Mar 15, 2011

Alzheimer’s Disease and Inhibitions

By Barbara Pursley

Memory loss is the first symptom we think about when it comes to the disease of Alzheimer’s; however, there are also a range of behavioral problems, too.


Damage to the frontal lobe is primarily responsible for behavioral changes such as loss of inhibitions. This can be distressing and embarrassing for the caregiver and the patient when the behavior is socially inappropriate, such as lack of modesty, sexual advances, and inappropriate touch. Mom became very uninhibited once the onset of Alzheimer’s began its course.

One early morning while drinking my coffee, the phone rang and I answered, “Hello.” The lady asked, “May I speak to Ms Pursley?” and I answered, “Speaking.”

I took a deep breath knowing it was the nursing home and anytime they called there had to be a problem.

After identifying herself, she said, “Your mother is adjusting to the nursing home, but she is having inappropriate sexual behavior. She flirts with the men, touches them in private places, pats them on their butts and gets in their beds. Also, she isolates herself from the women and wants to kiss all the men.”

This does not sound like my mother!

The nurse said, “Letting go of inhibitions is part of the disease. This morning I found your mother in Mr. Baker’s bed, an African American gentleman, who was sleeping in his recliner beside the bed. She refused to get up and told me, ‘I’m trying to be private. Leave us alone.’”

Mom was raised in a generation with prejudice influence and to hear of her flirting with Mr. Baker was quite humorous.

I hope I’m not supposed to take this seriously; however, it’s interesting how Alzheimer’s changes ones mind and inhibitions disappear. How wonderful if we never felt discriminated against because of our race.



Barbara Pursley was born in Galveston, Texas and is the author of EMBRACING THE MOMENT. Barabara attended Santa Monica College, studied photography, and worked as a commercial photographer before returning to Texas to care for her mother. Barbara also taught journal writing to women in Texas rehabilitation facilities. She put her God inspired journal entries and photographs into book form in 2009.

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Original content Barbara Pursley, the Alzheimer's Reading Room