Alzheimers and Inappropriate Sexual Behavior
Handling Behavioral Changes With Dementia: Inappropriate Sexual Behavior
One of the most frustrating, and often one of the most difficult, behavioral symptoms of dementia to deal with is inappropriate sexual behavior. This can be embarrassing for caregivers and uncomfortable to deal with, but it is a common side effect of dementia and one that caregivers need to be prepared to handle, even if they believe that their loved one would never act in this manner. Unfortunately, due to the sensitive nature of this topic, handling inappropriate sexual behavior is often not discussed and many caregivers are not warned by health care providers about this side effect.
When it comes to handling this type of behavioral change, it is first important to remember that this is a side effect of the disease and if your loved one is saying or doing things that make you upset, frustrated or hurt, remember it is the disease talking. Because Alzheimers disease can damage the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain; the individual will be unable to control certain responses and can often lead to sexual disinhibition.
Keep in mind that in the early stages of Alzheimers disease many individuals who are sexually active can start to experience anger and frustration due to their inability to partake in their sexual activities as normal, and this can lead to inappropriate or sexual aggressive behaviors. They may forget proper etiquette, that they have just engaged in sexual relations or even how to proceed with sexual relations, which often causes a great deal of anger.
As Alzheimers progresses you may find that individual with this condition may undress themselves or attempt to undress themselves in public and they may even attempt to touch themselves sexually in an inappropriate or public setting. Typically this is due to hallucinations, delusions or confusion and disorientation. It is important to stay calm, help the person cover themselves and remove them from the situation.
You may also find that your loved one with dementia starts exhibiting aggressive sexual behaviors towards others, even to those they are related to as they may forget who this person is. In these situations it is once again important to stay calm, talk to them in a calm voice and explain to them what is going on and that the behavior is inappropriate. Yelling at the individual can only make them angry, frustrated or upset, so keeping a calm and collected demeanor when handling this uncomfortable situation is of the utmost importance.