My son's hygiene is getting so bad

My son has not showered in about a year and a half, he has so much plaque build up on his teeth, that I am sure he will lose many of them soon. His fingernails can grow to great lengths before falling off, and what used to be dreads in his unwashed hair, have now been folded into some type of knots, which I know must hurt his head when he sleeps, and I think add to the dull aches he feels around his eyes at times. At some point, his lack of hygiene I’m sure, will begin to cause him pain, and he will need to seek medical attention.

He is currently not taking his meds and I think three weeks is the longest he has ever taken them consecutively.He is nineteen. He does not smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and smokes pot when he manages to get his hands on a few bucks, which is only seldomly. What he does crave is music and trips to grocery stores so he can buy his own food. He is an amazing musician and I have started taking guitar lessons to reach him. This is important to him, so we go weekly, so he can see my progress. Playing together brings us closer. I also take him shopping about 3-4 times a week. He loves buying his food and sorting through the aisles reading labels.

He does express anger towards me and his father. His dislike of us is obvious. There is a lot of manipulation going on. He talks bad about his dad, and when I defend him, gets mad at me. I think he does the same with his dad when I’m not around. We have catered to him his whole life because of the peculiarities, the whole family has, actually.

I have learned that talking to him about his hygiene just makes things worse. He longs for attention from girls, but that’s not happening because of many factors, and I’m sure his appearance is one of them. But he doesn’t see it. It is so hard to watch him suffer.

Is there hope that these negative symptoms can improve over time? I think he will comply at some point with medication, but we are trying to be as patient as possible in the meantime.

Thank you.

Keep supporting and encouraging him. It’s tough to live with this illness. On both the outside and the inside. Motivation issues can get better but only with the proper frame of mind.

I still struggle keeping everything together. Sleep schedule, dishes, laundry, even not showering for a few days.

It’s hard to tell what he’s specifically going through my advice has got to stop there.

Good on you for your support. I’m sure it hasn’t been an easy year. The forum is a great place for finding some guidance, we will all be glad to answer what we can. Professional opinions are good as well, unfortunately not many people specialize in dealing with the illness.

We try to support and just lay low. Avoid getting him upset. I saw clarity when he was on Risperdol, but his anger at having to take the meds, offset whatever good they were doing t seemed. I do require that he continue therapy, however, and he doesn’t seem to mind the appointments so much. It gets him out of the house and somewhat socialized. His guitar teacher seems to be the best therapy right now. In all honesty, I think music is going to be huge for his recovery. His teacher sees his gift and always tells me how amazed he is by his talent. His whole life is music. I’m trying to save for a drumset. He used to have one but he gave it away. He is excited about having one again and that seems to help.

Thanks for your encouragement.

Music is an excellent pillar for living a good life.

As a hobby it’s great. Accessible and is a creative outlet. Opens social doors and even financial doors potentially.

Just having that basic structure might show him that he could spend 10 minutes taking a shower before playing.

Is it group therapy or private counseling?

It’s private counseling for now. He won’t do group. He’s really only going to private because he needs to for SSI, but I think he doesn’t mind it. He craves attention.

That’s good. To have a pro spending one on one time it might produce a lot of insight into his particular illness and psychology, this could lead to him becoming a little more functional. If he sees that he can improve he might be more inclined to put effort into it.

You can’t let him go on manipulating you if you want him to get better. My sister does that with my parents and they always give into her little “schemes” which just encourages her to do it more. This hasn’t been working for you son or for you.

But at the same time kudos to you. You are doing something very hard (and at some points may feel impossible). I don’t have kids so I can’t even try to imagine what you are going through.
jelly bean hug.

It sounds like you and your son have a close relationship. For a bit I was clipping my son’s nails. During a negative spell I ended up taking a facecloth and washing him from the waist up. I even flossed his teeth once. He let me.

One small step could be addressing this. For I can imagine playing the guitar is much more easily with your fingernails clipped to a reasonable length. Maybe his teacher can even help in this. Sell it to him as a way to improve his music?

How difficult this must be! As someone else seemed to suggest - taking him out with you if he hasn’t showered for that long could be very hard to tolerate - to be honest, I’m not sure I would be able to allow him in my car. If he enjoys going out to the store as much as you say, I would definitely try making it conditional on him cleaning up. Does he at least change his clothes regularly?

As you say, this has got to be impacting not only his ability to have social interactions but it has to be having ill-effects on his health.

You didn’t mention what other symptoms he has. If his illness interferes with performing ‘daily life skills’ and ‘basic self care’, I would suggest seeking hospitalization.

Bless his heart (and yours), I can’t even imagine going that long without a shower.

The only thing I can think of is maybe bargain with something of high value to him, like his music. Is there some aspect of his music you could withhold until he agrees to a shower and a haircut? I have used money as a bargaining chip with my son and it works with him.

From what you have said, I think he desperately needs hospitalization. Easier said than done, I know. Does neglecting his hygiene for 1-1/2 years qualify for being a danger to himself? Idk, but seems like it should. It’s a crying shame that we can’t get the proper help for our kids without having to figure out an angle.

Hang in there, I hope you can make some progress with him. Big ((hug))

Not if he continues to refuse meds… and what else should you expect if you are being “patient?” While I understand all the politically correct blather (especially on forum dominated by sz pts who don’t want to be controlled by anyone, anywhere, anytime), the fact is that you may not be doing your son a favor by waiting this out.

