My mother-in-law has dementia and is obsessed with her looks. Help!

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My mothernlaw lives with me now due to her alzhemiers dementia. I love her dearly and want the best for her, but I am finding she is spending 8 to 10 hours a day "putzing" as she calls it. What she is doing is putting her makeup on ..over and over and over again. SHe spends about 300 dollars alone in lipstick every month!!! Yes it is her money but I am afraid not only of the compulsive behavior, but there will come a time when she will be put in a home, and that money she spends on her lipstick will be needed for her care.

Im not sure how to handle this. I would love to just take it away, but im not sure that is the correct way to handle it. Her memory is about 3 to 5 mins long so discussing it with her, she doesnt remember.

Her "putzing" as she calls it is now interferring with our daily life style. I knew having her here would, but at this rate now, I cant go get anything done until she feels she is done with her face. Usually thats close to 8 pm!!! And when she is done...she looks dead!!! She puts so much stuff on, that it actually makes her look dead!

I am at a lost as to what to do!! Please if someone can help in this area, wether youve faced it or if you have the medical knowledge ...pleeeeease let me know! I want my mother n law as happy as I can make her, but I need her to get out of her room! She has extreme busted veins on her left foot due to her standing in front of mirror for hours at her own home before she moved in, now she is sitting at a vanity in her room, but still for hours. HELP!!!!!!


Obsessive compulsive tendencies are sometimes dealt with by taking an anti-depressant. It's important to take her to a Dr (perhaps her own) that has treated this behavior. Personally I would call her Dr's office and speak to the nurse for advice. That's where I would start.
Until the medications kick in, I'd be getting lipstick at the dollar store.
Hi Kirkswife,
With dementia and Alzheimer's behaviors, a common suggestion is "redirect". Are you able to redirect her into helping you with the laundry, grocery shopping, dusting, or? It's worth a try. Tell her she looks lovely and now you need her help. Be very matter of fact, don't fear that she will not comply, but 'expect ' her to help! As you have already discovered, there is a lot of game playing and adjusting your own perception of reality. Eventually, or most likely, I should say, her awareness will change, and this behavior may dwindle. I hope she has a huge jar of cleansing cream to remove the layers of cosmetics. Try to get her focused on other things:) Take care. Christina
I thank you for your replies! My husband said shes been heavy into the makeup for over 30 years, so I think it might be a no win! But this morning it was on her face to the point that her eyes hurt and was very caked with the powder and liquid makeup repeatedly being put on. ANd then she didnt know what was on her face!!!!! Literally didnt no make up was on her face!! That throws me for she is so obsessed! ANd also she decided to empty her bowl of ceral not in the garbage, but on my counter on a paper towel. NOT meanly or anything, it was just how she chose to dispose of it. Guess I need to be ready for anything! is on zoloft for depression. Doctor says to start giving it to her later in the day instead of the morning. hmm
Hi Kirkswife, is your MIL on any other meds? Like Exelon patch, or ? Just wondering. What is the Zoloft supposed to do for her? And is he a geriatric psychiatrist, or a general MD? Might be time to take her in to a specialist to address her unique issues. BTW: I sold cosmetics for 30 years, so I know her type. Haha. Take care, Christina
My mom has frontotemporal dementia and is obsessed with her looks. She would spend $1,000 on anti-wrinkle cream if I let her. She sees those commercials about the 'lifestyle lift' plastic surgery and asks me if she can get that done. Besides the dementia, she has recently started a downward spiral in her health. We were briefly talking about hospice, but have since found a treatment for one of her diseases, but when we were talking about it, she was only concerned about getting whitening stuff for her teeth and getting more anti-wrinkle cream.
This is a complicated situation. My sister and I have Durable Power of Attorney so she no longer has access to her money to spend all of it on anti-wrinkle creams and not pay her bills.
My mom is also on 400 mg of Seroquel and 1000 mg of Depakote. Trust me, I have been putting up with this BS for a long time. Do yourself a favor and RUN (don't walk) to the nearest psychiatrist that specializes in geriatric psychiatry. This will NOT get better. She cannot be redirected. This is only something that can be controlled with major anti-psychotic drugs.

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