5 Ways to Cope With a Dementia Stripper

Disinhibition -- a lack of normal social restraint, which can affect some people as Alzheimer's or similar forms of dementia progress -- can make the person want to remove clothing inappropriately, whether in public or at home. Often this impulse stems from a lack of comfort: The clothes being worn are itchy or the wearer is too hot or cold, for example. Or the person may simply feel bored or socially uncomfortable.

How to cope with a disinhibited stripper? Some ideas:

  1. Replace existing clothing with garments that are difficult to remove without help, such as jumpsuits or tops with back zippers. Search online for Alzheimer's clothing to find helpful options.

  2. Pay attention to signals. Your loved one may start to tug at a zipper or fumble with buttons when feeling uncomfortable.

  3. Keep calm. That can be a tall order when your loved one is getting naked in a restaurant. But your emotional tone can keep things on an even keel. If you shout or chastise, you risk agitating the person and facing him or her being half-naked and belligerent, too.

    SEE ALSO: Find Memory Care Near You

  4. In public, keep a shawl or extra sweater handy that you can throw around the person if you're too late or other efforts fail.

  5. Make sure you've identified the right issue. Sometimes men with dementia who also have a prostate or other urological problem may be pulling down pants before reaching the bathroom simply because they have urge incontinence -- an urgent need to go.


over 2 years ago, said...

Really like the tip concerning the shawl. Thanks for a simple solution for this problem.


over 2 years ago, said...

When my Dad was going through this behavior, his memory care home had a staff member who recommended two items that helped a lot....we bought him lounge pants, that had a drawstring tie, but put them on backwards, with the tie tied snugly and then hidden inside the waist band, and in winter, we bought him overalls. They kept him warm, but he had difficulties with the various buttons and loops and hooks, and so it was easy to spot when he was trying to get them off and then divert his attention to something else, or sometimes, it was the need for the toilet. At that time they also started taking him to the toilet every 2-3 hours regularly and not giving much to drink after dinner etc, because he would also get up and urinate in the corner of his room, since he could not find the bathroom in the place by himself. The clothing still works, if he reverts for a day or so to the same behavior.


over 3 years ago, said...

My husband keeps unbuttoning his shirts and pulling on clothing and bedding. This gives me an idea why he is doing this. The hint about clothing having zippers or buttons in the back was really helpful. Thank You.


over 3 years ago, said...

My dear 96 year old mother's days are limited, her decline is now quite rapid. She has started eating her hands and fingers. It's hard to know the reason for this behaviour. I saw a programme on captive bears recently and an older bear began to eat her leg. The bear was euthanized as the wounds were too severe and stopping her from mutilating herself was impossible. The veterinary team came to the conclusion that the bear was deeply depressed and instinctively wanted to commit suicide. I'm not saying that my mother's behaviour is as extreme as the bear's, but could it be an indication that she is also deeply depressed and wishes to die? Mum had a stroke last year which affected her speech, she can't express herself and possibly these actions are a form of communication....she's telling us she's had enough and wishes to leave the physical world. She hates the nursing home where she resides, but it was impossible to look after her at home. It breaks my heart to see her constantly gnawing on her hands and fingers. Her hands are always tightly clenched- her strength is remarkable. Efforts to open her grip are always unsuccessful. There has to be logical reasons for this behaviour and my thinking is- she really wants to end it all!


over 3 years ago, said...

My MIL does the same thing now. She didn't used to though in the early stages of her disease. She is bedridden now, and we have to do everything for her. A neat tip that I never really thought of was when it comes to bathing/changing take one of those button up type of night gowns, and put it on backwards without buttoning it up in the back. It makes it so much easier to get on and off. My MIL hates to be messed with and changed, so it was a good solution. Although, now we have the problem of her pulling down the front of some of her nightgowns and exposing her front to people. Her bed is in the living room, so I have to constantly keep an eye out to make sure she isn't exposing herself. I think part of it may be itchiness too. It's so hard to tell sometimes because they can't tell you what is wrong.


over 3 years ago, said...

My mother is a disinhibited stripper and is now confined to jumpsuits, but something has recently jolted my memory. She always complained that clocks, radios and various household implements didn't work and needed to be fixed or replaced. I seemed to be forever replacing clocks and radios in particular. I questioned her repeatedly- was she using them properly and did she know how to use them? The answer was always- 'Yes! I know how to use them!' Gradually I began to realize she was just pushing knobs and buttons and had no idea how they worked. Previously, I would constantly reset her clock radio and adjust the TV remote, but once the realization hit me, I didn't say anything- simply corrected the situation. However, grave fears began to stir in regards to electric appliances- any disaster was possible! Before anything serious did happen, my mother regrettably had a stroke and is now residing in a nursing home. She is 96 and the stroke exacerbated her dementia to the point where remaining at home was impossible. But, carers must be always vigilant in picking up dementia clues- my mother was so definite in her responses and very convincing in persuading me that she wasn't having any problems. Looking back- she certainly had problems which were slowly growing before my very eyes. Lyn


over 3 years ago, said...

I had no idea this was common in dementia patients, but one evening several weeks ago at dinner (in the dining room of the facility where my mom lives) Mom complained of being hot, and before I knew it had stripped her sweater off and was sitting at the table in her bra - I was shocked, but tried not to over react, and the other folks there didn't even seem to notice. One of the staff ran to mom's room and grabbed a lighter shirt, which she put on and seemed happy with... It's only happened once, but I'll know to look for it from now on! Thank you.


almost 4 years ago, said...

My 96 year old mother constantly removed her clothing until she began wearing jumpsuits. These solved an on-going problem. However, even with the jumpsuits, she tugs and pulls and I don't know how she can be uncomfortable, because the material used in the jumpsuits is soft and nothing is tight. She doesn't scratch and doesn't appear to be hot. Even when occupied talking to people- she's tugging, so it isn't boredom. Maybe it's the skin itself- she just feels better completely free of any clothing. I hadn't realized the 'removal' of clothing with dementia sufferers was so common- I'm learning more and more. Although I'm understanding this 'disinhibition' more deeply, I do wish she was able to explain what she feels because I would dearly love to help her when she has these moments of agitation.


almost 4 years ago, said...

good practical hints to help me handle the situation in the eventuality of it happening.


over 4 years ago, said...

Thnkfully gma is the opposite of this!


almost 5 years ago, said...

Not really on subject, but slightly connected,,,Arranged for my better half to have her hair "Done " with her usual lady,,,but had not been for a couple of weeks,,We arrived home with her looking really pretty and I had her look in the mirror to see how beautiful she was..She then stated that she needed to wash her hair and promptly shampooed all the hard work out, I found this really amusing and told her that she looked even prettier..As they have now found skin cancer along with her dementia, and have organized Hospice care to help me cope, I was reluctant to have the salon use chemicals on her hair and maybe the lack of hair-spray and stuff triggered the incident...Blessings to all of you angels....P.G


almost 5 years ago, said...

Planning ahead is very important. If signs of disrobing occur at home, they may occur elsewhere. I liked the shawl or sweater idea. Having a piece of fabric one could also tie around the waste could be used. Suggest that this is a special costume to wear until you reach the car.


about 5 years ago, said...

Keeping a shawl or sweater handy and making sure clothing worn in public is difficult to remove. Thanks!


over 5 years ago, said...

Stripping part, as dis inhibited. Very helpful. Antoinette Tong-Vos