Alzheimer’s is a complicated condition that often brings with it complex issues for those who are providing care. As the disease continues into later stages, people with Alzheimer’s progressively tend to communicate through behavior instead of speech, and many times these Alzheimer’s behaviors can be of an inappropriate nature. For instance, someone with more advanced Alzheimer’s disease might present the following:
- Aggression and agitation
- Inappropriate sexual behavior such as:
- Getting undressed or touching himself/herself in public
- Utilizing coarse or obscene language
- Jealous accusations that a spouse is having an affair
- Clinical depression
These types of behaviors can be upsetting or troubling for family caregivers, but they can also be quite confusing and frustrating for the older person with Alzheimer’s or dementia, as he or she most likely does not understand why the behavior is viewed as inappropriate or why it is troubling to others.
As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, it’s crucial to bear in mind that any difficult behaviors the senior shows are the result of the disease — or possibly other health issues or medications — not a reflection of the person’s character. Also, often what appears to be sexually inappropriate conduct is really an expression of a non-sexual need, such as a need to use the restroom or a need for closeness.
If you cannot uncover a reason for the older person’s behavior, try these solutions:
- Redirect the person to an enjoyable hobby or activity like listening to music or looking at pictures in a photo album.
- Calmly, but immediately, locate a private area such as a bathroom or changing area if the older adult begins to undress in public.
- React to feelings of loneliness or a need for closeness with a caring pat or a hug and comforting conversation.
- Try increasing the amount of exercise or activity the senior gets.
- Think through practical solutions; for inappropriate undressing, buy special clothing designed with fasteners in the back for this specific reason, or try putting pants or dresses on backwards.
When responding to concerning behavior:
- Respond calmly and matter-of-factly. Arguing with or embarrassing the person can exacerbate the situation; try to be gentle and patient.
- Do not overreact in either direction. Providing too much affection may prompt unwanted sexual behavior, while shouting or shaming may scare or confuse the senior further.
- Discover a solution, whether it is a new setting that does not allow for the behavior to be a cause of concern, or a new activity that distracts from the behavior altogether.
For further help with managing the complicated aspects of dementia for someone you love, contact Effraim Home Care, one of the leading providers of home care in Ambler, PA and other nearby communities. Our caregivers are extensively trained and experienced in creative, effective dementia care practices, and we’re here to help whenever you need us. To learn more about the different areas we serve in Pennsylvania, please visit our Locations Served page.