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Mom used to be very particular about her appearance, but no longer seems to care about changing her clothes or showering. This is a situation that cannot be ignored.
Addressing a hygiene concern or offering to help with tasks such as bathing can be uncomfortable and emotional for both you and your parent. 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 poor hygiene:
- 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.
Consider Live Well at Home by Eskaton, which offers personalized in-home care. They are flexible and available 24 hours a day. In-home care and companionship may be just the assistance your mom needs to help her maintain a happy, healthy lifestyle, and may provide you reassurance and peace of mind.