As Alzheimer’s slowly robs self-awareness, the person becomes less inhibited, losing both memory of how he or she once behaved as well as a sense of social norms. It’s as if an internal filter on what’s polite behavior or not is turned off.
Here are some suggestions for a caregiver dealing with public misbehavior:
Know that some behaviors are not what they look like. People with dementia who are losing language skills often express themselves with actions.
Notice what else is going on when a behavior occurs. The environment may trigger a reaction in the form of inappropriate behavior.
Ignore these behaviors when possible. Reacting to them may only egg on or upset the person.
Try reacting to sexual behaviors counter intuitively by providing extra touching and affection—the person may be expressing nonsexual need for attention and human contact.
Distract by changing the scene or the activity.
Take strangers aside and explain the situation.
For chronic undressers, try difficult-to-remove clothing.
Don’t try to reason the person into proper behavior. The person with Alzheimer’s cannot follow the line of logic.