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Is it normal for my grandfather, who has Alzheimer's and dementia, to be acting inappropriately towards other people?

5 answers | Last updated: Oct 05, 2015
queenconger asked...

My grandfather has mild to moderate Alzheimer's and dementia. Is it normal for him to be acting inappropriately around other people and making sexual advances towards his caregiver? What can we do to make this stop? Any suggestions?


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Beth Spencer is a social worker in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with more than 25 years of experience with families who have a member with...
100% helpful
Beth Spencer answered...

One of the things that happens sometimes in people with dementia is that they lose some of their social inhibitions, due to some of the changes in their brains. This See also:
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means that their ability to distinguish what is or is not socially appropriate is no longer working right. This can manifest itself in different ways: saying embarrassing things to people, picking up a plate and licking it, or making sexual advances, for example.

Sometimes a person who is making sexual advances is simply lonely or in need of affection. Also, he may think his caregiver is someone else, such as a spouse or someone from his past.

  • It's not possible to reteach appropriate behaviors, usually, but there are some other things that you might try:
  • Make sure that your grandfather’s caregiver does nothing to tempt him, that she dresses and behaves modestly. Sometimes the person with Alzheimer’s is misinterpreting cues.
  • Help her come up with some firm responses to your grandfather, such as, 'Mr. Smith, do not say that to me please.' Teach her to walk away from him when he behaves this way. It's important not to reinforce the behavior with attention.
  • Is there a particular time or place it is happening? During dressing or bathing, for example? If so, help the caregiver think about how to do these tasks in a very matter of fact way.
  • Switching to a male caregiver may make this problem disappear.
  • If all else fails, ask his doctor about medications that may dampen his sexual ardor. This should be a last resort, however. It does not always work, can have unwanted side effects, and physicians are often reluctant to try this.


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dtippett answered...

I would suggest a behavioral neurologist evaluation, as they will know the best mrdications to use. I have used Tegretol with some success. Others have used Depakote and other medications. I recall someone reported on a novel medication to suppress sexual desire in demented patients. I think it was Cimetadine, but You should do a search and talk to a behavioral neurologist.

Good Luck


88% helpful
ginga answered...

It can be very embarrassing for a spouse or family member but it is very common. My husband has been in a nursing home and now in an Alzheimer's unit for the last two and a half years. I like the Alzheimer's unit better because they know how to deal with behaviors better than a regular nursing home. They aren't shocked by their behavior and that helps me! It takes a special kind of nurse to work with dementia patients. I think they deserve more than they get for doing what they do.


100% helpful
Redbeard answered...

My father was prone to making sexually suggestive comments to caregivers at an Assisted Living facility after his Alzheimers had progressed - and that was definitely not his normal behavior. Generally I just told him that it was inappropriate to behave that way. One time I told him that his behavior embarrassed me - he apologized the following day.

Hopefully the staff is familiar with Alzheimers patients such that they have ways to address with such behaviors.


Incest survivor answered...

Phew this is difficult for me but I'm posting here because I am learning how to stand up for myself and have courage....my grandfather has been inappropriate towards me as long as I can remember, and unfortunately, I have no solid memories prior to age 12. But as an adult woman now, I want to speak up. Now my grandfather is in his 80s and people have used his age as an excuse for his behavior- there was always an excuse, and I was always wrong. Nobody listened to me as a little girl; it was too painful for my mother to face the reality of it all, so she just said I was "too sensitive" and there was something wrong with me. And I believed that for years. I went to visit my grandmother (I try to numb myself when he is around), and unfortunately had another horrible experience with him- he pulled me into the closet and asked if I was wearing panties. To this day I still cannot say anything when it happens, I just get very sick inside and leave. But I just need to say it out loud so somebody, anybody can hear....some men really are perverts and always were, and age may make it worse but it was always there! I don't want to upset anyone here, I need to say it for my own healing... I just wish someone would have stood up to him, the many times it happened throughout my life. To this day I struggle with calling it what it is. I am a natural caregiver and a nurse today, and I run into old men behaving this way and it is not okay. AND I still don't say anything because I turn into that scared little girl. They get away with it. I wish there were more people with the confidence to confront them on the spot. I pray for the ability to do this myself.