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How To Deal With Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour In Dementia

Dealing With Masturbation In Public

3 Ways to Handle to Sexually Inappropriate Behavior as a Symptom of Dementia

People with dementia who masturbate in public may have lost their inhibitions or simply forgotten the social conventions which dictate that it should be done in private. They are merely doing what feels good. However, to prevent other people from being shocked, you could try to persuade the person with dementia to do something else, distract them or give them something to fiddle with such as a handkerchief. If this does not work, you should try to lead the person away from the public area. Be careful though that they do not interpret this as restraint, as it could lead to an over-reaction .

Why Is The Person With Dementia Mistaking A Person For Someone Else

Dementia can cause changes to a persons perception of situations, people and things. As a result, the person with dementia may mistake people for others, which can be distressing for everyone involved.

If your partner mistakes someone else for you, and behaves sexually or affectionately towards them, it is natural that you will feel upset. Try to approach the situation in a way that maintains the dignity of the person with dementia as much as possible.

What Can You Do Is A Person With Dementia Is Aggressive

If the level or threat of physical force is difficult to manage, it is important that you still feel safe. If you do not feel safe, it is best to remove yourself from the situation and seek help. There are professionals and organisations who can support you, for example the non-emergency police line on 101, the Samaritans or Refuge .

If you feel that there is an immediate risk of violence to yourself or others then you should call the police by dialling 999. You may feel uncomfortable or guilty about doing this, however it is very important that you and others are safe.

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Consent Capacity And Protection

Simply having a diagnosis of dementia doesnt mean that someone lacks mental capacity to give consent. Capacity is always specific to a particular decision at a particular time.

Partners should learn to recognise what the person with a dementia might be trying to communicate in relation to;their consent to intimacy. This can include non-verbal messages.

Sometimes the person with dementia might find it difficult to understand the needs of their partner and to understand that their partner doesnt consent to sex.

It is important that their partner responds in a way thats clear, but sensitive so the person doesnt feel rejected or unloved. Think about other ways to show affection, such as holding hands or hugging.

Avoiding Inappropriate Sexual Contact

Dad has started acting out sexually in public

Hugging: It may feel unnatural to avoid hugging someone you deeply care about, but people with dementia may become confused and mistake your display of affection as sexual in nature and then you might experience wandering hands. How do you correct this? Put space between you and the other person through this method:

  • Instead of hugging, stop when you are within arms reach of the person and raise your hands as if you are gesturing stop. Make eye contact and smile. Remember, body language is key to communicating with a person with dementia.
  • Encourage the person with dementia to raise their hands and make contact with yours, palm to palm. Your goal is to interlace fingers.
  • Once you have control through the holding of their hands, lean in to touch cheek to cheek, or through a kiss on the cheek. Kissing mouth to mouth may encourage sexual advances.
  • Do not linger once the embrace is finished. Step away and release the hands.
  • This allows the person with dementia to touch you, the person that they care about, without touching you where they shouldnt.

    Distract Attention: To avoid inappropriate touching from a person with dementia, try to distract their attention. Start with these steps:

  • Ask a question.
  • Turn on the music that they like.
  • Offer to go for a walk.
  • Ask if they want to engage in their favorite hobby.
  • Guide the person to another area.
  • Never physically fight the person with dementia. If you feel you are at risk of physical harm, you may need to call in assistance.

    Read Also: How Long Can Someone Live With Dementia

    Dementia And Inappropriate Sexual Behavior

    Elizabeth Galik, PhD, CRNP, FAAN

    Elizabeth Galik, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, associate professor at University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore, where she also teaches in the adult and geriatric nurse practitioner program. She specializes in the neuropsychiatric care of older adults with dementia and practices clinically as a nurse practitioner in community and long-term-care settings.

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    Sexual feelings dont have an expiration date. Older adults are still sexual beings, and many maintain their interest in sex into their 80s and 90s. But for people with dementia, these impulses can go awry when cognitive and personality changes lead to inappropriate sexual behavior .

    Examples: Disrobing in front of otherspublic masturbationuninhibited sexual talkor the inappropriate or unwanted touching of health-care workers, other patients or even family members.

    Some 5% to 20% of dementia patients exhibit some degree of ISB at some point during the course of their illness. Its more common in group-living situations . It affects both men and women , and it can occur with all forms of dementia, such as those caused by Alzheimers disease, frontotemporal dementia and vascular diseases, traumatic brain injury and others.

