Digging through boxes, cabinets, and closets, taking out odds and ends from drawers, and sorting repetitively through a variety of items might be frustrating for the people providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. However, these actions have a purpose. Rummaging can supply a degree of comfort for individuals with dementia, together with the reassurance of recognizing familiar objects and finding purpose and meaning.
The key then is not to discourage rummaging, as this may lead to agitation. There are other ways to more effectively manage this behavior if it becomes troublesome. These strategies will help:
- Keep rummaging to a specific area. Assemble bins of items the individual seems especially interested in, such as for example, keys, paperwork, a wallet, tools, gardening equipment, sewing implements, sports memorabilia, and so on. When a loved one begins to rummage in other areas, pull out one of the boxes and guide his/her focus there.
- Set up an activity centered on rummaging behaviors. Let the older adult know you could really use his or her assistance with a specific activity that takes advantage of these behaviors, such as folding towels or socks, sorting nuts/bolts in a toolbox, or placing paperwork into folders.
- Find other stimulating tasks to alleviate boredom. Rummaging could be the response to feelings of restlessness, loneliness, or boredom. Test out a variety of activities you can recommend and do with the senior, like arts and crafts, puzzles, going on a walk, listening to music, etc.
- Keep valuables out of reach. If you know your senior loved one has the propensity to rummage, make certain that any important documents, pieces of jewelry, keys, credit cards, etc. are all kept safely away. It’s also a good idea to tuck away the mail when it arrives, to ensure bills and other items aren’t getting tossed or misplaced.
- Step up safety precautions. Now is a very good time to gauge how hazardous items are stored in the house, such as sharp knives, cleaning products, even certain types of foods such as raw meat that a senior loved one may inadvertently mistake for another food product and ingest. Keep all items that may cause a senior loved one harm in secure places, ideally locked away.
Atlanta Home Care Partners can assist with a professional live-in caregiver in Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs to provide companionship and engagement in creative, enjoyable, and fulfilling activities for anyone with dementia that can lead to fewer challenging behaviors such as rummaging. Contact us for additional dementia care resources or to schedule an in-home assessment for more information on our services.