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How to Handle Inappropriate Behaviors in Alzheimer’s Disease

February 13, 2023
caregiver redirecting senior with Alzheimer's

Some inappropriate behaviors in Alzheimer’s disease can be extremely difficult to manage, but these tips can help.


Alzheimer’s is a complex medical condition that often brings with it complex issues for family caregivers. As the disease advances, communication shifts to behaviors instead of speech, and in many cases manifests as inappropriate behaviors in Alzheimer’s disease. For instance, a senior with more advanced Alzheimer’s disease may present the following:

  • Combativeness and aggression
  • Inappropriate sex-related behavior such as:
    • Getting undressed or touching themselves in public
    • Utilizing lewd or obscene language
    • Jealous allegations that a spouse is having an affair
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression

These behaviors can be uncomfortable or disturbing for Alzheimer’s caregivers. They may also be quite confusing and aggravating for the senior with Alzheimer’s, as he or she probably doesn’t understand why the behavior is viewed as inappropriate or why it is distressing to others.

It is vitally important to bear in mind that any difficult behaviors the senior displays are the result of the disease — or potentially other health concerns or medications — not a representation of the person’s character. Also, often what seems like sexually inappropriate behavior is really an expression of a non-sexual need, such as a need to use the bathroom or a need for closeness.

If you cannot uncover a reason for the person’s behavior, try these reactions:

  • Redirect the person to a favorite hobby or activity like listening to music or looking through pictures in a photo album.
  • Calmly, but immediately, locate a private area like a bathroom or changing area if the older person feels the need to undress in public.
  • Respond to feelings of loneliness or a need to be close with a caring pat or a hug and soothing conversation.
  • Try increasing the amount of exercise or activity the person is engaging in.
  • Consider practical solutions; for inappropriate undressing, purchase special clothing created with fasteners in the back for this specific reason, or try putting pants or dresses on backwards.

What’s the best way to handle inappropriate behaviors in Alzheimer’s disease?

  • Respond quietly and matter-of-factly. Quarreling with or embarrassing the senior can worsen the situation; try to be gentle and patient.
  • Don’t overreact in either direction. Providing too much affection may encourage unwanted sexual behavior, while yelling or shaming may frighten or confuse the senior even further.
  • Change things up. This could mean moving to a new setting where the behavior is not a source of concern, or starting a new activity that distracts from the behavior altogether.

For further assistance with managing the difficult aspects of dementia for a senior you love, contact Home Matters Caregiving. Our caregivers are extensively trained and experienced in effective dementia care practices, and we’re here to help whenever you need us. Reach out to us at 800-298-5140 to learn more about our professional home care services and the areas we serve.

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About the author

Tyler Williams

As an Area Owner and Operator of a Home Matters Caregiving franchise, I am committed to ensuring exceptional outcomes for our valued clients and caregivers. My passion for elevating our service quality is matched by my role as a blogger and social media manager for the franchise, where I share insights, updates, and foster community engagement. Prior to senior care, I used my strategic communication and brand development skills as the Marketing Director of a regional bank. My diverse experience supports my commitment to excellence and innovation in both healthcare and digital communication.
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