Now he won’t change clothes

Its the school holidays and dad is staying with me for a week while sis goes on a holiday with her family. Dad has stroke related dementia. I think his condition has gotten slightly worse. Previously we had trouble getting him to take a bath. Now he won’t even change out of his clothes.

We had taken him out to dinner on Sunday night for an early Father’s Day treat because its hard to get everyone together at the same time. After dinner, he came home with me. He slept in the same clothes he went out for dinner with. He wouldn’t change into his sarong even though I held the sarong out to him and persuaded him at least 3 times.

By Monday night, he was still in the same clothes. He also hadn’t removed his socks. “Pa, you need to change your shirt. Why don’t you wear this T-shirt which is more comfortable.” He shook his head stubbornly.

“Well, at least remove your socks Pa. You’ve been wearing it the whole day.” He shook his head again and said “I’ll wash it when I get home.” (to sister’s place) “You can’t do that because you’re going back only in a week’s time. I’m washing clothes tomorrow, Pa. Please change your shirt. Wear this T-shirt. Its more comfortable.” I persisted.

“No, I like this shirt.” he said. “Well, I like this shirt too. I bought it for you. Let me wash it first, then you can wear it again tomorrow if you like. You can’t be so unhygienic. You’ve got to change your clothes, Pa.” Now his expression turned defiant and he said “Don’t force me to change clothes.”

I let out a big sigh and walked away. What to do? I don’t know. He has not had a bath for 2 weeks now. Sister sms to inform us before we met for dinner. I had hoped to get him to take a bath while he is staying with me but I couldn’t even get him to change his clothes or remove his socks.

Its Wednesday now. He is still wearing the same shirt but at least he changed into his sarong after our conversation about the socks and shirt. I noticed he has removed his socks too yesterday. He wouldn’t take a bath but he would use a tissue to wipe his face and neck. He does this all day. Wiping with the tissue and rolling them into big perfect tissue balls made of tissues stuffed in more tissues. Sometimes he doesn’t wipe. He just rolls the tissue balls. I saw four maybe five balls in the bin yesterday. When I saw him doing this in the morning, I hurriedly went to get a warm towel for him to wipe his face. At least he didn’t reject that.

I’ve taken him to the bathroom before, brought his towel and turned on the shower only to have him tell me “You show me also no use. I won’t bathe.” Then I tried to get a pail of warm water and a towel and put it in his room for him and told him to wipe himself with that. He did not touch it.

Its very hard for us to manage him. He is our dad. We need to be firm with him but at the same time we can’t belittle him and treat him like a child. But what to do when he won’t take a bath for weeks? We have tried talking to him or tying the bath with occassions so far the occassions thing seem to work. “You have to bathe because we’re going out to…..”

I wish I knew a little bit more about how to handle patients with dementia. I wonder what goes on his mind. I wonder what he is thinking. I wonder what he is feeling.

Most of the time he is still alert enough to play with the kids and watch out for them. At other times he looks completely lost. He struggles with handling gadgets, not only gadgets but things like buttons, snaps, straps. Things that most of us take for granted like removing our shirt buttons or wearing our shoes can be difficult for him which is probably why he resists it I guess. And sometimes he does not know what to do next. “Eat/Sleep now is it?” he would ask.

He has good days and bad. On the good days, he will be like his old self again but then he will go into high gear wanting to do everything that he used to do. He would take a bath then and even wash the toilet! Go to the bank, the laundrette, and all the old places he used to go. Call big sister or my aunts up in the early morning or in the middle of the night to chat. It would be as if the months that passed in between did not happen for him. Once on a good day, he went to the laundrette to collect some clothes he had left there for washing 3 months ago on another good day. On those days it will be as if his brain is working overtime making up for lost time. He may not sleep for up to 24 hours scaring us and then after that he will sleep for the entire day and be back to his new quiet self. 

I feel as if I’ve lost half my dad after his stroke a few years ago which left him with dementia.

I’ve been too busy this school holidays to blog. I’ve been sick. First with some infection then now with a cold. Its so draggy this cold. The kids want to do every craft and lesson with mum during the holidays so I’ve been busy with that too because I promised them. We’ve made castles on a card, bracelets, rings, paper fans etc. Normally I would take pics of them and post them on my parenting blog but I just don’t have the energy or time to do that now. And then theres dad to watch too.

