My 82 Year Old Mother Has Some Dementia And Recently She Takes Her Clothes Off And Won't Let Anyone Near Her. She Says She Will Beat Them Up If They Try To Help Her. Why Does This Happen?

Question

Asked by Susan Scuro

My 82 Year Old Mother Has Some Dementia And Recently She Takes Her Clothes Off And Won't Let Anyone Near Her. She Says She Will Beat Them Up If They Try To Help Her. Why Does This Happen?

She has a full time care taker who is starting to worry about this behavior. Should we put her in a nursing home? She lives in her own place now.

Answer

The recent changes in your mother's behavior sounds concerning. There could be a number of explanations for this change, so it is imperative that you speak with her physician. There may be some medical reasons why this is happening, so further assessment and evaluation is necessary in order to rule out possible causes, such as depression, vitamin deficiency or thyroid imbalance, for example. You can also use this time to discuss with your mother's physician any possible medication changes that might be in order. It is important to know that as dementia progresses, the brain deteriorates in such a way that judgment becomes impaired. Inhibitions are lowered, as is the ability to process and understand social cues and mores. Because the person with Alzheimer's disease loses the ability to verbalize their thoughts or feelings, they may act out their feelings physically. Other individuals can become so frightened of their surroundings that they become aggressive as a way of protecting themselves. Aggressive outbursts are not uncommon for people with dementia. If considering long-term care, it is important to consult with your mother's physician for a full assessment of her level of needs and to share your concerns for her safety to determine where her needs can best be met.