How can someone with Alzheimer’s do their laundry
I get many questions each day but this one in particular caught my eye. “How to get my mother with Alzheimer’s to wash her clothes.”
If she has Alzheimer’s or Demenita— The short answer is: You probably won’t. And if she does laundry at all, it won’t be in a way that you would approve, or any conventional way for that matter.
If she’s forgotten how the washing machine works; how to open the lid, turn the dial, push the start button–it’s not likely that she will ever remember again. And she will not be able to explain or describe exactly why she can’t do laundry. She only knows that she’s forgotten how to do it, and maybe forgotten that it needs to be done at all.
Sometimes with a little coaxing you might force her to remember a previous task, but the knowledge will most likely be fleeting. Any new instruction or information imparted will soon be forgotten as well.
I remember a visit I made to Mom’s while she was living alone and I had yet to realize Alzheimer’s would be knocking on our door in a few weeks. Packing her bag for a short trip to my home, I was surprised to find the lingerie drawer stuffed with high-heeled shoes. Calling out to Mom, I asked, “Where are your panties, Mom?”
As I headed for her dresser where lingerie was normally store, there was a long moment of Silence before she called out, “Oh…they’re in the closet.”
That was a little odd, I thought, but went to her closet instead and found 3 pair of clean white panties draped over the clothes pole– along with a pair of damp tennis shoes and a dripping black leather purse.
It was obvious Mom had been hand-washing. The leather purse was most puzzling but I took a quick peek inside her washing machine as I came down the hall, thinking it might be broken or out of order. It was fully loaded with clothes and laundry detergent speckled atop the fabric like snow. I was confused, but ignored the incident. My Mom was an adult and could do laundry however she liked. Boy, was I wrong!
In hindsight, she had probably forgotten how to turn the knob, or push it in to start the rush of running water. Whatever the problem, she never mentioned the washing machine to me.
The sad part about the entire situation is that we, who don’t have Alzheimer’s, find it so difficult to understand the situation.
We prod, and nag, and cajole, trying to make the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia understand. “Just try to remember”… I told my Mom a million times.
It isn’t going to happen! That’s what Cognitive Decline does.
Their cognitive (brain) functioning is waning, slowly slipping away. Your loved one may look the same and even talk the same, but their brain is no longer the same. The knowledge they have at the present will be lost and they will forget how to wash clothes, or take a shower, or eat their evening meal. Your job as a loved one or caregiver is to accept them at every interval with love and patience, for you cannot change it.
The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have AlzheimerCreating Moments of Joy for the Person with Alzheimer’sThe Alzheimer’s Diet: A Step-by-Step Nutritional ApproachChicken Soup for the SoulLearning to Speak Alzheimer’sAlzheimer’s Dementia Caregiving DVD: