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(10 Posts)
CharlieandLolaCat Thu 20-Apr-17 22:51:47

Wondering if anyone can help at all.

My mum has dementia and lives at home with my dad. She has been steadily declining for a few years and one of her symptoms seems to be that she is constantly cold. As a result she wears several (slightly random) layers. The problem is that she goes up to bed before my dad and he goes up when he's finished downstairs (he does all the cleaning up etc) and by the time he gets upstairs he says she's squirrelled away her clothes. This means the following day she puts the same stuff on. Every day.

We (my sisters and I) have tried to talk to him about it and it seems to be the one thing he can't seem to get his head around. I get where he's coming from to some extent, they have gone through a complete role reversal and I understand it must be hard but equally he needs to deal with it. However, I am also wondering if there is any point in my saying something to my mum (as kindly as I can - although I am struggling to think of a way that doesn't just sound brutal). I am worried that I will just upset her and that she won't really then remember why she is upset. One of her other symptoms is paranoia that we're talking about her, not helped that she often can't keep track of the conversation and I worry that this will feed that.

Having written all this down I realise I am asking an impossible question as no two people would react the same way to the conversation and no two people with dementia are the same, I suppose I am just worried that it is another step in the journey. That said, if anyone does have any suggestions I'd be really grateful.

PurpleWithRed Thu 20-Apr-17 22:57:49

What's the actual problem here? She's wearing the same dirty clothes every day? Can he lay out clean clothes for her to wear in the morning when he goes to bed? Does she ever shower or bathe? Can he nick her dirty clothes then and swop them?

CharlieandLolaCat Fri 21-Apr-17 09:04:26

Thank you Purple.

She is still showering but then puts the same clothes back on. Dad seems to have a mental block about this and just doesn't seem to be able to get her clothes from her before she has put them away (and she isn't putting them anywhere logical) and then she seems to get up and ready while he's still faffing around.

I wonder actually if we should instead work with mum to sort out 7 outfits that she can wear for the week and that might give her a bit more structure.

Sorry, as I say, not really sure what I'm asking but writing it down has really helped me to think it through.

Sunnymorning20 Fri 21-Apr-17 09:14:11

Hello, I have experience of this as MIL has alzheimers. She is in care now (5.5 years) so is very well down the road but we had this issue with her and as she lived alone there was no-one to stop her wearing the same clothes every day.

What we did was seriously thin her clothes right down. Only have in the wardrobe the bare minimum of clothing she needed to wear (this was a woman that had 3 double wardrobes of clothes to choose from). We grouped them into days as you suggested and for a while this worked as she took the days out and wore them. It wasn't always plain sailing as some days she'd hide the dirty things away and we would have to hunt for them in order for them to be washed.

I think you are going to have to try and get your dad on board with this as the intervention needs to be as she's undressing at night and the clothes need to be removed then.

Unfortunately though as with this blasted disease nothing worked for long and she simply forgot that the next days clothes were ready in the wardrobe. At this point she was starting to get carers in a few times a day as we were all working and they would come early and sort fresh clothes out each day. It needs another person to manage the situation i'm afraid. Good luck, its an awful disease. I can recommend the forums on the Talking Point Alzheimers website, so many people who are going through the same thing.

CharlieandLolaCat Fri 21-Apr-17 09:17:45

Thanks Sunny, she does have a lot of clothes and wears literally only 4-5 tops (mostly at the same time) and 1 or 2 pairs of trousers. Thinning it out might help.

Dad does need to take responsibility my sisters and I all work full time and simply can't do it.

You're right, it's a terrible disease and I just hate what it's doing to her.

I will check out Talking Point as well, thank you.

taptonaria27 Mon 08-May-17 21:50:08

My dad is similar - lots pans lots of laters, none of which are washed often he look so unkempt it's heartbreaking as he was always very smart. His bed also has every blanket and quilt in the house on it.
Why do they get so cold? Is it simply not eating and moving enough?
The rest of us find the heat in the house unbearable yet he has umpteen layers on

pansydePotter Tue 09-May-17 16:49:31

Does your mum have carers? My mum did this and my Step-father did nothing about it even though he had no mental health problems. When I visited I would take her upstairs and say. "Oh look you have spilt something" and then get her changed. Sometimes she would have no underwear on and quite random order of clothes. I spoke to her carers and some were willing to help her change her clothes but not others.

helpfulperson Tue 09-May-17 18:09:46

I would ask you self why it is a problem. It is like dealing with toddlers - pick your battles. Honestly does it really matter if she wears the same clothes every day. Presumably it isn't that she smells so much your father finds it unbearably. The other tactic I have used is to get them to change because you are putting a washing on and just need those few things to make up a load.

rizlett Tue 09-May-17 18:14:37

Would it work (assuming you can get your mum to agree) to have 5 tops and skirts/trousers exactly the same as long as introducing new clothes into the mix doesnt make the whole thing more difficult.

AlabamaShakes Wed 10-May-17 22:21:56

Try and seek out a Carers Education Workshop near you OP. The Alzheimer's society or a service within older people's mental health (NHS) facilitate these sessions and they are extremely useful. They give tips on managing challenging behaviours (not changing clothes is very common) and go into detail on changes in the brain.

It's also dementia awareness week next week so seek out some drop in workshops/speakers in your local community.

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