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Do looks matter?

Mudlark

New member
Jan 13, 2020
7
I am a daughter ( me 53) of a mother ( 75) who has not been been diagnosed with dementia but who has all the signs of it. She has always cared about how she looks, always worn make up ,always worn nice clothes, perhaps a little vain but in a nice way. Quite suddenly she has gone from elegant older lady with hair and makeup all done to disorientated scruffy and no make up.

I don't care about the make up but my mum of old would have been mortified to go out without hair and make up done. I feel like I should offer to do hair and make up but worry its butting in to her life, or should I just let it go, what are looks anyway? ... I just cant imagine her wanting to be anything other than looking ' presentable' - sorry if this seems superficial, to me it is seeing my mum slowly slip away.....
 

DesperateofDevon

Registered User
Jul 7, 2019
2,658
I am a daughter ( me 53) of a mother ( 75) who has not been been diagnosed with dementia but who has all the signs of it. She has always cared about how she looks, always worn make up ,always worn nice clothes, perhaps a little vain but in a nice way. Quite suddenly she has gone from elegant older lady with hair and makeup all done to disorientated scruffy and no make up.

I don't care about the make up but my mum of old would have been mortified to go out without hair and make up done. I feel like I should offer to do hair and make up but worry its butting in to her life, or should I just let it go, what are looks anyway? ... I just cant imagine her wanting to be anything other than looking ' presentable' - sorry if this seems superficial, to me it is seeing my mum slowly slip away.....
Could it be depression related?
Aged mother started anti depressants &that helped.
 

Lawson58

Registered User
Aug 1, 2014
2,076
Victoria, Australia
I am a daughter ( me 53) of a mother ( 75) who has not been been diagnosed with dementia but who has all the signs of it. She has always cared about how she looks, always worn make up ,always worn nice clothes, perhaps a little vain but in a nice way. Quite suddenly she has gone from elegant older lady with hair and makeup all done to disorientated scruffy and no make up.

I don't care about the make up but my mum of old would have been mortified to go out without hair and make up done. I feel like I should offer to do hair and make up but worry its butting in to her life, or should I just let it go, what are looks anyway? ... I just cant imagine her wanting to be anything other than looking ' presentable' - sorry if this seems superficial, to me it is seeing my mum slowly slip away.....
I agree that looks don't matter except when they may be a sign or symptom of something far more important. Perhaps a chat with her GP could be a better way to go.
 

reedysue

Registered User
Nov 4, 2014
4,760
Scotland
@Mudlark
My mum was there same, she was the secretary to a finance director in London, wore elegant cloths always had her hair and makeup done. Gradually as dementia started to claim her she stopped worrying about her appearance, I am now lucky if I can get her to wash her hair, she won't shower and wears clothes that I bought her that are easy to pull on rather than smart.
 

Bunpoots

Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
4,080
Nottinghamshire
Hi @Mudlark

If your mum would enjoy having her hair and makeup done by you then by all means help her with it, perhaps just as a treat for a day out rather than everyday. I don’t think it matters personally and with my dad (I know that’s different) I aimed for presentable rather than well groomed.
 

Demi Jones

Registered User
Jun 14, 2019
15
I am a daughter ( me 53) of a mother ( 75) who has not been been diagnosed with dementia but who has all the signs of it. She has always cared about how she looks, always worn make up ,always worn nice clothes, perhaps a little vain but in a nice way. Quite suddenly she has gone from elegant older lady with hair and makeup all done to disorientated scruffy and no make up.

I don't care about the make up but my mum of old would have been mortified to go out without hair and make up done. I feel like I should offer to do hair and make up but worry its butting in to her life, or should I just let it go, what are looks anyway? ... I just cant imagine her wanting to be anything other than looking ' presentable' - sorry if this seems superficial, to me it is seeing my mum slowly slip away.....
My mum was the same now she will sit in clothes that she spilt her lunch on,I just try and keep her clean plenty of clothes that are easily removed and quickly replaced i do mum's hair twice a week and she does not mind that but all depends on her mood at the time of visiting , my mum would be mortified if she realised
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
11,646
South coast
If your mum enjoys being pampered, then yes go ahead, but not if your mum doeasnt want to. There is a delicate balance between respecting the person they were and accepting the person they have become.
 

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
16,317
66
Toronto, Canada
there was a hairdresser at the nursing home and I arranged to have my mother's hair washed every week. She seemed to enjoy it and it was a familiar activity, not someone trying to get her to wash her hair. It worked for a fair bit.
 

