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Hypersexual behavior in Alzheimer’s Disease

When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, there is no predicting which direction the disease will take as far as symptoms go. Some parts of the disease can be embarrassing, disturbing, and even hinder his or her care.

For example, is your loved one fondling him or herself in public? Does he or she try to touch others or use rough language in public? Surely, these are embarrassing situations for all involved. That said, the disease might be what is triggering these outbursts.

Your senior might be suffering from the effects of hypersexuality, brought on by the disease. Hypersexuality occurs because of a loss of impulse control, a lost sense of what’s appropriate public or private behavior, or because of difficulty in reading others’ emotions.

Think back to a time before your loved one was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Was he or she overtly sexual? If not, chances are that this is an affectation of the disease. In order to deal with this affectation, you need to look at what happened just before the behavior took place and what happened just afterward. Perhaps there are clues or triggers that will help you out, as a caregiver and family member.

In the meantime, put the situation into perspective for your loved one. Calmly tell your loved one that the behavior he or she is exhibiting is not acceptable and escort him or her from the situation to a safe place. If that doesn’t stop the behavior, take your loved one home. Give him or her an enjoyable activity like working on a puzzle or watching a movie.

This kind of behavior can strike when your loved one has nothing better to do. If your loved one acts in a sexual way in front of a paid caregiver, there’s a good chance that will ruin the relationship and end their employment.

There are ways to help quell your loved one’s unwanted advances and outbursts. First, you should demand firm boundaries. Say “That’s not appropriate,” or “I don’t approve of that behavior.” You can also use nonverbal cues such as shaking your head and showing your displeasure in your face. If your loved one is your spouse, don’t allow one advance one day and blatantly turn down the next. Be consistent in your admonishments.

As mentioned earlier, keeping your loved one distracted or engaged in positive activities is the key to making sure that he or she isn’t acting out of boredom. If the problem becomes more unmanageable, take your loved one to the doctor to discuss his or her medications, as they may need to be changed.

Resources: Caring.com and Alzheimer’s Association