Tags: alzheimers | caregivers | inappropriate sexual behavior

Understanding Alzheimer's Disease & Inappropriate Sexual Behavior

A graphic illustration with the words Alzheimer's Disease on it

By    |   Monday, 28 January 2019 04:59 PM

Approximately 5.7 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and caregivers provide an estimated 18.4 billion hours of care yearly, valued at over $232 billion. These startling statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association highlight the burden assigned to caregivers for those afflicted with the deadly disease.

However, little is said about the terrible toll Alzheimer’s can take on the intimacy between two people going through the difficulty of dealing with the disorder.

“Very often, the Alzheimer’s patient may display inappropriate sexual behavior that can be upsetting and embarrassing for the caregiver,” Dr. Judy Kuriansky, a world-renowned clinical psychologist tells Newsmax. “It’s important to understand that this behavior is part of the disease and not something the patient comprehends.”

For example, people afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease may show more interest in sex than before, much to the embarrassment of their loved ones. They may inappropriately try to touch, hug or kiss others, even strangers. They may undress in public, go outside naked, or use coarse or vulgar language.

This behavior is due to the changes in their brain because of the disease, and it’s not your fault or their fault, says Kuriansky. When these uncomfortable situations arise, it’s important to stay calm, she says.

“Even though it is very distressing to see your loved one act in a manner that is unacceptable, do not yell or shout or raise your voice. This will only raise your blood pressure and upset them further.”

One strategy she recommends if your loved one tends to wander off is always have clothing with you.

“Even if he or she has never disrobed in public before, bring along a trench coat or other articles of clothing and calmly cover them up,” she advises.

And set boundaries.

“Many times, the patient exhibits sexual behavior but it’s not really about sex,” says Kuriansky. “Gently distract them to another activity such as taking a walk or asking them to help you make the bed.”

If they make sexual advances to strangers or touch others in unwanted ways, gently remind them that this isn’t okay. Be consistent in letting them know this isn’t acceptable behavior. Try to meet their needs for affection and touch every day.

“Touch is extremely healing,” says the expert, who is also the author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sex.”

“You can brush their hair or massage their feet but be sure to set boundaries. Very often allowing them to stroke a pet or even a cuddly teddy bear is helpful. That is why many nursing homes allow therapy or service dogs to visit to help fill the need of contact comfort.”

If your partner makes sexual demands, again, set boundaries. You shouldn’t give in to your partner’s sexual demands if you don’t want to. Turn down any unwanted advances in a firm but respectful way so that your partner won’t get upset.

If the patient starts an intimate relationship in a nursing home, alert the staff and let them handle it.

“They are familiar and equipped to deal with situations like this,” says Kuriansky.

To prevent further problems, WebMD recommends:

  • Limit the changes in your loved one’s life. The changes can make them confused and lead to new or different sexual behavior.
  • Spend time with them. Keep them entertained by looking at photo albums, playing board games, or going for a walk.
  • Provide physical touch. Holding their hands or giving a back rub helps fulfill their need for physical touch.
  • Avoid situations that may trigger the behavior. Try to pay attention to what happened before the unwanted sexual incident occurred.

“I always advise caregivers to join a support group,” says Kuriansky. “It’s crucial to discuss your concerns with others who can relate to your situation and perhaps offer sage advice. Often, just knowing you are not alone and that the sexual behavior is not uncommon, is reassuring and helpful.”

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Approximately 5.7 million people are living with Alzheimer's disease, and caregivers provide an estimated 18.4 billion hours of care yearly, valued at over $232 billion. These startling statistics from the Alzheimer's Association highlight the burden assigned to caregivers...
alzheimers, caregivers, inappropriate sexual behavior
Monday, 28 January 2019 04:59 PM
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