Tips to Help Manage Dementia Rummaging Behaviors

by JFS Care
Dementia rummaging behaviors can be effectively managed before becoming disruptive.

Looking through bins, cupboards, and closets, pulling out assorted items from drawers, and sorting repetitively through a plethora of items could be frustrating for anyone providing care for a member of the family with Alzheimer’s, but in fact these behaviors are fulfilling an objective. Rummaging can grant a degree of comfort for those with dementia, together with the reassurance of identifying familiar objects and finding purpose and meaning.

The key then is not to discourage dementia rummaging, which can trigger agitation, but to more effectively manage this behavior if it becomes disruptive. The following tips will help:

  • Keep rummaging to a controlled area. Put together containers of items your senior loved one seems especially drawn to, such as keys, paperwork, a wallet, tools, gardening equipment, sewing implements, sports memorabilia, etc. As soon as the senior begins to rummage in other locations, take out one of the containers and guide his or her attention there.
  • Organize a task centered on rummaging behaviors. Let the older adult know you could really use his or her assistance with a particular 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 tasks to alleviate boredom. Rummaging might be the response to feelings of uneasiness, loneliness, or boredom. Try out different activities you can recommend and do with the senior, including arts or crafts, puzzles, going on a walk, listening to music, etc.
  • Keep valuable items out of reach. Knowing that your loved one has the tendency to rummage, see to it that any important documents, pieces of jewelry, keys, credit cards, etc. are all stored securely away. It is also a good idea to tuck away the mail when it arrives, to make sure bills and other items are not getting tossed or misplaced.
  • Step up safety precautions. Now is a very good time to evaluate how hazardous objects are stored in your house, such as sharp knives, cleaning products, even certain types of foods, for example, raw meat that the senior may accidentally mistake for another food product and ingest. Keep all items which might cause the senior harm in secure locations, preferably locked away.

JFS Care can assist with the professional in-home care services that provide engagement and companionship in creative, enjoyable, and fulfilling activities for anyone with Alzheimer’s that lead to fewer challenging behaviors. Contact us online or at 213-383-2273 for further dementia care resources or to schedule an in-home assessment to learn more about our top-rated dementia care in Los Angeles and the surrounding communities.