What causes someone with dementia to tap on tables, when not occupied?

Clipper asked...

When out and he is disinterested/can't follow a conversation or is at a music venue, he taps on the table which is a distraction to others and me. when not occupied with an activity he will do it also, do it sometimes quite hard to make a loud noise. At adult day care he does it and it irritates other clients. I was thinking maybe he should be on some sort of tranquilizer. I don't want him to be like a zoombie as he is on enough meds already. Any ideas out there? Clipper

Expert Answer

Ladislav Volicer, M.D., Ph.D., is recognized as an international expert on advanced dementia care. He is a courtesy full professor at the School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, and visiting professor at the Third Medical Faculty, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Twenty-five years ago, he established one of the first dementia special care units.

What he is doing is caused by boredom. What he needs is a meaningful activity; music that he likes, simple conversation/reminiscence, simple activity like sorting. You certainly would not want to treat it with sedating medication that would decrease his quality of life.