Sirena

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
2,137
Exactly as Canary has said, you have to tread that balance between what you think the person 'would have liked' and what they want (or need) now.

My mother always used to wear earrings and bracelets, but she stopped wearing any jewelry. I think she found it a bit annoying. She likes having her hair done, and also having her nails painted, but she doesn't want any other kind of 'fiddling around with'. She's in a care home and quite a few of the ladies seem to like having their nails done, the activities lady paints their nails.

I think things tend to get 'pared down' as the illness progresses. Maybe you could identify a couple of things she does still like, and focus on those.
 

Penelope Pitstop

New member
Feb 17, 2020
7
My mother is exactly the same. If it's a good day she puts make up on. But hardwork getting her to have a shower. The carers do try hard but she has all sorts of excuses not to shower. So yes seems a common theme.
 

One Moment At A Time

Registered User
Jan 4, 2019
43
Puerto Rico
I am a daughter ( me 53) of a mother ( 75) who has not been been diagnosed with dementia but who has all the signs of it. She has always cared about how she looks, always worn make up ,always worn nice clothes, perhaps a little vain but in a nice way. Quite suddenly she has gone from elegant older lady with hair and makeup all done to disorientated scruffy and no make up.

I don't care about the make up but my mum of old would have been mortified to go out without hair and make up done. I feel like I should offer to do hair and make up but worry its butting in to her life, or should I just let it go, what are looks anyway? ... I just cant imagine her wanting to be anything other than looking ' presentable' - sorry if this seems superficial, to me it is seeing my mum slowly slip away.....
Hi! & respectful greetings from the Caribbeans, I a 59 yrs., old male --> I "understand your language", I too been DX with the early stages of AD, I'm medicated, regularly attend AD, AA [I'm friends of Dr. Bob & Bill W. friends * I'm a problem drinker], fellowship meetings alone with wonderful folks.

I too at times give no importance to my appearance, I feel depress, anxious ... .

I'm also a cancer survivor.

But one thing that works out for me ---> being proactive / [not being timid], reaching out & most importantly, having by my side 24/7 the 'Serenity prayer' & a constant attitude of thanksgiving to a Higher Power of my understanding.

Inclosing, I daily thank Him for being alive, my loved ones, friends, 'cispi' --> my 1 yr., old chihuahua (she's truely terapeuthic) & my professional health providers.

Easy does it / having an attitude of thanks giving for today & now / baby steps *** most importantly 'Care givers' must ... have an "excape valve" ---> break the manatnie, treat yourself to a movie, a trip to a mall / have an ice cream / café ..., / go out alone or with friends.

Sincerely with you & your loved ones a safe & blessed day ---> a latino from Puerto Rico.

"Muchas ... bendiciones" / Lots ... of blessings.
 

Lunamoon

New member
Sep 30, 2019
7
I have the same with my mum - she used to be a glamorous lady but now will wear clothes that have food spilled on them and she definitely doesn't shower as much as she used to. It's up and down each time I see her. I feel she could be depressed but she won't do anything about it, we just keep going in an endless cycle until something happens to force the situation for a diagnosis. She's too good at 'putting on a front' to the doctors. I wrote to her doctor explaining all of my concerns but he can't do anything unless she allows him in - she now goes to the locum doctors so has no continuity on purpose.
 

Mudlark

New member
Jan 13, 2020
7
Thank you to those have replied, your answers and insights are very helpful. It is so difficult 'waiting' for a crisis to happen. It is so difficult changing my own mindset to accept this 'new' person that seems so different to the mother I have known.
 

One Moment At A Time

Registered User
Jan 4, 2019
43
Puerto Rico
Hi! & respectful greetings from the Caribbeans, I a 59 yrs., old male --> I "understand your language", I too been DX with the early stages of AD, I'm medicated, regularly attend AD, AA [I'm friends of Dr. Bob & Bill W. friends * I'm a problem drinker], fellowship meetings alone with wonderful folks.

I too at times give no importance to my appearance, I feel depress, anxious ... .

I'm also a cancer survivor.

But one thing that works out for me ---> being proactive / [not being timid], reaching out & most importantly, having by my side 24/7 the 'Serenity prayer' & a constant attitude of thanksgiving to a Higher Power of my understanding.

Inclosing, I daily thank Him for being alive, my loved ones, friends, 'cispi' --> my 1 yr., old chihuahua (she's truely terapeuthic) & my professional health providers.

