One of the Most Challenging Dementia Behaviors and How to Help

by JFS Care
dementia caregiver talking to client with alzheimer's
Effectively managing challenging dementia behaviors requires patience, skill, compassion, and creativity.

Awkwardness. Discomfort. Disbelief. Shame. Many of these feelings can cycle through a family caregiver’s heart when a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease displays disinhibited dementia behaviors, such as:

  • Tactless or rude comments
  • Unacceptable sexual remarks or advances
  • Removal of clothes at improper times
  • And other socially unacceptable actions

The complicated changes that occur to the brain in dementia could cause a complete turnaround in an older adult’s personality and behaviors, such as a formerly genteel grandfather unexpectedly swearing like a sailor. For a person who is uncomfortable, disoriented, confused, or has simply forgotten social graces and skills, these dementia behaviors are actually quite common, so it’s worthwhile to know how to best manage them if they arise in someone you love.

JFS Care’s dementia care professionals highly recommend trying the following tactics:

  • See if there is a solvable problem leading to the behaviors, such as a physical illness, medication side effects, the need to utilize the rest room, environment-induced anxiety, etc.
  • Remind yourself that the Alzheimer’s disease is to blame, and respond gently and patiently, without overreacting or lashing out in anger.
  • Help the senior remain engaged in appropriate activities in accordance with his/her specific ability level. In the event that the person becomes agitated with a specific activity, change to something else, or move to another room in the home or outside when 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 may want to switch to something a little bit more challenging to remove when out in public, for example.
  • Be certain that each of the senior’s physical needs are met to circumvent problematic behaviors. Maintain an ideal temperature in your house, keep plenty of healthy snacks and drinks handy, and encourage regular exercise and movement.
  • Offer appropriate physical contact often such as hugs, holding the person’s hand, or rubbing his/her back, when welcomed by the senior, communicating reassurance to relieve anxiety.

It’s also helpful to make certain you have ample time for frequent breaks to tend to your own self-care needs and ease the stress that is commonly inherent in being a caregiver for a senior loved one with dementia. JFS Care’s caregivers are thoroughly trained and experienced in effective, compassionate Alzheimer’s care, and are here for you with as much or as little respite care as necessary. Contact us at (213) 383-2273 for additional helpful resources, to schedule a complimentary in-home assessment, or to learn more about our professional home care services in Santa Monica and the surrounding areas. Visit our Service Area page to find out if we’re available to help in your area.