How to Best Manage Disinhibited Behaviors in Dementia
Awkwardness. Discomfort. Disbelief. Shame. All of these feelings can cycle through a family caregiver’s heart when a loved one with dementia showcases disinhibited behaviors, such as:
- Rude or tactless comments
- Unacceptable sexual advances or remarks
- Removal of clothes at improper times
- And other socially unacceptable actions
The complex changes that occur to the brain in Alzheimer’s and dementia can cause a complete turnaround in an older adult’s personality and behaviors, such as a formerly genteel grandfather who, without warning, starts swearing like a sailor. For a person who is uncomfortable, disoriented, confused, or has essentially forgotten social graces and skills, these behaviors are actually quite common. Consequently, it’s worthwhile to figure out how to best manage them should they arise in someone you love.
- See if there’s a solvable problem creating the behaviors, such as a physical illness, medication side effects, the need to use the rest room, environment-induced anxiety, etc.
- Remind yourself that Alzheimer’s is to blame, and respond gently and patiently, without overreacting or lashing out in frustration.
- Help the senior remain involved in appropriate activities in accordance with his or her individual interests. If the person becomes agitated with a specific activity, switch to something different, or move to an alternate room in the home or outdoors whenever possible.
- Pay attention to clothing choices, if removing clothes at inappropriate times is an issue. If the older adult happens to be wearing pants without zippers for comfort and ease, you might change to something a bit more challenging to remove when out in public, for example.
- Be sure that all of the senior’s physical needs are met to circumvent problematic behaviors. Maintain a comfortable temperature in the home, keep plenty of healthy snacks and drinks handy, and encourage regular physical activity and movement.
- Offer proper physical contact often in the form of hugs, holding the person’s hand, or rubbing his/her back, when welcomed by the senior, communicating reassurance to relieve anxiety.
It is also beneficial to make certain you have plenty of time for regular breaks to tend to your own personal self-care needs and ease the stress that is frequently inherent in taking care of an older adult with dementia. Sage Home Care’s Carmel caregiver team are all highly trained and experienced in effective, compassionate Alzheimer’s care, and are here for you with as much or as little respite care as necessary. Reach out to us at 1-800-578-4554 for additional helpful resources as well as to schedule a free in-home consultation to learn more about our top-rated home and memory care in Carmel and the surrounding areas.