Posted on: June 24, 2020

Searching through cardboard boxes, cabinets, and closets, pulling out assorted items from drawers, and searching repetitively through many different items could be frustrating for anyone providing care for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s, but in reality, these dementia-related behaviors are fulfilling an objective. Rummaging may provide a measure of comfort for individuals with dementia, along with the reassurance of recognizing familiar items and finding purpose and meaning.

One of the keys then is not to discourage rummaging, which might result in agitation, but to more effectively manage this behavior if it becomes troublesome. These tips from our Beverly Hills, MI elder care advocates can help:

  • Keep rummaging to a controlled area. Assemble boxes of items the individual seems primarily drawn to, such as keys, paperwork, a wallet, tools, gardening equipment, sewing implements, sports memorabilia, and so on. When a loved one starts to rummage in other places, take out one of the bins and guide his/her focus there.
  • Establish an activity based on rummaging behaviors. Let the older adult know you could really use his/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 filing paperwork into folders.
  • Find other stimulating activities to alleviate boredom. Rummaging could be the result of feelings of restlessness, loneliness, or boredom. Test out various activities you can encourage and do along with the senior, including arts and crafts, puzzles, taking a walk, listening to music, etc.
  • Keep valuable items out of reach. Realizing that your senior loved one has the propensity to rummage, be sure that any important documents, pieces of jewelry, keys, credit cards, etc. are all kept securely away. It is also a great idea to tuck away the mail when it is delivered, to ensure bills as well as other items are not getting tossed or misplaced.
  • Step up safety precautions. Now is the perfect time to gauge how hazardous objects are stored in your house, such as sharp knives, cleaning products, even certain types of foods like raw meat that a senior loved one may accidentally mistake for another food product and ingest. Keep all items that could cause the individual injury in safe places, preferably locked away.

Alivity Care Advocates can assist with care management services to help families better manage a difficult dementia-related behavior such as rummaging. Give us a call at (248) 375-9125  or use our online form for additional dementia care resources or to set up a meeting to learn more about our services, available in Beverly Hills, MI and the surrounding area.