Hygiene Issues with older difficult children?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by CrazyinVA, May 7, 2008.

  1. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My Oldest difficult child has always has a problem with hygiene. She doesn't bathe daily, and doesn't take care of her teeth. She sometimes rolls out of bed, pulls a brush through her greasy hair and puts it in a short pony tail, throws on dirty clothes (not horribly so, but obviously wrinkled and not freshly washed), and goes to work (as a waitress, no less). An ex boyfriend of hers told me once that he was with her when she picked up a job application at a vet's office,and overheard them say as they walked out, 'I wish these drug addicts would stop coming in here looking for work." (She's also pale and thin).

    I'm letting her borrow my car today so she can run some errands and pick up job applications. In return she's getting my car inspected and doing some other things for me. When she got in my car, she smelled awful. She's showed up to visit me in my office before, reeking of stale cigarettes and with horrible breath. Not necessarily looking unclean, but ... the smell, man, it's embarrassing.

    Any attempts to bring it up to her, no matter how gently, are met with an explosion.

    I know young teens sometimes go through this .. heck I remember I went through a greasy hair stage at around 13. But at 24? Is this some psychological issue? Has anyone else experienced this with an older difficult child? Not that I can do much about it, but just wondering. She's made decent progress in other areas of her life, but not this one. I don't get it. When she DOES clean up, she looks beautiful ... but she just doesn't seem to care most of the time. I don't think it's depression... she can be like this no matter what kind of mood swing she's in.
  2. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Sometimes -

    Suggesting to Dude that he needed to take a shower or that he smelled or that he was in dirty outfits was a sign to me that he was depressed.

    You say you dont' think it is depression - but I'm more inclined to think it is. Telling an older child especially at 24 - that they don't "have it together" via - your body odor etc....is like cutting a weed in the yard. You can take care of the immediate problem, but you are not getting to the root of the problem.

    A 24 year old young lady that has B.O. to the point you can smell it without being next to her is a red flag. It sounds like she needs a mentor or some sorts, or a roll model type friend or maybe a nice mirror for her room and say "I thougth you would like to see the most beautiful girl I know." and leave it at that.

  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    CrazyinVA, you're certainly not alone in this.

    My difficult child has serious hygiene issues. Left to his own devices, he will not wash for weeks on end. He's an 18 year old man, so you can imagine what he smells like after a few days of not washing.

    With him, it's due to sensory integration issues. difficult child likes the smell of his body odour, and the feeling of the shower spray on his skin really bothers him. So...we insisted that he take baths instead, so that the feeling of the water would be less irritating. BUT, he wasn't complying.

    At this point, his Residential Treatment Center (RTC) staff have to supervise his bath every day. They make him put on a bathing suit and watch to make sure he washes all of his non-private areas. Then they leave. He is supposed to take off the bathing suit and do the rest at that point, but who knows whether he does or not. However, since he is required to sit in the bubble bath for 20 min after the supervised portion is over, at least he will get semi-clean in spite of himself.

    I don't know if this is something that he could manage without direct supervision and enforcement. At 24, I don't know if you can make your difficult child wash, but perhaps natural consequences are the way to go.

    For example, if your daughter smells horrible then perhaps she can't use your car because of the odour she would leave behind.

    I used to soft-pedal the issue for years. At this point, I"m just blunt. For example,
    "difficult child, don't hug me. You stink and I don't hug people who are dirty and smelly. When you are clean I will give you a hug."
  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Travis has always had hygiene issues. His is more of a not thinking thing and no social thing. I flat out and tell him when he's gotten ripe because he truely doesn't notice.

    When Nichole lets hygiene slide it's a sure sign of depression even if she's managing to hold it together in other areas of her life. I call it treading water. I used to do it myself when depressed. I was going thru most of the motions but I wasn't really "there" so to speak. (I hope that makes sense)

    Personallly, I'd tell her when she's getting ripe, and why it's such a big deal to have good hygiene at least when going out into public. I figure if your own Mom won't tell you these things, who will?

