Question: My mother lives in a great assisted living home. Right now we are having problems with her bathing and changing clothes. Do you have any suggestions?
Dr. Amy: It sounds like you need to start by figuring out why your mom isn’t bathing and changing as much as she used to. There could be a number of reasons. Depression, loss of sense of smell, fear of falling, and memory loss are all possibilities. I encourage you to talk to the doctor and have your mother checked out. If she is depressed, she may just not feel motivated to keep up with personal hygiene. If she is losing her sense of smell, she may not be aware of the need for a bath or a change of clothes. At the same time, we lose muscle mass every year. So if you mom hasn’t been working at building muscle, she may be unsteady on her feet and lack the strength to bath herself with confidence.
Once you understand why your mom isn’t bathing, you may decide you need additional help—from someone who is trained to deal sensitively with bathing and changing older adults. Every assisted living home provides a different range of services. Talk to the manager to explore options. Your mom's home may be able to provide this service. Otherwise the manager should be able to make recommendations and put you in touch with reliable local homecare support.
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