As usual my housework is down on my list of priorities so the house is covered with dust. I really must do something about that before I discover another rat. Blogging has also been pushed down to the end of my list. Oh well, there are other things that matter but I do miss visiting my friends in blogosphere. And then theres my exercises. I MUST do them for health’s sake not for beauty but I have lagged using my cold as an excuse. I WISH I HAD MORE TIME,  MORE HOURS IN A DAY! Fortunately I have an understanding husband who closes one or perhaps both eyes to the dust and helps me by packing food home for dinner more often. Poor dear. I’ll get on top of it soon. I’ll try my best.

Oh gosh this post is getting long and draggy like my cold. I’m just going on and on and on. It must be blog withdrawal syndrome. I should stop here.


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14 thoughts on “Now he won’t change clothes

  1. Hi MG, I can understand your feelings as my grandfather is having mild dementia too. He also didnt want to bath for 2 weeks and kept on arguing that he has already bathed.

    At one point, he pooed in the house and my mum had to clean up for him. Twice. My mum has been rather stressed over her dad’s issue and have to juggle to look after 4 children at the same time. So whenever she needs to run errands for my grandfather, I will try to help out, to take care of the kids. At least, she doesnt need to worry about this.

    So you have to take care of yourselves and ur dad, ur children, ur hubby …. everything needs you.

    Take care!

    Thanks for your words of encouragement Ling. Your mum is lucky to have a daughter like you. 🙂

  2. wow! reading ur entry is live watching a movie. as much as we want to care for our parent, do take good care of yourself too ya. will be praying for u and ur Pa. =)

    Thanks. Its just a week for me because dad stays with second sis but its just that its not very good timing because I’m not feeling well and the kids are extra demanding during the school holidays.

  3. MG,
    my mom has too dimentia, even worst than your dad maybe because she has Alzheimer disease since 4 years ago.
    later then if I have much time, maybe we can share this by email (if you want of course)

    Yes, we can share if we find the time.

  4. sorry to hear that. I could understand… my mum had cancer and during her last days, she was bed ridden and had problems understanding what’s happening around her.. hope you get through these trying times without too much challenges ya.. take care too

    My mum had cancer too but she passed on when I was little.

  5. Oh dear, oh dear…

    Pray for strength for you and patience. It must be realy tough what with the kids being on holiday as well!!

    Hope your health is doing better. You are such a great daughter and mother.

    Get those hourly cleaners to help you clean the house for the time being. Take it easy on yourself as well.

    Take good care my dear.

    My maid should be coming soon, hopefully with no more delays so I’ll hang on till then.

  6. I know how you feel. Stress and the turn in roles in relating to a parent. I cared for my ailing dad for 5 years before he passed way.

    He had kidney failure and chronic diabetes, almost blind, lost a leg and had a lot of depression. Diet was another complicated issue.

    Not so sure how to handle dementia either. Sorry can’t help you there.

    I’m sorry to hear about your dad. It must have been a very hard time for you.

  7. It sounds like you are doing your best. Keep on persevering. Its touching to read about your love for your father.

    Take some vitamin C and drink lots of water. Hope you get over your cold soon.

    Perhaps you could hire some cleaners to take care of your household chores?

    Vitamin C and lots of water. Okie dokie.

  8. Hey, take care. I hope your maid can come in sooner to relieve you of some of the chores or like Adino has mentioned, perhaps get some part-time help first?

    It’s not easy to take care of the elderly. I used to help with my grandma but at least, she didn’t have dementia.

    The maid should come this month, I hope.

  9. he wont change or bathe himself. why not u try doing it for him since the pail of water is already in his room? just wipe for him everyday better than nothing at all

    I wish it was more simple but there is the question of his stubborness as well as his dignity to preserve.

  10. Reading your dad’s story reminded me of my grandma who had Alzheimer. She did not want to take bath too. It can be very stressful. Hugss to you.

    Perhaps you can wipe him. Maybe he will feel refreshed and may later agree to take a bath.

    Take care,

    Good news! I managed to get him to bathe finally, that is after he pooed in his pants two days in a row. Nvm that. Its still good that he had his bath finally. 🙂

  11. I am touch by your love for your dad. Not easy to take care of someone with dementia but I guess is time to show our love for the years that they take care of us. You take care of yourself ya

    Yes, if we don’t care for our aged parents, who will?

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