This type of pt has to be forcibly hospitalized IF the result you want is for him is to 1) live as long as he can, 2) be reasonably healthy, 3) acquire the skills he will need to survive in the world when you are gone, and 4) to save your own ass so that you are able to take care of him in the future.

So let us move on past the nicey-niceys (I will shortly and summarily be castigated for negating by those who believe in fairy tales) and get down to business. You need to find out what the laws are in your state with respect to conservatorship over a child who is legally incompetent to manage his own affairs, is probably endangering his own life (if not that of others), and bringing mini-vermin into your household.

Each state is a little different. You can dig online through the “health and welfare codes” if you know how. If you do not, I suggest marching yourselves (NOT him) (not yet, anyway) to a county social services worker who can guide your through the process.

I fully understand that he will throw a fit (IF you tell him what you’re doing; why bother?), but so what? If the health of three or more people is involved – and yours becomes sufficiently compromised as the result of stress and/or vermin-induced illness – he will not have you to take care of him, will he?

You’re welcome to read all the “good ideas” you’re going to see in opposition to this. but you have read what you’ve read here from someone who has had to work with the severely mentally ill for a long, long time, and has seen far more than all the members of this forum put together.

Okay. Off my soap box. And have a good life. :dizzy_face: :dizzy_face: :grinning:

You won’t be castigated by me. There are certainly circumstances where forced medication is not only appropriate but the most humane course of action. This is definitely one of them. For what it’s worth, I’ve had SZ for over two decades and it absolutely my hope that someone would force meds on me should I ever decline into the state that was just described. I can’t imagine anyone living like that by choice.


Agreed. :shower:

I feel the same way. I should write up a directive for my family.

I think you should try “toufh love” as they say. Place him somewhere where he can get help because he is not taking care of himself. And you can’t help him and continue watching his behavior. The parents shouldn’t be the only ones making things right. If he realizes he can’t depend on you’ll he’ll have to try to make changes in his own life.

My family has been dealing with this type of behavior and on and off of meds for over 35 years with my brother. Taking money away and visitors away i feel helped us move things along in a positive direction. That way he worked more with professionals than his family that are too sensitive and can be manipulated. Believe me the position results are always temporary but can last years at a time which is good for all.

Hang in there I know this is heartwrenching.

We can’t handle when our son won’t shower for a few days and an enclosed car can be nearly unbearable. So I get it if he won’t listen to parents about showering. Since he has music lessons that he enjoys, maybe his music teacher could explain that it isn’t possible to give lessons in his current state. Also I agree with those who say he must shower before you take him grocery shopping since he enjoys that activity, too.
Absolutely you should receive help as in guardianship or a hospitalization in his state of uncleanliness and his disregard for anyone else in that situation healthwise. Unless he showers, he would receive no music gift or gift of any sort because he needs to be more respectful of others.

I can relate my son takes showers but will not wear deodorant. I understand caring for your son and keeping your mind set on the positive things that he does, that’s what I do. God bless you. Stay strong and keep caring about your son as God puts it on your heart to do so.

It is really hard when the hygiene gets bad…,My son would not take showers when he was off his meds for months at a time the 1st year and was living at home…The kitchen looked like a tornado hit it and wouldn’t change his close or keep up his hygiene at all. I couldn’t get through to him and sometimes he got very agitated…Through out the years in and out of hospitals and on different meds I noticed he still has a hard time taking showers even on medication. I asked him one day what bothered him about taking showers and he said the water has fluoride and he needs a special shower filter that takes out all the fluoride so I found one and I could get him to take a shower at least 2x a week…Yes. in the past he would go without showers for long periods of time and it was awful but the filter, his organic soap and organic shampoo and that really has helped out with him taking showers. I still have to remind him to take showers a few times a week and brush teeth daily and to put on clean clothes after he takes his shower. When we go out I tell him to freshen up before we go ( brush hair , brush teeth and deodorant )- it bothered him before but now hes getting used to it…I explained to him that im not putting him down I just want him to clean up before we go out and be presentable. It has been a struggle and I could relate with you and it’s extremely harder when they stop there meds to get them to do things and sometimes it’s best to keep things neutral. It might be because he may think the water is poison or chemicals in the soap…Not sure but this is my experience with my son …Hang in there and if you want to send me a personal msg, that is fine!

Thank you. They sound very much alike. I know my son is paranoid about the chemicals in the water. He will only drink bottled water and has to have a special soap but with no water. He uses tea tree oil and lemons to freshen up. He puts a neem powder on his teeth but won’t use a toothbrush. Everything he eats and uses has to be organic. I don’t mind buying him these things because they are part of his self medication. He doesn’t smoke, drink, and smokes pot seldomly. He stays creative and we try to keep the stress level down. He cleans himself in his own way and yes, he changes his clothes everyday. He has organic clothing too. From this post, I have filed the paperwork for temporary guardianship - 60 days which will give me time to complete the needed paperwork for permanent. He is living with his dad at the moment because the rule to be at my house includes taking medication. I took my daughter on a trip and took him over to his dad’s. When I got back, he decided to stay because he isn’t required to take medication there. I’m rambling, sorry. It’s been a long couple of days. Thanks for writing.