Reducing inappropriate behaviors

Hello everyone,

Since we recently received a question from one of our study participants about how to deal with sexually inappropriate behaviors exhibited by some residents with dementia, we thought we would address this in a tidbit to give you all some strategies for how to respond when this happens at your nursing home.

This information comes from the Nursing Home Toolkit

Examples of sexually inappropriate behaviors include socially unacceptable behaviors toward self in public (such as disrobing, fondling and masturbating) and inappropriate behaviors directed at others (such as sexually explicit comments and inappropriate touching). Behaviors that are considered sexually inappropriate may be related to the human need for intimacy, although it may also be triggered by something in the environment such as suggestive television programs.

When a resident is exhibiting behaviors that are sexually inappropriate, remain calm and professional and gently—yet firmly—redirect the behavior by telling the person it is inappropriate and unacceptable.

When responding to these behaviors:

  • Let the person know how their behavior affects you and others. For example, “Mr. Jones, I don’t like it when you take your pants down. It makes the other nurses and me very uncomfortable.”
  • If the behavior persists, walk away and tell the resident, “I will come back once you stop exposing yourself so I can take care of you. Right now I am uncomfortable staying here.”

Some strategies to reduce sexually inappropriate behaviors include:

  • Redirect behavior through the use of food, drink or conversation.
  • Distract the person through activities that have meaning for the person and involve the use of the person’s hands, such as exercise or folding towels.
  • Provide stuffed animals to the person for grasping/fondling.
  • To help prevent disrobing and masturbation, choose clothing for the person to wear that opens in the back.
  • Identify and try to eliminate any triggers to the behavior.

As always, please feel free to share your experiences with us, and what has worked for you to help you deal with these challenges.

 Have a great week!

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