Destruction of furniture - another symptom?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by myss, Mar 22, 2019.

  1. myss

    myss Registered User

    Jan 14, 2018
    I have learnt a lot about the symptoms a pwd can display from this awful illness through this forum but I don't think I have read about anyone experiencing them destructing or moving furniture or furnishings. I can guess why my dad does it - bless him - that furniture/furnishing just looks wrong or wrongly placed in his eyes, so all we do is intervene and then fix back or purchase a new one of whatever it was.
    We've had minor things like a fruit bowl/crockery placed on the floor by the front door, newspapers precisely placed at a particular angle under internal doors, and his bedclothes stripped and placed down the stairs/hallway (that's a favourite), and bigger things like the pulling out of the house aerial, drawers pulled out and broken, and decorative panels on a wardrobe pulled off and broken.

    If anyone has had a similar experience of this, what have you done about it (if anything)?

    My dad was very much a hands-on man back in his day so I was wondering if I bought something bright that he could pull apart, push today, break, (try to) stretch it, and thought about buying him something like stickle bricks, children's building blocks, etc - but some of my family think that he won't even be bothered by them - what do you think?
  2. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    North Manchester
    I had similar with my wife, she moved furniture and furnishings all over the place including stacking it up, chairs on tables and so on.
    It's not that uncommon,her consultant referred to it as 'pickfords' symptom'

    This meant 24/7 observation especially when she decided that all curtains and blinds needed taking down, she just grabbed hold and pulled.
  3. KathrynAnne

    KathrynAnne Registered User

    Jun 6, 2018
    South Yorkshire
    I never saw this behaviour from my Mum but thinking back to my Dad who passed away 7 years ago I saw something similar. I remember him having difficulty getting to the plug sockets behind the TV and saying he was going to knock a hole through the wall so he’d be able to get to them more easily. Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut springs to mind!
  4. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    When my Mum went into her care home 3 yrs ago, I couldnt help feel sad for a lady there, her bedroom 2 doors down from Mum.
    All she had was a chest of drawers and a bed. No photos or personal touches at all, and felt that her family mustn’t care less :(

    That was until abouf Mum had been in care a year and started to destroy, rip, break, throw away anything she could lay her hands on.
    Her bed was constantly stripped and remade, until carers left it bare except for a pillow until she went to bed at night.
    They had to hide spare changes of clothes for her.
    The drawers pulled off the runners, tea tipped in the clothes & drawers.
    Buttons pulled off her clothes, hems ripped, inner soles pulled out of shoes & slippers.

    After time her room was exactly the same as the ladies.
    Care staff used to say it was a mixture of her Alzheimers, boredom and agitation.
    It wasnt until they trialled Mum in a low dose of Quetiapine an anti psychotic that these behaviours settled.
  5. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    In the early years my husband felt a need to barricade and would pile up everything he could find in front of the doors. This could be chairs but also sticks, bags of vegetables, my handbag - whatever was around. That was also the packing stage when cupboards and drawers would be emptied usually on to the bed and packed in plastic bags.

    I believe that once he went on to Trazodone anti depressant he no longer needed to do this.
  6. myss

    myss Registered User

    Jan 14, 2018
    Thank you for your replies. It's comforting to know other identify same/similar behaviour. Similar to Linbrusco's mum's care home, we stopped putting covers on the pillows and duvet now as that was another favourite of dad's activities, plus he also has a blanket as it's easier to carry and wash, and also limited the things in his room.

    I also note about the change in medication being a positive factor to some pwd's. I'm waiting on a visit from the memory clinic but I'm told this could take another 8 weeks for them to sort out. Sighs.
  7. Andrew_McP

    Andrew_McP Registered User

    Mar 2, 2016
    South Northwest
    :) I've told my mother before that I'll get her a job with Pickfords. Obviously she's not the only one! She wouldn't last long though, because the only thing she likes more than moving the contents of the house around is destroying them. Last night I found her laid on the floor in her bedroom and was worried she'd fallen and I hadn't heard. But no, she was painstakingly pulling away at a thread she'd found at the edge of the carpet.

    I've been thinking about getting lino (or whatever folk call it these days!) put in there to make cleaning easier, and it looks like she's going to remove the carpet for me, one thread at a time. On one level it's rather sad and destructive. On another, it's perhaps no worse than those folk who are content to sit and do a jigsaw or watch football for hours on end. I'd prefer something like that, but with dementia you accept what you get or you blow a gasket.