Easy does it / having an attitude of thanks giving for today & now / baby steps *** most importantly 'Care givers' must ... have an "excape valve" ---> break the manatnie, treat yourself to a movie, a trip to a mall / have an ice cream / café ..., / go out alone or with friends.

Sincerely with you & your loved ones a safe & blessed day ---> a latino from Puerto Rico.

"Muchas ... bendiciones" / Lots ... of blessings.
 

One Moment At A Time

Registered User
Jan 4, 2019
43
Puerto Rico
Hi! To everyone, I honestly understand "your language", I'm too been Dx with early onset of AD & I'm medicated.

This demencia journey is not "too very good looking", but my faith on a Higher Power of my understanding, the Serenity Prayer, my dear wife, two children & my two "treasures" ---> my two adorable grandsons 9 & 11, my AD & AA fellowship meetings & my Healthcare providers are a big blessing in my life.

There are moments in my life I'm like the sea waves --> up & down, at moment I feel fear, depression, a sense of loliness --> I go to the restroom close the door/ go on my needs & talk to my Lord & Savior of my understanding, afterwards / have a nice cup of hot café / listen to music / play dominos with my wife or my grandsons, ect.
I have learn on this "baby steps" process that I must enjoy & be Thankful "for today & now".

Honestly wishing you innercalmness & lots ... of blessings.

"Buenas noches from Puerto Rico"
 

Cazzita

Registered User
May 12, 2018
538
Hi, my mum is exactly the same and I also find it very hard to see her change so much. However, it is better now as I have someone come in and do her nails once a month and her hair is set every 2 weeks so much improved - even thoug her dementia is much worse now.
It's really weird in those early stages - one of the first signs of mum being different was the fact that she never noties spilled food on her top and would just keep wering it for a few days. So bizarre at the time!
Looks are not important - or so we are led to believe - but it's so hard to see someone who has always been so immacualte change into someone who can't be bothered at all. x
 

One Moment At A Time

Registered User
Jan 4, 2019
43
Puerto Rico
Hi, my mum is exactly the same and I also find it very hard to see her change so much. However, it is better now as I have someone come in and do her nails once a month and her hair is set every 2 weeks so much improved - even thoug her dementia is much worse now.
It's really weird in those early stages - one of the first signs of mum being different was the fact that she never noties spilled food on her top and would just keep wering it for a few days. So bizarre at the time!
Looks are not important - or so we are led to believe - but it's so hard to see someone who has always been so immacualte change into someone who can't be bothered at all. x
Thank you for "reaching out", --- you as a caregiver need "an except volve", good out / to the movies / to the mall / have an ice cream / " change the radio channel" .... / break the magnadie.

It's isn't easy.

One thing that has help me is regularly attending AD fellowship meeting & on a daily basis trying outing into practice what I surgested above.

Be safe, take care & my most sincere wishes.

"Buenas noches"
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
130
One Of the things I work so hard on is having positive communication with mum.
By that I suppose I mean not criticising her decisions.
I have often posted that I have my invisible parrot on my shoulder that shouts the truth about things, while I smile and say all is well and not to worry.
The other day she put on a ripped blouse when she was seeing her sister, the woman she used to be would have been horrified.
I had to interfere on this one, so picked out a nice alternative blouse, pointed out the rip and suggested a quick change, using every bit of charm I possess.
It didn’t work so visited the sister in the ripped blouse!
I think the other thing I continually work on is ‘ does it matter’ often the things we stress about don’t really matter it is just a result of our culture and upbringing.
on a training course we got told to think about the saying ‘ people don’t remember what you did or said but how you made them feel’.
I try and build that into our communications.
 

Sarasa

Registered User
Apr 13, 2018
1,002
I try and make sure mum looks presentable. The care home have got a lot better at checking that her clothes are clean than they were when she first arrived, so I usually don't have to persuade her to change. I did get her to put legging on under her dress the other day, as her poor legs looked pretty grim bare. But she is 92 after all.
Mum would rarely go out without full make up and would change instantly if she dropped something on her clothes. I once unexpectedly bumped into her in a shop and she said 'Don't look at me, I haven't got my make-up on.' She's changed a lot since then, never wears make-up anymore, doesn't want to have her hair dyed, wears very odd combinations of clothes.
As long as she is clean(ish), and has a shower fairly frequently I'm fine with it.