In the USA, about 10 million people over age 50 are now caring for their aging parents. They provide primary care, such as assisting with bathing, dressing, feeding, and other personal needs. Adult children also perform additional tasks such as driving their parents to appointments, helping them with financial concerns, and shopping for groceries.
If you are lucky, you can accomplish these responsibilities without any problem. However, some seniors experience personality changes, bad temper, tantrums, grooming, and hygiene issues. Aging parents might refuse to shower, forget to sleep, swear excessively, or demand undivided attention.
These situations can be physically draining, especially if you’re keeping a job. These pointers will help you understand their behavior so that you can successfully navigate the challenging road of caregiving.
What are the culprits behind your senior’s poor hygiene?
There are several reasons why your aging parent might refuse to take a shower or change clothes. You need to understand the reasons behind their poor hygiene habits so that you can find ways to address them.
Fear and discomfort
Aging people lose their tolerance to cold, decrease their sense of balance, and has a limited range of motion. For them, taking a shower is a scary endeavor because it carries dangerous risks. The possibility of a broken hip or limited mobility can deter fearful seniors from stepping into their walk-in bathtubs.
Poor hygiene is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. People with these conditions suffer from cognitive impairment. Thus, they are unable to keep track of time. They can not recall the last day they took a shower and mistakenly think that they just bathed recently.
Aging can dull one’s senses, and seniors can become nose-blind to nasty smell. They might start to shower and change clothes less frequently because they can not notice the scent that distinguishes freshness from body odor.
What’s causing your aging parent’s outburst?
Some aging parents can exhibit irrational and aggressive behavior because of biological triggers. They might utter offensive language, harsh comments, and negative outbursts. Natural triggers include pain, illness, difficulty in hearing or seeing, hallucinations, delusions, physical discomfort, and medication.
It can be challenging to spot the real trigger without the help of your parent’s physician. If your aging parent is on medication, the doctor can make adjustments or introduce a new prescription that can help.
Aside from biological triggers, various social situations can also scare, upset, or confuse an elderly that results in an inappropriate response. These social triggers involve unfamiliar setting or crowd, boredom, place, or person that reminds him of the past, or something that causes fear.
On the other hand, the elderly with dementia can suffer from psychological issues such as memory loss, paranoia, anxiety, unfounded fear, and losing touch with reality. These problems lead to emotional outbursts and aggressive physical reactions. While some of these social scenarios are beyond your control, understanding the triggers can help you address the unruly behavior compassionately.
Caring for an aging parent can rob you of life’s leisure, money, and time. But before you nurture regret and bitterness toward your sacrifices for your elderly parents, ask yourself a question. Did they ever felt these negative feelings when they were deprived of sleep, me-time, careers, and experiences the whole time they were raising you?