Mother (early 90s) has developed obsessions (paper). Now obsession is plucking nose hairs with tweezers. What can I do about this behavior? - AgingCare.com

Mother (early 90s) has developed obsessions (paper). Now obsession is plucking nose hairs with tweezers. What can I do about this behavior?

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Mother has been obsessing over everything. I know her world has gotten smaller and she is afraid. This week she started having nose bleeds and the caregiver said she may have scratched the inside of her nose with her nails. Today I saw that mother had tweezers and I asked her what they were for. She said that she plucks her nose hairs with them. Maybe that is why she has nose bleeds. She was very angry with me for asking her questions about what she does. She feels that no one lets her do what she wants. I say we are trying to keep her safe. She does not understand any explanation because she is very hard of hearing and has dementia. I have asked the caregiver to hide the tweezers. Trying to discourage her behavior may be a lost cause because of her condition. A few weeks ago her obsession was shaving her legs with a razor. It seems when we take one thing away she finds something else to obsess over. I am at a loss of what to do because she gets upset very easily. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Hi demstress,
That’s a new problem for me but sounds similar to my aunt picking at her skin. We tried bandaids (at suggestion of doctor) and salves etc for awhile and then more or less gave up. It seems to be better now but there’s sometimes one or two scabs on just one of her ears that she has worked over.
We keep her nails trimmed and her skin lotioned but that wouldn’t solve your problem.
I give my aunt half of an allergy tablet in her meds each day in the belief that it helps. When we’ve stopped the pill, it seems like the picking increases.
The nose fixation makes me think of allergies but when you say she was shaving her legs before that it sounds like a different problem.
When you mention trying to keep her safe I would suggest you read “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande which might gently help you shift your focus on that being the first priority over to living her life as she wants to.
Today I would probably decide a small nose bleed isn’t that big of a deal. But it took me a long time to get there.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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take away the tweezers.
ive read that pulling nose hairs can cause an infection to the brain. make sure her fingernails are trimmed so she doesn't scratch inside her nose as hard. that can cause infection inside nose too.
maybe a dr appointment to check inside her nose. maybe something is lodged inside.

take away her razor and get an electric one.

my mom argues with me too. I usually stick to my guns, but avoid any big argument.

you are correct to try and make her safe
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Reply to wally003
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I remember your writing about the razor thing. Obsessive behaviors are very common in people with dementia. Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. When my mom obsessed about scissors, her nurse asked me to remove all scissors and other sharp objects from her room which I did. Essentially, it’s like taking care of a small child. You wouldn’t let them play with something that could injure them, and your mom has already caused her nose to bleed. When you take something away from a child that they shouldn’t have, they will throw the proverbial fit too. But, you don’t give it back to them, right? Let Mom do her kicking and screaming and just ignore it. Don’t argue with her. She could wind up with an infection if she keeps doing that. Not only that, but gosh, it has to be painful!
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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