Send Solution – Sexual Inappropriateness

Individuals living with dementia may become sexually inappropriate at times. This can be frustrating to family members and cause problems with paid care partners.  Understanding the reasons for some of these actions can be very helpful. Watch this video and explore the root causes below to learn more.

Root Causes

Click on the question if you feel it could apply to your situation to see the associated answer.

Health & Physical Related Causes And Possible Solutions

Paranoia is common with dementia and may cause a person to not want anyone else helping them.

While hallucinations and paranoia are often seen in Alzheimer’s patients, they could still be suffering from other psychiatric illnesses not associated with the disease which could make them distrustful of others. An evaluation from a psychiatrist may be helpful to determine if this is the case and help determine if medication would be helpful.

Side effects from medications could cause confusion, paranoia and other cognitive issues that may have a role in a person refusing help. Has the person recently started taking a new drug, either prescribed or over the counter (like cough or cold drugs or a sleep medication)?   Check with their physician or their pharmacist to see if this is a possible issue. Be sure to mention over the counter medications.  Also, be sure they are taking the correct amount of medication and at the right time.

Examine the head and face to check for cuts, bumps or bruises.  Sudden changes in the patient’s alertness level may be a sign of head trauma. Undocumented falls are common. Speak to their physician if you suspect there could be any damage to the head area.

Dehydration or insufficient fluid intake can cause confusion. Make sure the person is taking in enough non-caffeinated fluids. Offer fluids frequently or have fluids easily accessible to the individual in small bottles or sippy cups.. If they will not drink enough, you can also use fruit, popsicles, jello or other fluid rich foods.

Environmental Causes & Possible Solutions

People with dementia sometimes suffer from seeing things differently than people without dementia.  Make sure there is adequate lighting, especially in the evening. It may require brighter lighting than you feel is necessary. Objects that may not be recognized due to poor lighting can often scare a person or cause them to think an object is missing.The individual may then be less receptive to having another person help them. 

Things such as wind, tree branches or the shadow of a stuffed animal can cause a person to think there is someone breaking into their home and stealing. Consider all possibilities.

Changes or disruptions in their environment can cause confusion and paranoia. This is particularly true with hospitalizations or moves into a facility. If there must be a change, include familiar objects from their old environment, such as pictures, trinkets, blankets etc.

Busy areas with a lot of people moving around with a lot of noise can overwhelm a person and make them less receptive to having someone there to help. Consider a quieter environment, including using soothing music and turning the TV off,  to see if that helps.

Additional Tips

  • Look to make the person feel comfortable and secure. Their world is one which is very confusing and suspicious. It makes no sense.  Speak in a calm, friendly voice. Use their name. Gentle touch, if accepted by the person, can help them feel reassured. Familiar daily routines and a structured day can also provide a sense of security.
  • Avoid arguing…Arguing will only escalate the behavior.
  • Don’t try to insist they need help, rather find another reason for you to be there.
  • Certain types of dementia are known for having delusions and paranoia. Sometimes it is simply the disease taking its course. Be as understanding and patient as possible.
  • Do not take accusations personally.
  • Distract and redirect. 
  • Use a fiblet or therapeutic fib when appropriate, For example, try asking them to help you with something.

Forum Topics

Search for the topic you are interested in or click on one of the topics below to view our Forum questions and Answers. Here you can also post a question for the community to respond to