Disinhibition is a term in psychology meaning “a lack of restraint including a disregard for social conventions.” In other words, those suffering from cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s or other dementia related diseases might be lacking in areas of normal social restraint.
For instance, they might form a habit of disrobing in public or in front of anybody at home, including children. This may become an extremely embarrassing situation and is, of course, inappropriate behavior.
Try to discover what could be causing your loved ones’ poor deportment by analyzing the situation. Could something else be initiating this conduct? In many cases something environmental triggers it.
He or she might begin undressing simply because they are not comfortable and can’t find the words to tell you. They could be too hot or their clothes might be causing them to itch. Fortunately you have the option of buying special clothes designed for those living with advanced dementia. Simply go online and Google the words, “Alzheimer’s clothing” and such items will pop up such as jumpsuits. These are specially fabricated with anti-disrobing features such as long zippers down the back complete with a dome closure behind the neck so the wearer can’t get to the zipper head. But be aware that this change will now bring on the need of extra assistance in undressing for bathroom use, etc.
I found that the looser the clothes, the better my father accepted them in his later stages. He absolutely refused to wear anything that even resembled fitting tautly. I couldn’t even persuade him to wear socks for the last two years of his life. It was a good thing we lived here in Florida’s climate.
If you should find yourselves in a public place and your loved one begins to disrobe, try not to panic. First try redirection. Attempt to turn their thoughts onto anything else besides their clothing.
As I have stated in earlier writings, redirection works best when you can actually hand them something they can touch, taste or smell. For example, if you’re in a restaurant, try handing them a couple of pieces of silverware and ask them which one they like better; or have them taste something and ask their gourmet opinion of the flavor.
Get yourself in the habit of bringing along extra clothing. Simply having them put on a fresh shirt may solve the problem.
At all cost avoid becoming angry or embarrassing them. Remain composed, maybe finding somewhere private for them to sit quietly for a while. A crowd or unfamiliar faces could be the culprit, causing them to have a bout of anxiety.
Another example of inappropriate behavior you might encounter is obscene language. Even someone who rarely swore in public before now might be throwing out words that could make a trucker blush. If they become foul mouthed or verbally abusive you may have to sit down and explain to adults and children alike who are in hearing range that it is the disease causing this poor behavior and that normally your loved one always has refrained from this kind of demeanor.
As far as dealing one on one, gently remind them that this behavior is unfitting.
If you’re in a public place and you cannot divert their attention to something else, it might be better to excuse yourselves and head home where they once again will feel safe and secure.