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.

  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.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio