Sexually inappropriate behaviour


With a dementia, there can be some side effects, which can be challenging to manage. Although sexually inappropriate behaviour is not the most common side effect, it can still be displayed. This then creates problems for all parties involved in this situation.


For other people who were nearby, including friends, family and carers, they are potentially at risk of experiencing this inappropriate sexual behaviour. For able-bodied carers and family members they should be able to redirect the person or at the very least defend themselves against something unwanted. However somebody more physically vulnerable, such as a co-resident in a care home, could find themselves the victims of an assault. The criminal offence of sexual assault, requires the understanding that this is an assault, however this is not present in somebody with a dementia, therefore this could be seen as a situation with two victims.


The family of an individual displaying inappropriate sexual behaviour find this very embarrassing as well as challenging to manage. It can also lead to breakdown or at least issues with family relations as visiting that person might put themselves or other family members they bring with them at risk. I have heard of cases where family members do not bring their young children to the house of the person with dementia to protect them from potential assault or witnessing an assault.


This kind of presentation requires specialist help to care for them and often in numbers of at least two carers and possibly more, depending upon how insistent the person with dementia is. In a care home or domiciliary home, the professional carer is entitled to a safe working environment. The family want to be able to visit their loved one without having to worry about what might happen.


The person with dementia could be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, initially under section 2 and if they are unable to be treated within the 28 days that section 2 is valid for, they could be sectioned under section 3. Section 3 lasts for up to 6 months before it needs to be renewed, however people will be discharged from the mental health unit in which they are detained as soon they are able to be released into the community or to a care home, therefore they might be in the mental health unit for less than a period of six months. Often in mental health units, the healthcare professionals will prescribe appropriate medication to modify the person’s behaviour. This could include either anti-anxiety medication and/or anti-psychotic medication. This medication should only be prescribed for as long as it is necessary, and should therefore be reviewed regularly in order to ensure that its ongoing prescription remains appropriate.


This presentation is challenging for lots of reasons and is often not talked about. Although it is not the most common of challenging behaviour associated with dementia, it is nevertheless known to experienced healthcare professionals who care for people living with dementia. If this affects you and you wish to have some help and support please contact me at Nash & Co.