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Topic Problem with hygiene - Any insight/suggestions? Go to previous topic Go to next topic Go to higher level

By alongroad On 2009.08.05 22:16
I've been having a weird problem with my DH lately, and I'm hoping some of you can help me understand it.

DH is a young onset PD victim. He's 45 and been suffering from PD for nine years. Fortunately, his illness hasn't been bad until recently. He's probably about a stage two -- his gait and posture is affected, and he has begun having trouble swallowing, but he is still mobile and is still capable of most of the things he used to do, although often very slowly.

However, in the last few months his personal grooming and hygiene have completely fallen apart. He now showers about once every ten days. It has seriously impacted our intimate life, as I am not willing to be intimate if he hasn't showered in the last day or two.

I've asked him about why he doesn't want to shower (trying very hard not to sound judgemental or accusatory) and he said it just seems like too much trouble to do it. He did say that it takes longer to lather up and wash his hair, but this didn't really seem like enough of a reason not to wash up. Until the last few months he has had a very strong libido, and I guess I assumed that if I told him I needed him to shower before bed that would have been enough of an incentive.

The thing that really annoys me is that if we are going somewhere where other people might see him, he makes the effort to clean up, but he won't do so just for me. The last time we went out with friends he got all cleaned up, and then later wanted to have sex with me. I got really annoyed and refused, which I suppose was counterproductive. It just felt like I was an add-on attraction ;)

He has also become more and more deeply involved with an online roleplaying game, and spends most of his time playing it. Many nights he doesn't come to bed, but just dozes in his chair. I'm not thrilled about it, but if it gives him something to do while I'm at work I can live with it. (It's cheaper than the period of time when he was compulsively buying stuff on ebay!) (Yes, he's on Mirapex.)

We see a couples counsellor every few weeks, and I'm thinking about bringing it up again, but the last time I brought up the cleanliness issue DH got very embarrassed about it. (He got better about it for a little while.) I don't want to humiliate him again, but on the other hand, it's become a problem again.

Anyone have any insight or suggestions?

By LOHENGR1N On 2009.08.06 00:14
alongroad, I can take a stab at this, I may be way off base but........Let's take a look at the shower. Your DH is 45, I can identify with Him (yopd). He doesn't want the world to know how much He's affected by Parkinson's, so He presents the best He can when going out. This is common among Us with Parkinson's Disease and makes Us Our own worse enemies!! If We showed the world just how bad it is there might be more of a push to find a cure and ease the burden! Stubbornness, vanity, denial or just plain I don't want people gawking or staring at Me, whatever it is common with Us. I guess for what little compensation it gives He's comfortable around you, he knows he's loved and hence doesn't feel he has to present his best (showering) you accept him flaws and all.

Now, a couple of things about the showering. Do You have handrails or grips in the shower? He may be feeling a bit uneasy and fearing a slip or fall. Remember He's 45! The handrails are for elderly in His mind. Someone His age doesn't need them or He doesn't want to admit He does. If you have them well there might be another reason.......Parkinson's robs Us of Our sense of smell. He may not realize he has body odor! If He can't smell it then He doesn't know. If you don't have handrails tell him you need them, you almost fell and want them to be safe (sometimes a little white lie does good too). You can ask him to smell a couple things to see if it's still good! If He's having trouble doing that or test him with smells, say you've heard PD takes the sense of smell away and you want to see how he's doing. Then suggest a shower (whenever or often as is pleasant for you) more often as your smeller is still working fine. He might be more open and agreeable when he realizes you're not nit-picking and He just can't tell. The role playing game helps him escape his disease and be someone else just as long as it doesn't become all consuming. Time spent doing it probably makes him feel better, but if the showering picks up You can probably persuade him to spend a bit less time online and a bit more with You. Well before I type myself into hot water here I hope this gives some ideas or reasons as to why maybe. Take care, best of luck and hang in there.

By susger8 On 2009.08.06 09:19
I would keep an eye on the gaming and online shopping. You already know Mirapex can cause compulsive behavior, it sounds like. He could be involved with other online stuff you haven't found out about yet, so keep checking the credit card accounts and checkbook. Maybe he could be switched to another medication?

By Ilovemydog On 2009.08.06 09:52
My father has this problem , although he is much older than your husband. When I hired a home health aid there was a 100% improvement. Now that he is in a facility it is starting back up again. He prob rushes to the shower before someone comes to help him, therefore not doing a good enough job, he refuses to wear deordorant

By lynn On 2009.08.06 20:43
Alongroad- If I had to guess I'd say your hubby is depressed. I would speak with the neurologist about this in private. I can certainly understand you not wanting sex because of the hygiene. I also think we tend to interpret actions as though things are normal-they are not. We revert back to how healthy people are and we end up hitting our head on a brick wall. I suggest that you try to view this as not personal. In the meantime, Maybe suggest a shower together as fun with no reference to the hygiene matter. I bet he'll go for that.

