Dad (86) has mid-stage Alzheimer’s. My kids and I love having him live with us. He’s mild-mannered and agreeable to most things we ask him to do, but lately he’s developed the embarrassing habit of rubbing and scratching his “privates” several times a day. We used to take him to movies and restaurants, but after he stood up and scratched a few times, we were too embarrassed and began going without him. Asking him to stop hasn’t helped. He no longer communicates well so he can’t tell us why he’s rubbing. Why does he do this?
- Carol, Long Island
Dad scratches for the same reason as everyone else: he itches. Asking him to stop won’t help because in mid-stage Alzheimer’s his short-term memory is probably too impaired to remember your request. However, even when Alzheimer’s robs people of their ability to communicate verbally, they can still speak to us with actions such as scratching, crying, or acting aggressively to signal fear, discomfort, or pain. Dad needs an appointment with his physician to discover the cause of his discomfort and treat him. New coping skills will help you continue your wonderful relationship with your dad as the disease progresses. To learn the signs and symptoms of developing problems and how to access help before the behavior grows out of control, call your nearest Alzheimer’s organization.
Judie Rappaport, President & Founder
Preferred Lifestyle Services
Trust Yourself. You Have the Knowledge, Insight,
and Power to make the right decisions for you and your parent. ©
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