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Caring for Seniors with OCD


You might wonder why your senior repeatedly performs actions that seem unnecessary. Perhaps they fold their clothes, put them away, and then refold them. Or they may wash their hands thrice in a row because they like the number three. If your loved one has been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or displays similar tendencies, here's how you can help recognize and reduce these anxious behaviors.

OCD takes many forms; each person's disorder may look very different. A common link, though, is frequent obsessions and compulsions. Intrusive thoughts populate the brain of those affected by OCD, such as worries about an unlocked door. These obsessions are involuntary and likely unwanted. Then, depending on the severity of the OCD, they might escalate into rituals that your loved one cannot control. Performing many of these behaviors may pose a threat to the health of your senior, whether it be physical or emotional. When obsession and compulsions are controlling the lives of family members and friends, there may be some steps you can take to assist.

Some common categories of those with OCD are washers, checkers, doubters, counters, and hoarders. However, other classes of thoughts are also valid symptoms, so check with your doctor if you have questions regarding OCD diagnosis and treatment.

Patience is the first thing to exercise when dealing with a situation. With that, you should reflect on your senior's actions—are they potentially harmful or just annoying? Of course, you cannot tackle all the behaviors simultaneously or instantly heal these ritualistic manners. Even if you cannot understand why your senior thinks a certain way, try not to be overly critical about harmless habits.

When problematic behaviors present a danger to your senior or others, you should first find out why they feel the way they do. Look for the root cause of that activity. By doing this, you'll need to create a comfortable, judgment-free environment so that your senior feels safe sharing their experiences and can openly express their emotions. Talking about what makes them anxious can be a significant step toward independence.

Furthermore, there are some strategies to test with your loved one that may calm them down or distract them from being strongly influenced by their OCD. Try refocusing their attention on something they're interested in, such as a movie or board game. It may even create a new, healthy habit! Additionally, ensuring they eat and sleep well will make their bodies happy. Light exercise and breathing techniques may help reduce their anxious feelings. Lastly, avoiding large crowds, known triggers, and high levels of caffeine could also prove helpful in these situations.

We know that our seniors at Evergreen Senior Living in Chillicothe deserve the best quality of life possible, so many of our organized activities focus on our residents' mental and physical health. Contact us today to discuss more amenities and services we provide.

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