    What Causes These Behaviours

    There are many reasons why behaviours change. Every person with dementia is an individual who will react to circumstances in their own way. Sometimes the behaviour may be related to changes taking place in the brain. In other instances, there may be events or factors in the environment triggering the behaviour. In some instances a task may be too complex. Or the person may not be feeling well.;

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    Take Immediate And Calm Action

    When working with a person with dementia, especially when it involves corrections, your method should always include a calm demeanor as well as firmness.

    People living with dementia typically understand, notice, and react to body language much better than they do verbal commands.

    When inappropriate behavior occurs, make comments such as, No, that is not right! or, No, that is not acceptable! but also include body language such as a frown on your face, or shaking your head to gain attention.

    Be consistent. Confusion may develop if you ignore inappropriate sexual behavior but later attempt to correct it.

    Do Not Get Angry Or Upset

    HOW TO Manage Sexually Inappropriate Behavior in People with Dementia

    When looking after persons with dementia, practicing self-control is of utter importance. Learn how to breathe in and just relax without taking things personally or getting angry and upset. Remember that dementia patients do not act the way they do out of their own accord. It is the illness that makes them behave the way they do.

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    Do Not Try To Stop A Person Who Wants To Leave A Room

    Staying in one place for long periods may result in behavior problems in the dementia patient. It is essential to have a safe environment where they can enjoy the outdoors without any problem. When someone tries to leave a room, do not force them to stop. Doing this may result in an extreme reaction such as severe distress or injuries.

    Instead, it is best to accompany the patient so that they are safe. You can even suggest going for a drive around the block so that they can experience a new environment for a short period. If they do not want company, just let them go but stay close by to make sure that the patient is safe at all times.

    How To Handle Different Situations

    If your loved one takes off their clothes, touches themselves, or masturbates in front of others: This may not mean they want sex. Itâs often a sign that theyâre uncomfortable or need to use the restroom. It could also be that they used to walk around naked or masturbate when they lived alone, and itâs only a problem now that theyâre around others more.

    Stay calm. If theyâve taken off their clothes, help them put them back on. To distract them, give them something to do with their hands, offer them a snack, or get them involved with an activity they like. If this doesnât work, take them somewhere private. Ask others around you to excuse their behavior. Donât fight or hold them back — this could make them angry and cause them to act out.

    If this happens more than once, try to figure out why. Are they too hot or cold? Do they need to use the bathroom? Do they have skin irritation? Are they uncomfortable in their clothes? Are they in pain? Are they confused about where they are?

    You could try to have them wear clothes that donât have a zipper or that close in the back. It might be helpful to give them private time each day when they can masturbate or go nude. If you notice signs of pain, discomfort, or skin irritation that donât get better, call your doctor.

    Donât hold your loved one back unless you have to. This could hurt you or them, and could make them angrier.

    Recommended Reading: What Is A Memory Test For Dementia

    Articles On Behavior Problems With Dementia And Alzheimer’s

    Many times, people with Alzheimerâs still have their sex drive. But changes in their brains can make them act in ways that are new or different for them.

    For example, they may show more interest in sex than before. They may touch, hug, or try to kiss others, even strangers. They might touch their private areas, masturbate around others, or try to touch other peopleâs private areas.

    They may use vulgar language or make sexual advances. They may take their clothes off around others or come out naked or in their underwear.

    This behavior may surprise you, but remember that it isnât their fault. Itâs caused by the effects of the disease on their brain. It may help you not feel hurt or embarrassed to remind yourself and others of this.

    It isnât usually an emergency. You can often manage it at home.

    Suggestions On Handling Sexually Inappropriate Behavior

    Too Touchy: Inappropriate Sexual Behaviors

    Diversion is the easiest tactic. Change the subject, clap your hands, turn on the television or music, call out to someone across the room, ask a question anything that will disrupt their thinking. Physically move your loved one. Guide them away or, if they uses a wheelchair, move themRead More

    Read Also: Is Reading Good For Dementia

    Dementia And Challenging Sexual Behaviour

    A person with dementia may experience changes in how they respond to sex, be inappropriate or aggressive, mistake a person for someone else, or behave sexually in public. There are ways to manage challenging behaviour.;

    Dementia can cause a person to behave in a ‘sexual’ way that they and;people around them may find challenging.

    A person with dementia may experience changes in how they respond to sex, be inappropriate or aggressive, mistake a person for someone else, or behave sexually in public.;These situations can be difficult to understand or deal with, particularly if the person with dementia is your partner.

    What Causes Sexually Inappropriate Behavior In Dementia

    It might seem strange that someone you once knew as proper or respectful might suddenly be showing sexually inappropriate behavior.

    The most important thing to understand is that this behavior is caused by damage in their brain, its not something theyre doing on purpose. Dementia affects parts of the brain that control a persons ability to control their own responses. Thats why its important to learn how to distract and redirect them to more appropriate activities.

