Ok, you got me! Haute couture might be a stretch from clean and seasonal appropriate clothing! Hygiene is self explanatory and we will get to that.
My mom has always had several wardrobes, daily, yard work, Sunday dress, evening clothes, sports…
Mom admitted several years back, prior to moving in with us – that she no longer can put clothes together. Probably a tough thing to face, walking into a beautifully decorated closet and having a sense of loss. This is how we improved that. I was visiting that summer, we emptied the closet. Then the fun started! I put together outfits, laid each one out on the bed and took a picture. We added accessories too. This was a ton of fun for both of us. At the end of the day, I sent all the pictures from my phone to CVS to be printed. Once we had the pictures, I punched a hole in an upper corner and put them on a huge metal ring. we hung it in her closet as a “go to”. Geriatric Garanimals! Mom had her confidence back. Mission accomplished. (This is no relation to the Garanimals clothing line of the 70s, just an unveiled reference.)
Although we have a new ring with updated pictures, there is a new sense of anxiety when choosing clothes these days. Now that we live under the same roof, I am available for consultation more frequently. This past May when we switched the closet to summer clothes, in addition to pictures, I hung clothes together – shorts and skirts with coordinating tops with hanger extensions. We have sorted and eliminated – too much is overwhelming to chose from. There is now a basket for work out wear. A drawer for swimwear. A rack for short sleeves/long sleeves.
Now we are in fall/winter and the new closet is installed. And a new level of Alzheimer’s. So new addition to the game plan, we are going to pull out clothes for the week and hanging them on the valet rod. Seems to be the newest solution.
With the clothing decision determined, hygiene is the prerequisite, right? My mom is generally still a regular bather. That being said, reminders never hurt. Gentle reminders. On the days it is not a given, creating a spa like environment with scented salts or bubbles – will do the trick! I remember a time when I couldn’t get her into the bath tub itself, we put a chair into the shower. Towel on the bench and around her shoulders and lap until she warmed up. (You can always wash another towel.) Somedays it ended up seeming like mom might have just needed a little more attention, and that’s ok.
Besides bathing, oral care – this is brushing of the teeth for us and the occasional flossing. Make sure they have what they need, quarterly change toothbrush heads or replace toothbrushes. Make sure there is toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, etc… My mom is very sensitive about how her teeth have aged (read that as discolored). I just ordered her the newest Oral B toothbrush. Now the Bluetooth features are wasted on my mom, the toothbrush is a big homerun! If it makes her feel better, I am all for it!
Skin care and make up – why not? My mom is super critical of herself, including her age spots on her face. She had a chemical peel two years ago, because she could. It didn’t produce the results she was hoping for. It didn’t occur to me until the middle of the process, how thin the top layer of her skin is! My mom is beautiful but this was something she wanted. So now she has found a drugstore cream she is using hoping for better results.
My sister was visiting (before Covid) and my mom mentioned she wanted new make up. OK! Let’s shop!! Girls day ensued. New foundation, new brushes, blush, eye color…you name it she got it! As well, the girl at the counter did her face. She was beaming! From there we went to Victoria Secret, who knew she wanted new undies! No time for that story now. I mean logical jump, fancy face…fancy panties!
Back to make up, my mom does not wear make up every day. Sometimes not even every week, but she is happy it is on her counter and she can put it on when she wants to! I think the memory of the excursion makes her smile as much as the make up. Maybe that is just my imagination.
If YOU feel better, showered, dressed, a little make up and a good hair day – so do your parents! Just cause they are “slipping” doesn’t mean you can’t help them master this part for right now.
Listen and watch for behaviors indicative of change. If mom is wearing the same outfit for days, my mom might be depressed. If her hair is crazy – let’s get her in a bubble bath with a tub full of water instead of the 1/2 inch she normally allows herself. Confirm the date of the next salon appointment. Then make sure to document it in places your loved one can see. If she is complaining about her teeth color – new toothpaste? Not going to break the bank and might just help! In the end make sure these simpler solutions aren’t enough to adjust an attitude and provide for a happier moment. Otherwise – talk to their doctor. Seriously, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one in this blog. Along with Alzheimer’s, my mom suffers from chronic depression. To add to that, depression is a side effect of many of the medications she takes.
Watch for signs:
- not showering or bathing
- wearing the same clothes over and over
- lack of hair care
- lack of oral hygiene
Observe your loved one with an open mind. If you are concerned – talk to their doctor. I know there are later stages that will come. All I can share is my here and now. God bless all of you caring for your loved ones.
Thank you for reading,
“There is no perfect way to take care of an elderly parent except with the most love and patience you are able to muster on that particular day.”AgingCare.com