I don't talk about this very much... I think I mentioned it once when I was tossing rolled up socks to try to get her to stop. I don't discuss it because it is the thing that drives me the craziest and that simply disgusts me. If it disgusts me to deal with, I'm sure it will disgust you to read about. So, you are under no obligation to read any further.
Mom picks. She's done it for years, even before the diagnosis. She used to pick everywhere she could reach but now just focuses on her legs. It is a non-stop type of thing for her. She does it as soon as she wakes up. She does it as she falls asleep. She does it in the car, on the couch, at the dinner table. It is disgusting and it drives me crazier faster than anything she does.
The doctors all quote different causes and cures. I've researched it and found that this occurs in a very small percentage of dementia patients. Nothing they have given us has worked. I've tried everything that I can think of to stop her habit. But, it is at the point now that it is so ingrained in her activities that nothing works. I spend my days begging, snapping, cajoling, distracting, yelling at, and it is all for nothing. Her legs are a mass of wounds in various stages of healing. Verbal cues from me might stop the activity for as long as it takes her to put her hands back down there.
I am completely frustrated and lost as to how to help her to stop. Today, I am using a water gun. I spray her legs each time she reaches down. It sounds cruel, I know. But, what am I supposed to do? Beyond the medical and topical "cures" that we've tried, I've also tried taping her pant legs closed, taping gloves onto her hands, the lobbing of rolled up socks, distracting with food, puzzles, sorting tasks, etc. I am just so beyond frustrated. On really bad days that I just can't handle it, I use earphones to block the sound (yes, I can hear it) and place whatever activity I am doing in my field of vision so that I can pretend she isn't doing it. But, that results in more wounds and more to pick. And the ever present probability of infection.
Of all of the horrible things that the disease forces us to deal with, this is the hardest for me to handle. Things like water guns and throwing socks do nothing to ease my guilt. I just don't know what to do.
As I point the water gun at her and she raises her hands to the sky in surrender, I can't help but see the metaphor of Alzheimer's robbing us all of our lives.