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.