    Nichole never really likes me telling her, but it does get her to bathe and after enough of it she slides back into her daily routine.

    Just my 2 cents.

  5. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    You just about need a gas mask to step one foot inside my difficult child's room. He bathes.....somewhat.....but doesn't wash his clothes regularly. (I quit doing his laundry when he was about 13 or 14 because he would change clothes 3,4, sometimes 5 times a day for the stupidest reasons) He stinks, his clothes stink and husband even noticed a brush they share stinks. I had to make a rule that his clothes are not to be left in the bathroom. We only have one hamper in there and he's not allowed to put his clothes in it with mine and husband's. They actually contaminate our clothes, it's that nasty. (One of his things is to "borrow" clothes that belong to husband and I. The funk is so bad that I've had to wash our things twice to get it out.) If he leaves his clothes in the bathroom on the floor, I either make him get them or simply fling them into his room. If I know he's going to be in the car with me on a hot or even semi-warm day, I make him bathe. If sitting in the same room with him makes you turn green, I tell him he stinks. Otherwise, I leave it alone. As long as it's not stinking up my house I figure eventually (I HOPE) enough of his peers will tell him he stinks and he'll do something about it. At least when he first came to live with us at 9, he still took baths and I could make sure he was clean. He would do the swim trunk thing so I could wash his hair and then play for awhile. Like someone else mentioned, that way I at least knew he was soaking some of the crud off.

    So...if you think it's depression and you feel you can do something about it, go for it. Otherwise, I don't think there's any telling them sometimes. I would just make sure it doesn't affect how your house or car smells.
  6. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks for all the replies. It's been such a prevalent thing for so long, that's why I think there's more to it than just depression. She just doesn't care.

    I have to give you the update to today's story, though, because it's even MORE typical difficult child. As I mentioned, she was taking my car to be inspected. My inspection was expired, my faut, admittedly. But she was to take it straight to the garage first thing after dropping me off at work at 8:30. Instead, she drove around a bit. At 10:30 I got a text message.. she's been pulled for the expired inspection. To top it off... her drivers license is suspended .. she of course denies all knowledge of this ... but cop takes her license (is lucky she didn't go to jail), and I have to get a coworker to bring me to where she is to get my car.

    Unfreakinbelievable. I suspect she let her car insurance lapse again .. that was the reason her license was suspended a few years ago. She paid and fixed it that time, this is another offense. Her car is now gone, having died ... hence her borrowing mine.

    Ahh well. At least I don't have to worry about her asking to borrow my car again And she now lives on a bus line.
  7. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    The best thing that happened to Rob's hygiene was a nice girl friend. :)

  8. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    You know...........I have noticed a theme in the last year I have been on this board with difficult children and their hygiene. Their lack thereof seems common among them, however, I do not know why.

    My son has gotten HORRIBLE lately in this department. OMG. It used to be, when he was little, I would make him do it, but to bring this subject up to him now is like fire and gasoline. I do think it is a lot to do with sensory issues though - my difficult child hates the feel of "being wet". Always has.
  9. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    My reply would have to be very similar to Stars.
    When my difficult child was younger, the need to tell her that she should shower was a red flag for depression.
    This got much better as she got older, which I believe was the result of peer influence.
    I agree, it sounds to me that it would take comments/suggestions from friends, other loved ones..perhaps even a social worker...to turn this tide.
  10. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    She has gotten comments from friends, in fact, she gets talked about frequently by people with regard to her hygiene issues, that's happened ever since high school. Youngest has heard lots of that through the grapevine. It doesn't seem to make much of a difference, unfortunately.. at least, not long-term. She cycles through friends pretty regularly, very few have stuck by her over the years. I don't think she's easy to be friends with.

    I wish she'd go back to therapy, but doesn't seem to be very interested in that. That cycle seems to come when she is in a crisis, she'll admit herself to a psychiatric unit, stick with medications and therapy for about a month after dischage, and then stop again. It's been a few years since that happened, though. Since she's 24, not much I can do but watch, and encourage occasionally when she'll listen.