June 19, 2020

Forgetful Senior Man With Dementia Looking In Cupboard At Home

Continuum offers advice on how to manage rummaging behaviors.

Searching through bins, cabinets, and closets, taking out odds and ends from drawers, and sorting repetitively through a variety of items may be frustrating for those providing care for a member of the family with dementia, but in fact these rummaging behaviors are fulfilling an objective. Rummaging behaviors may offer a measure of comfort for individuals with dementia, with the comfort of recognizing familiar objects and finding purpose and meaning.

One of the keys then is not to deter rummaging, that may trigger agitation, but to better manage this behavior if it becomes troublesome. The following tips will help:

  • Keep rummaging to a controlled area. Assemble bins of items your senior loved one seems primarily drawn to, such as keys, paperwork, a wallet, tools, gardening equipment, sewing implements, sports memorabilia, and so on. As soon as a loved one starts to rummage in other areas, pull out one of the bins and guide his or her attention there.
  • Organize a task aimed at rummaging behaviors. Let the senior know you could really use his or her assistance with a specific activity that utilizes these behaviors, like  folding towels or socks, sorting nuts/bolts in a toolbox, or placing paperwork into folders.
  • Come up with other stimulating tasks to ease boredom. Rummaging may be the consequence of feelings of restlessness, loneliness, or boredom. Test out a variety of activities you can easily encourage and do together with the senior, for example, arts and crafts, puzzles, going on a walk, journaling, listening to music, etc.
  • Keep valuables out of reach. Understanding that the senior has the propensity to rummage, be certain that any important documents, jewelry, keys, credit cards, etc. are all kept safely away. It’s also best to tuck away the mail when it is delivered, to make sure bills and other items are not getting tossed or misplaced.
  • Step up security precautions. Now is a very good time to gauge how dangerous items are stored in your home, for example, sharp knives, cleaning products, even some kinds of foods including raw meat that the individual may accidentally mistake for another food product and ingest. Keep all items that may cause a loved one harm in secure places, ideally locked away.

Continuum, providers of dementia care in Creve Couer, MO and the surrounding area, can help with the professional in-home care services that offer companionship and engagement in creative, satisfying, and fulfilling activities for those with dementia that lead to fewer challenging behaviors. Contact us at 314.863.9912 for additional dementia care information or to set up an in-home assessment for more information on our services.