I live in Vermont and am the oldest child of my 88 year old mother with AD and an 87 year old father who is her primary caregiver. They live independently near my brother who is very available and helpful but not always that insightful (you know this story).
I try to visit them every 3-4 months to check in and make sure they are doing OK and deal with all the little issues that seem to pile up.
They are refusing outside assistance although I continue to recommend getting even minimal services in the home (housekeeping, etc) and hiring a GCM is out of the question. They are very private people who are determined to take care of themselves.
I plan to visit in May and the biggest issue for my dad right now is getting my mom to buy new clothes.My mother was always immaculate and somewhat of a clothes horse but now she refuses to buy anything new. Her clothes are stained, worn and not the most appropriate at this stage of her life.Note: Real names and locations have been removed in the above for privacy purposes.
Thank you for your kind recognition of my input on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room. It really makes my day to know that what I write gets read, and can help people. My mom had it, and I do this to honor her legacy as well, so she’s smiling too. Thanks for that.
Now on to your question. It’s probably too difficult for your mom to make choices from a number of clothing options anymore. That’s why she wears the same things over and over. It’s not stressful to her. Also, chances are that by this time in the disease, that she literally can’t see the stains, etc…. Plus, I’m guessing your dad is not the world’s best laundress. So, these are my thoughts
Find out from your dad the outfit or 2 outfits that your mother puts on the most. The color, the style, the size, the manufacturer. Have him take a picture of them if he can and send it to you.
Every night thereafter, dad sneaks in after she is asleep, and takes the days clothing and puts it in a (laundry) bag somewhere in the house where mom doesn’t go or won’t see it. (behind something else?)
Do one of two things: Have a dry cleaner in the area come pick it up say twice a week, clean it, with some of your fathers clothes if necessary, and drop it off (in boxes if necessary) to somewhere in the house she doesn’t go (the garage?) make these arrangements with the cleaning company. Most will do this, for an extra charge of course.
Or make a “gift” of a housekeeper to come over for a few hours twice a week to do the laundry, light cleaning, etc… It’s your gift to them- you are paying the person. You want to do this for them, you can’t help in any other way.
Dad, please accept the gift for my (your) sake!
It will make me feel better, like I’m contributing. Really work him over! And I’ve already found just the perfect person! Make it like it’s a done deal.
If it were me, instead of hiring just a cleaning lady, I’d go to one of the home care agencies and hire a CNA (certified nurse’s aide). She can and will do cleaning and laundry, but can also check to see if mom and dad are taking their medicine correctly, take their blood pressure and temp if they look sick, etc…
When you contact the home care agency just tell them that your parents are resisting, but would easier accept someone who would be called their cleaning lady, at least in the beginning.
The company will understand completely- trust me on this one. The company will come over to do an assessment, just tell your parents it’s part of the cleaning service, to make sure that they will get a person they will like!
You’ll need for the person to come say for 4 hours a day, 2 days a week (at least to start). 4 hours is the normal minimum hours a day those companies need to be able to send someone. Perhaps she can make lunch for them too!
Let me know how that works out.
is a Geriatric Care Manager who specializes in helping families with Alzheimer’s and related dementias issues. She also trains caregivers in home care companies, assisted livings, memory care communities, and nursing homes in dementia specific techniques for best care of dementia sufferers. ThirdAge Services LLC , is located in Dallas, TX.
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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room