Hygeine often becomes an issue in the later stages of dementia. Fortunately for us, mom has been rigid in her showering/hygiene routine. She hasn't needed assistance or supervision in managing her bathing; she showers every morning-or so we thought.
A few months ago, mom started referring to certain days as "severe shower" days. We interpreted "severe showers" to mean that those were days she washed her hair versus other days when she put on a shower cap. Her mention of severe shower days became less frequent, but the blow dryer was still being heard in her bedroom every morning. Why would she need to blow dry her hair if she wasn't washing it? We figured all was well in the showering department.
Through a series of events, we came to discover exactly what "severe showers" meant. First, a disclaimer: I don't post this to embarrass my dear mom. By now, you should all know that the things I write about are NOT my mom, but a disease that has taken over her body and mind. I share this only to help others to understand the complications of dementia and to prepare those who are behind us in their journey. I just wanted to make that clear. Back to the severe showers...after we took the blow dryer away, as my aunt checked in on my mom that week, she noticed that the shower stall was dry. It seemed that mom didn't know what to do in her routine without her blow dryer. For the entire week following her blow dryer confiscation, the shower stall remained dry. After brainstorming with my dad, he decided he would disable the hot wire in the blow dryer so that mom could have her blow dryer (and routine) back without the risk of harming herself. The morning after he did that, I went over to check in on mom. I heard the blow dryer going; success! Our plan had worked...or did it?
I decided to peek in on the shower stall, just to make sure it was wet, and to my surprise, it was dry apart from a small bit of water directly under the faucet. There's no way she could have taken a severe shower with the majority of the shower stall dry!
Upon further observation, we have learned that mom is washing her face and her hair in the sink every morning (hence, why we still hear the blow dryer going everyday). As for the rest of her body...she is sponge bathing in the shower stall but only takes severe showers once in a while. It's not clear how long she's been doing this or how long she'd gone without a shower. But she's been complaning of some discomfort in certain areas of her body, which is likely due to the lack of proper cleaning so my guess is that this has probably been going on for a couple of months now. Needless to say, it is more responsiblity on my dad as he now has to ensure that she gets showered at least a few times a week. He's been waiting for her to get undressed into her pajamas at night and takes that opportunity to push her (not harshly, of course) into the shower. She's needed a few promptings on what to do while in the shower, but the job gets done without dad having to do more than put her in...for now.