12 November, 2021 | 3 min read

Age Alone is Not the Cause of Changes in Appearance

If Mom or Dad used to be very particular about her or his appearance, but no longer seems to care about changing clothes or showering, this is a situation that cannot be ignored.

woman gazing out the window

Addressing a hygiene concern or offering to help with tasks such as bathing can be uncomfortable and emotional for both you and your loved one. You want to maintain your mom’s privacy, dignity and independence, yet you can’t ignore that something has changed.

There are many factors that can affect a person’s change in appearance. A more serious problem may be going on within. Take time to consider what may be the underlying cause with your loved one and address the issue before it leads to additional health concerns.

Consider these possible causes of changes in appearance:

  • Depression can cause people to lose interest in how they look. If your mom feels isolated or depressed about life or health issues, she may not care enough about her appearance. She should see a doctor, as depression is a much larger issue than cleanliness.
  • As we age, our senses often become less acute. We sometimes forget that the sense of smell and taste can diminish. Your mom may not be aware of a sweaty smell. Some gentle hints may help, but be sensitive and prepared for her to be slightly offended.
  • Memory can be an issue with hygiene. Days could go by and she just doesn't think of a shower or bath. Again, some gentle hints may help or put up a calendar with a note to shower on certain days.
  • It may be you, the caregiver. It could simply be that she is modest and doesn’t want your help with bathing. Try lining up a home support service to help with showers.
  • Home care is needed. A change in your parent’s appearance or hygiene is one sign that it may be time to assist your parent in looking for care options, such as personalized in-home care.