Difficult Behaviors Associated with Dementia: Rummaging

Forgetful Senior Man With Dementia Looking In Cupboard At Home

One of the challenging behaviors associated with dementia is rummaging.

Looking through bins, cupboards, and closets, pulling out odds and ends from drawers, and sorting repetitively through many different items might be frustrating for people providing care for a loved one with dementia, but in reality these actions are fulfilling an objective. Rummaging may provide a measure of comfort for those with Alzheimer’s, through identifying familiar items and finding purpose and meaning.

The key then is not to discourage rummaging, which might lead to agitation, but to more effectively manage this behavior if it becomes troublesome. These tips will help:

  • Keep rummaging to a specific area. Assemble bins of items the individual seems particularly drawn to, such as keys, paperwork, a billfold, tools, gardening equipment, sewing implements, sports memorabilia, and so on. Whenever a family member begins to rummage in other areas, pull out one of the boxes and guide his/her focus there.
  • Develop an activity centered on rummaging behaviors. Let the older adult know you could really use his/her assistance with a specific activity that takes advantage of these behaviors, such as folding towels or socks, sorting nuts/bolts in a toolbox, or placing paperwork into folders.
  • Determine other stimulating activities to help remedy boredom. Rummaging could be the reaction to feelings of restlessness, loneliness, or boredom. Test out different activities you are able to recommend and do along with the senior, such as arts and crafts, puzzles, going on a walk, listening to music, etc.
  • Keep valuable items out of reach. Knowing that your senior loved one has the predisposition to rummage, make certain that any important documents, pieces of jewelry, keys, credit cards, etc. are all stored safely away. It is also a smart idea to tuck away the mail when it arrives, to make certain bills as well as other items aren’t getting tossed or misplaced.
  • Step up security precautions. Now is a great time to gauge how hazardous objects are stored in your home, such as sharp knives, cleaning products, even some types of foods like raw meat that a senior loved one may accidentally mistake for another food product and ingest. Keep all items that could potentially cause a senior loved one harm in secure locations, ideally locked away.

CareWorks Health Services, the experts in dementia care in Huntington Beach and the surrounding communities, can assist with the professional in-home care services that provide companionship and engagement in creative, enjoyable, and fulfilling activities that lead to fewer challenging behaviors associated with dementia. Give us a call at (949) 859-4700 for further dementia care resources or to schedule an in-home assessment to learn more about our services.