Dementia Care Tip: How to Help Manage Rummaging Behaviors

Searching through bins, cabinets, and closets, taking out assorted items from drawers, and searching repetitively through a variety of items may be frustrating for those providing care for a senior with Alzheimer’s, but in fact these actions are fulfilling an objective. Rummaging can provide a measure of comfort for those with dementia, together with the reassurance of recognizing familiar objects and finding purpose and meaning.

The key then is not to deter rummaging, which might trigger agitation, but to better manage this behavior if it becomes troublesome. The following dementia care tips can help:

  • Keep rummaging to a specific area. Put together boxes of items the senior seems primarily interested in, such as keys, paperwork, a billfold, tools, gardening equipment, sewing implements, sports memorabilia, and so on. If the senior starts to rummage in other places, pull out one of the containers and direct his/her focus there.
  • Create a task aimed at rummaging behaviors. Let the senior know you could really use his/her assistance with a particular activity that utilizes these behaviors, such as folding towels or socks, sorting nuts/bolts in a toolbox, or inserting paperwork into folders.
  • Determine other stimulating activities to ease boredom. Rummaging could possibly be the consequence of feelings of uneasiness, loneliness, or boredom. Try out a variety of activities you can do with the senior, for example, arts or crafts, puzzles, taking a walk, listening to music, etc.
  • Keep valuables out of reach. Realizing that the senior has the predisposition to rummage, make certain that any important documents, jewelry, keys, credit cards, etc. are all kept safely away. It is also best to tuck away the mail when it is delivered, to make certain bills along with other items aren’t getting tossed or misplaced.
  • Step up security precautions. Now is a very good time to evaluate how hazardous objects are stored in your home, such as sharp knives, cleaning products, even certain kinds of foods like raw meat that the senior may unintentionally mistake for another food product and ingest. Keep all items which could potentially cause the senior injury in safe places, preferably locked away.

Seniorcorp can assist with the professional in-home care services that provide companionship and engagement in creative, pleasant, and fulfilling activities for anyone with dementia, leading to fewer challenging behaviors. Email or give us a call at 757-640-0557 for further dementia care information or to set up an in-home assessment to learn more about our senior services in Suffolk, VA and the surrounding communities.