    One thing I also learned yesterday is that I have to get rid of all the picture frames with glass in. Mum has started carrying them around, often leaving them face down somewhere. She may be unsettled by the faces, but I was definitely unsettled by the fact she dropped a frame in the kitchen and if I hadn't heard it and rushed in, she'd have cut her feet to ribbons.Close shave.

    Every day there's something new to worry about!
  8. Elle3

    Elle3 Registered User

    Jun 30, 2016
    #8 Elle3, Mar 23, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
    My dad did that too with all his curtains, pulled them all down, broke the curtain rails so they couldn’t be put back easily and wouldn’t let me come up with any other solution to fix them. He lived in a goldfish bowl for months. X
  9. Meercat

    Meercat Registered User

    Aug 13, 2010
    Hi Myss. Your Dad's behaviours certainly seem to be a symptom of Dementia and it may be worth asking his doctor for a review of his meds as suggested - often a change is needed when a pwd presents with a new set of symptoms.
    In the meantime, I think it is worth trying to find a replacement activity - he may not be attracted to stickle bricks as they are brightly coloured and he may 'connect' them with being kids toys so if they don't work try wooden building blocks or jenga that are plain wood. You can also get children sets where you bang in nails through holes in pre-cut shapes to create pictures on a board - an activity you could do together perhaps.
    My Mum got frightened by her appearance so her Residential home had to remove all mirrors so reduce her distress - so I think it's great that you're trying to find something that will meet your dad's needs in a safer and cheaper!! way.

    Best wishes
  10. myss

    myss Registered User

    Jan 14, 2018
    My dad's also had a thing about picture frames too, it was that thing at the back that he didn't like, so there's a few pictures just about still in their frame but leaning against windows/walls/etc.

    Your last sentence is so true!
    Yep, I can identify with the curtain poles too! Thankfully it's only been the one in his bedroom.
    Hi Meercat, thank you for your reply. I was just thinking about jenga blocks today myself.
    We have got my dad's GP to make a referral to the memory clinic to get him and his meds reassessed but as mentioned previously it's about another 8 weeks before we get an appointment.
  11. Andrew_McP

    Andrew_McP Registered User

    Mar 2, 2016
    South Northwest
    Ah, that's how it started with Mum too. I gave up taping and gluing the darned things back together.
    But then I was no better as a kid, always taking things apart without the skill to put them back together! Maybe it's a karma thing.
  12. Izumi

    Izumi Registered User

    Apr 25, 2017
    My father started to move things in the house once he was on his own - after my mum passed away. He often used to throw things over his garden wall into a neighbours garden. I think that the moving of objects in the house was because he didn't know where they belonged anymore and my mum wasn't there to help him. However, now he is in residential care he moves furniture on a daily basis. It usually starts at ' Sundowning time'. He starts by moving the chairs in the dining area and he will make a stack of furniture such as a small table on a sofa etc. The care home has had to strap the radiator covers to the walls because he removed them all. We have stopped replacing his TV in his room because he damaged three by trying to move them and undo anything he could. He will dismantle anything he can if not stopped.
    I am sorry that I don't have an answer but I think he must think he is keeping busy. He always was a busy man. I expect this must be the case for PWD - they have nothing else to do.
  13. 70smand

    70smand Registered User

    Dec 4, 2011
    My dad used to get quite destructive when agitated - he broke several tv’s and often used to punch the news presenter or a quiz master !
    Some days he would want to get outside and decide smashing his way out through a window was the way to go, instead of using the door.
    Medication was the only way forward for him as she was so fit and strong.
    My dad was an excellent handy man in his day but it was difficult to find things for him to do. Quite often the tv had to be kept off and we would put his iPod on him and give him a box of familiar things to rummage around with, such as a stopwatch, calculator, old tv remotes. One thing that did help was to give him a big plank of wood and sanding block. He would spend about an hour at a time ‘helping’ me with my bench, which took 4 years to finish, but he loved to feel useful.
    I suggest a review by his GP or memory clinic. I wish you all the best x
  14. myss

    myss Registered User

    Jan 14, 2018
    Hello again :). So we had a review of dad's meds and they were changed, so that was good However the destruction continues. I read through this thread again and noted Linbrusco's comments about stripping her mum's room of things so she had less things to damage, and think we may have to do the very same. Unless there's any other tried and tested solutions.

    We had a review of dad's house done a couple weeks ago by a occupational health-type of group person. This group also has a pharmacist and we asked for sedatives as he's stubborn to go bed even though he's clearly needs the sleep. I so hope the request is approved!

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