Understanding and Managing Alzheimer’s Rummaging

A woman searches through a cluttered drawer, a possible sign of Alzheimer’s rummaging.
Learn how to recognize and manage Alzheimer’s rummaging in a loved one.

You’ve noticed the TV remote is missing from the living room. Cabinets and drawers are askew and things seem like they’ve been rummaged through. If someone you love has dementia, it could be due to a little discussed behavior called Alzheimer’s rummaging. Often, there may be a logical explanation behind the behavior. The person may be searching for something, but they are unable to tell you what it is. Boredom may also trigger rummaging.

For loved ones with Alzheimer’s, rummaging through drawers, cabinets, and other places in the home is common, but it can also be dangerous. For example, if a loved one starts rooting around under the kitchen sink where cleaning supplies are kept, they may mistake a bottle of cleaning solution for something to drink or accidentally spill bleach on themself. Knowing the reasons behind Alzheimer’s rummaging can help you better manage the behavior. These tips from our home care experts can help.

Keep Loved Ones Safe

Rummaging is often a mild behavior that doesn’t necessarily have to be redirected. The important thing, however, is that your loved one is safe at all times.

  • Make sure cleaning products and other toxic, sharp, or potentially dangerous items are locked up or out of their reach.
  • Keep any valuable items such as wallets, car keys, important paperwork, jewelry, etc. in a secure place, as the person may hide or misplace items while rummaging.
  • Get rid of expired or spoiled food. A person who is rummaging may be searching for snacks and not realize that the foods are unsafe to eat.
  • Keep trash cans securely covered or out of sight.
  • Double check trash cans before emptying them as your loved one may have hidden something there or thrown something important away by accident.
  • Keep tabs on where your loved one tends to hide things, and check these places often.
  • If possible, keep your loved one from accessing unused rooms or rooms that contain valuables.

To help control Alzheimer’s rummaging, you can also create a designated space that the person is allowed to rummage through. This could be a large handbag, basket, or chest of drawers filled with objects they can freely sort through. Also consider giving your loved one a designated box in which to store important items instead of hiding them around the house. Sometimes, giving the person a basket of clothing or towels to sort through or fold can help manage the urge to rummage as well.

Home Care Helps!

Alzheimer’s disease can bring out an array of challenging behaviors in loved ones, and the professional in-home care team at Nightingale Homecare is here to help. Our caregivers are highly trained in managing, redirecting, and reducing behaviors such as Alzheimer’s rummaging. We can help loved ones stay active in productive ways, create a calming environment in the home, and establish routines to help people feel more at ease. Through our Dementia Care Connections Program, we also provide cognitive and functional assessments, as well as training for family caregivers to ensure you have all the tools you need to properly care for a loved one at home.

Nightingale Homecare is proud to provide dementia care services in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and throughout the surrounding areas. To learn more about our dementia care services and how our team can help your family, contact us online or give us a call at (602) 854-9987.