    A person with dementia could act in sexually inappropriate ways toward their spouse, their own children, professional caregivers, or strangers. They are likely to be confused about who a person is or might have forgotten that they already have a spouse. They may become angry or upset if they feel rejected.

    Inappropriate sexual behavior could be caused by a need to feel intimacy again, needing comfort, or being bored. Sometimes, people with dementia may even take off their clothes or masturbate in public. This could be caused by disorientation not knowing theyre not in a private place. Or, it could be because theyre uncomfortable or need to use the toilet.

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    Do Not Ignore Physical Abuse

    As much as one needs to be tolerant, kind, forgiving, and patient with older adults who have dementia, it does not mean that they have to excuse the patients when they become physically aggressive and allow the abuse to continue. It is not to be accepted, and if it happens, it is best to alert your doctor who will work on the solution to make sure it stops. It will keep both the patient and caregiver in safety.

    From physical manifestations to angry outbursts, taking care of an individual with dementia may not be easy. However, working with the tips above can help caregivers and loved ones to get through it. Remember that there are plenty of treatments, interventions and special care providers who can help; therefore, you should never be shy about getting help when you need it.

    Attitudes To Older People Involving Dementia And Sex

    Caregiver Training: Sexually Inappropriate Behaviors | UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program

    Sexual issues in relation to older people and sex are seldom discussed. Despite there being much more openness generally in society it is something that many people find difficult to talk about. Discussing personal desires and feelings can be difficult between partners, never mind between adult children and parents, relatives, friends and social care professionals.;

    The fact that the media present it as if it is only for the young, and older people having a sex life as something of a joke does not help. Also, you may feel shame or embarrassment because of uninhibited behaviour.

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    Behavior Changes With Dementia

    As we continue our series on behavior changes with dementia, we will focus on aggression, hallucinations, refusal to bathe and eat, depression and anxiety, and paranoia.

    If you are a caregiver and would like to talk about the best options for the future, give us a call at 512-399-5089. We can help you through every step of the way.


    What To Do If The Person With Dementia Makes An Inappropriate Sexual Advance

    Try to remain calm and gently inform the person that the advance is not welcome, suggesting that they have perhaps made a mistake. Dont take the advance personally or feel that you are in some way responsible. It is the result of the disease, not something that you have done. It is possible that the person with dementia has confused you with someone else. For example, a man with dementia might confuse his daughter with his wife, because his daughter looks like his wife did when she was younger and he has a persisting memory of his wife in her youth. If the person with dementia makes an inappropriate advance, it is a good idea to discuss what happened with someone you can trust. Even if you feel that you handled the situation well, you might not realise that it has affected you.

    Also Check: Does Alzheimer Disease Run In The Family

    Do Not Shy Away From Asking For Help

    No one may have all the answers especially when it comes to taking care of a person with dementia. Try doing research on how their behavior changes and what needs to be done to help them live their lives without too many complications. Hire help when it becomes too much as it also ensures that you do not become too frustrated or drained. When you have multiple family members who can help, ask everyone to pitch in and look after the patient so that you can get some personal space to breathe and re-energize when it is your time to look after the patient. When you feel like you can no longer look after your loved one at your own home, it may be time to consider assisted living. In such case, look into dementia care homes that can provide specially trained professionals.

    Ways To Cope With Alzheimers And Sexually Inappropriate Behavior

    3 Ways to Handle to Sexually Inappropriate Behavior as a ...

    Each person will respond differently to these responses and interventions. Thats why weve included lots of suggestions and tips experiment to see which ones work for your older adult.

    1. Manage inappropriate behavior when it happens

    • Stay calm and be patient.
    • Gently but firmly tell the person that the behavior is inappropriate.
    • Match your body language to your words frown and shake your head. People with dementia are better at reading nonverbal cues.
    • Maintain consistent, firm boundaries. Dont accidentally encourage inappropriate behavior by sending mixed signals, like briefly allowing the behavior one time and then reacting negatively the next time. Be consistently firm every time, saying No, stop. I dont like that. or Stop, thats not right.
    • Distract them and redirect to a positive activity. To distract, ask a question, turn on the TV, or offer a snack. To redirect, turn on some music they like, go for a walk, bring out their favorite hobby
    • Move your older adult to another location. This takes them away from whats triggering their behavior. Guide them to a quiet area in a public place or to their bedroom at home.
    • If nothing else works, shock them a bit by raising your voice and firmly saying No! Grab their hands and put them back in their lap. Look them in the eye, frown, and shake your head to let them know this behavior will not be tolerated.

    2. Explain sexual behavior to other people

    Additional tips for spouses:

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