You can’t always be there. But we can.
Has your elderly loved one become obsessed with doing certain rituals each day, like taking the garbage out or turning the lights on and off a certain amount of times? If your answer was yes, they could have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This is a disorder that causes a person to have thoughts and urges as a result of their anxiety.
This is a common condition for elderly adults with certain conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease. OCD is a difficult condition for anyone to give up, but with the help of the senior’s medical team and a homecare provider, they will have a better chance of fighting this disorder.
Typical OCD Behavior
Each person with OCD will have different behaviors they display, but all will have behaviors that disrupt their daily life. If you are concerned that your loved one has this disorder, here are some common ones to watch for:
Checking to see if the stove is off several times before leaving the house
Needing to touch things, especially in a certain order
Frequently thinking about harming or becoming violent towards family members
Hoarding unnecessary items
Spending at least one hour a day performing these rituals
Constantly having the same thoughts or images, like being afraid of dirty and germs
The most common treatment options are therapy and medication because they are usually the only things needed to get rid of the OCD symptoms. Elderly adults, especially those with family caregivers, may also need to go to family therapy with their family members in order to resolve any issues that could be causing the OCD rituals.
How you can Help
While this type of behavior often requires professional help, there are ways you can also help, including:
Talk to them with an open mind. Your loved one is aware of their disorder, but may try to hide it from you out of embarrassment. Help them feel safe about talking to you about it by letting them know that you are aware of the problem and want to help. Being overly critical will make the behavior worse, so try to speak to them as calmly as you can. Allow them to share any problems they are dealing with while listening intently.
Have someone help. OCD often makes it difficult for that person to accomplish daily activities. You can help by hiring a homecare provider who can help with these tasks, while also watching for any unusual behavior.
Focus on health. Encourage your loved one to focus on their physical health in order to get their mind off of their OCD behavior. Take them on a walk, make sure they get enough sleep, and help them prepare healthy meals.