June 25, 2020 by Dean Bellefeuille

Senior Man with Dementia

Searching through bins, cabinets, and closets, pulling out assorted items from drawers, and searching repetitively through a number of items might be frustrating for individuals providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, but in reality these behaviors are fulfilling a purpose. Rummaging can supply a measure of comfort for those with Alzheimer’s, through identifying familiar items and finding purpose and meaning.

The important thing then is not to discourage rummaging, which may cause agitation, but to better manage this behavior if it becomes troublesome. These guidelines will help:

  • Keep rummaging to a specific area. Assemble bins of items your senior loved one seems especially interested in, for example, keys, paperwork, a wallet, tools, gardening equipment, sewing implements, sports memorabilia, etc. Whenever the senior begins to rummage in other places, take out one of the boxes and steer his/her attention there.
  • Create a task aimed at rummaging behaviors. Let the senior know you could really use his or her help with a specific activity that makes use of these behaviors, for example, folding towels or socks, sorting nuts/bolts in a toolbox, or placing paperwork into folders.
  • Identify other stimulating tasks to alleviate boredom. Rummaging could possibly be the outcome of feelings of uneasiness, loneliness, or boredom. Experiment with different activities you can easily recommend and do along with the senior, such as arts and crafts, puzzles, going for a walk, listening to music, etc.
  • Keep valuable items out of reach. Realizing that your senior loved one has the tendency to rummage, make certain that any essential documents, pieces of jewelry, keys, credit cards, etc. are all stored safely away. It is also a wise idea to tuck away the mail when it is delivered, to make sure bills as well as other items are not getting tossed or misplaced.
  • Step up security precautions. Now is a good time to gauge how hazardous objects are stored in your house, such as 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 might cause the senior injury in secure places, ideally locked away.

At Home Independent Living, the experts in senior care in Syracuse, NY and the surrounding area, can assist with the professional in-home care services that provide engagement and companionship in creative, enjoyable, and fulfilling activities for individuals with Alzheimer’s that lead to fewer challenging behaviors. Reach out to us online or at (315) 579-4663 for more helpful tips for understanding dementia behaviors or to set up an in-home assessment to learn more about our services.