Disbelief. Shame. Awkwardness. Discomfort. All of these feelings can cycle through a family caregiver’s heart when a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease showcases disinhibited behaviors, such as:
- Tactless or rude comments
- Inappropriate sexual advances or remarks
- Removal of clothing at improper times
- And other socially unacceptable actions
The complicated changes that occur to the brain in Alzheimer’s can cause a complete turnaround in an older adult’s personality and behaviors, such as a formerly genteel grandfather suddenly cursing like a sailor. For someone who is uncomfortable, disoriented, confused, or has essentially forgotten social skills and graces, these behaviors are actually quite common. Consequently, it’s important to understand how to best manage them should they occur in someone you love.
- See if there is a solvable problem causing the behaviors, such as a physical illness, medication complications, the need to utilize 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 continue to be engaged in appropriate activities based on his or her specific interests. In the event that the individual becomes agitated with a particular activity, change to something else, or move to a new room in the home or outside if possible.
- Pay attention to clothing choices, if removing clothes at inappropriate times is a concern. If the older adult happens to be wearing pants without zippers for comfort and ease, you might switch to something a bit more difficult to remove when out in public.
- Be certain that all the individual’s physical needs are met to avoid problematic behaviors. Maintain a comfortable temperature in the house, keep a number of healthy snacks and drinks handy, and support regular exercise and movement.
- Provide proper physical contact frequently 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 important to make certain that you have plenty of time for consistent breaks to tend to your own self-care needs and alleviate the stress that is often inherent in looking after seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Seniorcorp, providers of senior home care and support for hospice in Virginia Beach, VA and surrounding areas, can provide caregivers who are fully trained and experienced in effective, compassionate Alzheimer’s care, and are here for you with as much or as little respite care as necessary. Call us at 757.640.0557 for additional helpful resources or to schedule a free in-home consultation for more information about how we can assist.