How to Handle One of the Most Challenging Alzheimer’s Behaviors

caregiver consoling senior woman

Of the many Alzheimer’s behaviors that can be experienced, disinhibition is perhaps one of the most difficult to manage.

Awkwardness. Discomfort. Disbelief. Shame. All of these feelings can cycle through a family caregiver’s heart when a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease displays one of the most common Alzheimer’s behaviors – disinhibition – which can present as:

  • Rude or tactless comments
  • Inappropriate sexual advances or remarks
  • Removal of clothing at inappropriate times
  • And other socially unacceptable actions

The complex changes that occur to the brain in dementia can cause a complete turnaround in a senior’s personality and behaviors, such as a formerly genteel grandmother suddenly cursing like a sailor. For someone who is disoriented, uncomfortable, confused, or has simply forgotten social graces and skills, these behaviors are actually quite common, so it’s important to know how to best manage them if they arise in someone you love.

CareWorks Health Services’ dementia care experts recommend trying the following tactics:

  • See if there’s a solvable problem causing the behaviors, such as a physical illness, medication side effects, the need to use the rest room, environment-induced anxiety, etc.
  • Remind yourself that the dementia is to blame, and respond gently and patiently, without overreacting or lashing out in anger.
  • Help the senior remain engaged in appropriate activities according to his or her particular interests. If the person becomes agitated with a particular activity, switch to something else, or move to a different room in the home or outdoors if possible.
  • Pay attention to clothing choices if removing clothes at inappropriate times is a concern. If the senior has been wearing pants without zippers for ease and comfort, you may want to switch to something a little more difficult to remove when out in public, for example.
  • Be sure that all of the person’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.
  • Provide appropriate 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 alleviate anxiety.

It’s also helpful to ensure you have plenty of time for regular breaks to tend to your own self-care needs and alleviate the stress that is often inherent in caring for a loved one with dementia. CareWorks Health Services’ caregivers are fully trained and experienced in effective, compassionate dementia care in Huntington Beach and the surrounding areas, and are here for you with as much or as little respite care as needed. Call us at (949) 859-4700 for additional helpful resources or to schedule a free in-home consultation to learn more about how we can help.