equipment too. Mom likes to have the small heater running before she gets in & of course when she gets out to prevent a chill.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 6:11PM
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I don't think the bathing once a week thing is that big a deal. Remember, Europeans laugh at us Americans for being bathing obsessed. Given that she is 83, I would assume she has some european throw-back that motivates her to do this. In fact, I think we are bathing obsessed as well. I would cut her some slack on this point. Not everyone has to think like we do, and she is still a thinking human.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 1:32AM
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Hey, I don't shower more than a twice weekly, either. Cut the old girl some slack! I grant you, there is a bidet in our bathroom.

But Mum "bathes" 3 times/wk. when the "bath lady" comes. I help her bathe only when/if there is an "emergency" or the "bath lady" wants/needs a day off.

I used to have a terrible time getting her into the shower/bath, too! I hired an aid to come do it... no way for Mum to fuss and refuse! Get this: she LOVES bath day now... . Know what I think? I think bathing was too much of ME ("controlling", always there, "helping"). HIRE IT OUT, kiddo. I make sure there are lovely soaps, shampoos, burshes, "scrubbies", lotions, talcum powder... . And someone else is in charge of the bath, the hair, the wardrobe... . It's Mum's "private time".

Works slick; HIRE IT OUT! this is what aids are for and this is their specialty. Pay them well and treat them like the esteemed member of your household they become!!!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 8:32PM
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My 100 year old mother in law has a shower once weekly, the same day she takes her fosamax. I wash her "privates" or what I call her diaper area every day, and if she has an accident, then as needed.
I use the Walmart "Equate Skin Cleanser" equivalent to "Cetaphil" for the daily washings. Every morning I mix a squirt of it with warm water to the basin and with wet washcloth go over her buttocks & inner theighs. Then, using a fresh section of the cloth, wipe from front to back over privates, twice.
I chose the product because it doesn't need to be rinsed off. I do this while she is standing at the toilet.
She is not especially incontinent, but she does wear the Walmart brand of depends. IE diapers for adults, but luckily for me she uses the ones that can be pulled up like underpants.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 6:43PM
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Showers can be hard on the elderly and on the caregivers as well. As far as peri-care, we installed a grab bar over the tub in the primary bathroom this one client used. It was right next to the toilet. We called it the "Bend Over Bar". It took a while, but through repetition, she finally learned to get up from the toilet, grab on, and bend over. We'd use "fiblets" to help with cooperation - like, Ohhhh your skin is a bit red. Let's put some soothing lotion on. We kept gloves, wipes, sprays, tonics, etc. within reach. After a while, it became a very natural course for her to just get up and "bend over".

Even though she is incontinent and showered once weekly, she has the skin of a baby and no odors. Now she frequently snaps at us - "get in there better". LOL. It worked well for us.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2006 at 9:47AM
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