By mylove On 2009.08.06 23:25
Yes, I concur with the last suggestion. Without getting too personal and making anyone here uncomfortable, my partner and I have showered together for a while now. It makes it a lot more comfortable for me, because we originally started out with a tub/shower combo, and it was slippery and difficult for him to get in and out of. There were a few near misses before we started to make our morning routine a 'couple's affair'. The other nice side benefits were of the 'I'll wash your back/you wash mine' variety, plus it keeps the closeness between us. And I'm there with an arm and a hip to lean against when he does things like stand storklike to dry his toes!

Seriously speaking, if you can get him to shower with you (and you can do it openminded), not only will you be able to help out (and do so in a playful, discreet way, so he doesn't feel like you're chastising him for not doing it well enough himself) but he (and you) may regain that libido, and that healthy couple's intimacy. Just my two cents, for what it's worth.

By WitsEnd On 2009.08.07 10:03
The role playing games are addictive. I know two couples whose relationship broke up over the games. If it is too much of a problem it should be treated like any other addiction.

I would suggest, if you can afford it, doing a shower re-do. I took out a bath tub for dad and had a handicap friendly shower put in. Just because you do something like that doesn't mean you have to make a big deal out of it from a handicap perspective. You can put in a rain head shower, sprayer, etc. and say it is just a bath remodel with pretty tile, etc. Joint showers may be fun too.

Frankly if I had to guess it sounds like he knows it annoys you and he's doing a little passive-aggressive behavior. He's probably mad or frustrated about his condition and he's taking it out on you. Counselling and treatment for depression are all good ideas. You won't solve the problem until you get to the bottom of why he is really acting that way.

By annwood On 2009.08.07 14:16
It is quite possible that his disease has progressed and as it does the personal hygeine is an issue. Probably not much you can do about it if this is the case but do try the above recommendations. I think that many PD pts are so exhausted that they just don't have the energy to bathe. I put a shower stool in the shower so that my husband could sit and shower. I could get in and lather him up as well as wash his hair. We used one of those hand held shower heads which was helpful for both of us. Good luck.

By bandido1 On 2009.08.07 17:28
alongroad: I agree with the use of stabilizing bars for showers. There is also a pressure bar available at most Medical Supply Stores. While not prepared to admit it, he may be having a balancing problem typical with most patients While joint showering is not available to me (my nurse's aide seems to somehow reject the idea), it might turn out to be an entirely new experience for both of you, if you know what I mean!

Dealing with the smell test might be a little bit more difficult. I do agree he needs to understand the impact on others. Most of us patients lose our sense of smell at onset. Fortunately for me, coconut oil has proved to be at least a temporary relief with some of my smell abilities temporarily restored. Try it! No harm no foul-(odor??) Bob C

By alongroad On 2009.08.08 01:57
Thanks for all the suggestions. The shower is actually a walk in one (not a tub) that has a bar to hold on to, so that's not the issue.
I do see more and more compulsive behavior, so I think it's time to discuss with the neuro.

By dkleinert On 2009.08.08 23:46
I had the exact same issue with my husband, Joe. He stunk! He said he was taking a shower and "cleaning up", but he always smelled really bad - kind of a combination of urine and bad body odor. I totally understand about being embarassed about him going in public smelling so bad - it was really becoming a problem for me. Joe cannot smell at all, so he does not smell himself. I finally decided I had to do something. About a month ago I said "Would you like for me to give you a shower and scrub your back and scalp really good - I know you have problems reaching in those places?" He said "Sure", and so it began. Every day, now I give him a total shower and wash his hair. And it is wonderful -he no longer smells!!! I use a natural liquid soap that has Tea Tree essential oil in it because it is deoderizing. It has worked. He loves it. He has told me several times how much he enjoys it. He also told me that he cannot do the scrubbing motion one needs to do with a wash cloth or scrubby sponge or whatever you use to wash. I use one of those scrubby balls and when I add the liquid soap to it it foams up. He has to hold on to the sides of the shower because of his balance issues. I also told him I was scrubbing kind of vigorously to remove all of the dead skin cells, so if he didn't like it, to let me know. He says he loves it. So - you might try that tact. Joe still attempts to shave himself with an electric razor - he does an alright job - not great and he does miss a lot of places, especially on the side of his neck and the sides of his face, but at least it is an improvement. I take him for a haircut once a month, and a pedicure every other month. So far, he has not said anything negative about those things. It was VERY hard for me to broach this subject with Joe. Joe used to be a very vain person, and was always groomed immaculately. Good luck - and hang in there!


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