How do I help Dad with his personal hygiene?

2 answers | Last updated: Aug 13, 2010
Jnevitt asked...

My parents live with me (Dad has Alzheimer's) and are in their 80s. What can be done about the smells?

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

Thank you for asking this delicate question.  Illness and smells are often part of caring for frail elders. 

Is this a question of personal care? Are they bathing? Parents often don't like to be bathed by their grown children.  Is there any way that you could get a personal care attendant to come to your home to help both of them.  Three days a week would be a good start.  She could also do their laundry and make sure the bedding is clean.  If your father has Alzheimer's he may not want to bathe.  If a professional home care attendant cannot coaxe him into bathing---you may have to wait.  If he sees your mother having a bath, he may want one too.

Then check the chairs. Is there a smell of stale urine? There could be leakage or accidents. You may have to completely clean the chairs and then put protection where they sit. Are your parents wearing pull ups.(adult diapers which are just like panties or briefs) 

Make sure that your parents have medical check ups. Some illnesses and certian smells go together. Be sure to tell the doctor of your concern.

Go to a medical supply store and tell them of your problem.  There are products to cut odor, not just cover it up. It is not perfect but very helpful for some conditions.

Be sure to air out their room, pillows and blankets as often as possible.  I hope that you will be able to get some help. The methods I am suggesting could be backbreaking work for one person. 

Community Answers

Linda w answered...

I have a problem with smells from my mother who has Alzheimers and wears depends. I use Febreeze air freshner and spray it in her bathroom and also in the trashcan she disposes of her depends in. My mother was refusing to take showers but I had the doctor write an order for the home health company in our county to come out and assess the situation and they sent a home health aide out three times a week and my mother would let her help her with taking a shower.They also recommended getting a shower chair that she can sit on. This service is covered by medicare so it does not cost you anything. I hope this will help you. I would also be interested in any suggestions from other care givers as to how to get rid of the odor from old depends.