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Sexuality and Alzheimer’s Disease

By , 7:19 pm on

Home Care Assistance provides home care West Bloomfield families trust, and we wanted to take the time to speak to a common, but sometimes overlooked aspect of Alzheimer’s care. Providing care to a parent with Alzheimer’s is accompanied by many challenges; however, changes in a parent’s sexual behavior are one challenge that often takes adult children by surprise. Although this subject can be uncomfortable for many people, it is reassuring to know that changes in sexual behavior are a common symptom of this disease. While changes in sexual behavior may range from undressing in public to overly aggressive behavior, there are several things that can be done to help your parent manage their behavior.

  • Remain Calm – Although it can be upsetting when your parent displays inappropriate sexual behavior, it is important to try to avoid overreacting. At the first sign of an inappropriate action, stay calm and remind yourself that it is a symptom of their Alzheimer’s disease. Then, gently use distraction or reminders to guide them back to more appropriate behavior. Sometimes, a soothing touch or gentle word is enough to stop behavior in its tracks.
  • Redirect Toward Acceptable Behavior – Over time, you will begin to anticipate times when your parent may engage in sexual behavior and be able to redirect them before it gets out of control. For example, a father who often mistakes his daughter for his wife can be gently reminded of the real relationship by calling him “Dad” during a greeting. Giving your parent something to hold while bathing and dressing can help to thwart fondling, and playing soft music can calm a senior adult who sexually aggressive.
  • Talk to a Professional – Sometimes, inappropriate sexual behavior is related to a change in a senior adult’s medication or health. For this reason, it is always best to report any new or unusual behaviors to a member of your parent’s medical team. If this symptom is hard for you to handle emotionally, then it may also be helpful to speak to a therapist or join a support group for adult child caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.
  • Seek Respite – There are options available for hourly care in West Bloomfield, as well as options for overnight or 24 hour care if you need to catch up on sleep or simply need to recuperate from your caregiving duties. While these new changes may be challenging, taking care of yourself will allow you to provide your parent with the best of care throughout each stage of their Alzheimer’s.

If you provide care for an aging parent with Alzheimer’s, know that you are not alone. Reach out to one of our friendly and devoted Care Managers at 248-283-0835 and learn more about our West Bloomfield Alzheimer’s caregivers, services and customized plans of care.