• Expert Q&A: Rare dementias - Tues 3 March, 3-4pm

    Our next expert Q&A will be on the topic of rare dementias. It will be hosted by Nikki and Seb from Rare Dementia Support. If you have any questions about rare dementias, they will be here to answer them on Tuesday 3 March between 3-4pm.

    You can either post your question >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll be happy to ask them on your behalf.

Started Rubbing , why ?

1mindy

Registered User
Jul 21, 2015
539
Shropshire
My husband moved to a care home about 18 months ago . Over the pat few months he has been rubbing. First it was his fingers constantly opening his fingers locking his hands together and rubbing . When I went this week he was sitting with both trouser legs up and vigorously rubbing his legs . Has anyone any suggestions as to why ? Is it deterioration or just change ?
 

Beate

Registered User
May 21, 2014
11,841
London
Boredom? Needing something to occupy his hands? Maybe the repetitive motion soothes him? Can you try simple things like giving him a pack of cards to play with? Might not work but can't do any harm.
 

karaokePete

Registered User
Jul 23, 2017
5,117
N Ireland
My wife used to rub her fingers. She was clearly anxious but couldn't/wouldn't express her thoughts. Medication solved the issue after counselling failed to help.
 

Duggies-girl

Registered User
Sep 6, 2017
1,787
My husband moved to a care home about 18 months ago . Over the pat few months he has been rubbing. First it was his fingers constantly opening his fingers locking his hands together and rubbing . When I went this week he was sitting with both trouser legs up and vigorously rubbing his legs . Has anyone any suggestions as to why ? Is it deterioration or just change ?
@1mindy My dad does this too. He does the finger opening and locking thing and he also claps with the ends of his fingers very purposely sometimes. I noticed it a lot if we were having coffee and a chat and it seems to happen most if there is a lull in the conversation. I have started to turn the TV on now so we have some kind of talking point even if it is only the news and he does not seem to do it so much then but he constantly rubs with his thumb. He can do this all evening if we are watching a film. It drives me nuts and I try to ignore it but I can see it all the time. I think these little annoyances are sent to try our patiences to the limit.
 

Kevinl

Registered User
Aug 24, 2013
4,774
Salford
I've never understood the rolling up of the trouser leg thing although it is very common in the nursing home. I started off wondering if the women were more used to skirts so when they were wearing trousers it seemed odd, so they roll then up so their lower legs are open to the air but I now know it's equally common in men.
One lady said as her husband was a former PE teacher and footballer then he was more used to shorts so she thought he was recreating his normal, another used to be a postman and a lot of them wear shorts. Is it correct or just trying to explain the unexplainable? Who knows.
The rubbing hands and legs seems pretty common too, one ladies habit is spitting on her hands then rubbing them together then when the fancy takes her wiping them on anyone handy.
It always surprises me that so many people who were so different previously in their life adopt so many of the same patterns of strange behaviour with AZ.
The ones I really feel for are the ones that pick at themselves, I've seen people pick at their (usually) arm until they bleed for no apparent reason, it's awful to watch and nothing the staff can do to make them stop.
K
 

1mindy

Registered User
Jul 21, 2015
539
Shropshire
Thanks for those . I haven't seen anyone else doing it . He never would wear shorts so that blows that theory . It is certainly odd that the same traits are seen on various levels . Doubtless one day someone will discover why !
 

love.dad.but..

Registered User
Jan 16, 2014
4,473
Kent
Dad used to roll one trouser leg up and picked at minute bits of fluff on his trousers..jumpers etc. He didn't rub his hands but would rub his trousers especially along the crease. Maybe the repetitive actions become a habit and are comforting for them. Dad never seemed distressed while doing it but was determined in his task!
 

jaymor

Volunteer Moderator
Jul 14, 2006
12,676
England
My husband would push his trouser legs up to his knees. He would also vigorously rub his thigh as if he was trying to get something off his leg.
 

Bunpoots

Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
3,822
Nottinghamshire
My dad picks at his leg, he has a hole which is getting bigger. I've taken him to the nurse but it's not infected. He will not leave it alone and I've tried cream, the skin looks dry, and covering it with a big sticking plaster. Nothing works and now he's complaining that it's sore!!
 

Fullticket

Registered User
Apr 19, 2016
475
Chard, Somerset
Mum moves her toes and feet - a small thing but hugely irritating once you know she is doing it. Constantly scrunching and releasing her toes and shuffling her feet back and forward (she has worn a patch under her chair). She also constantly moves her fingers, fingers to thumb, rubs her hands together, then rubs her arms. I often find her with her trouser legs rolled up so prompt to apply some cream but they don't seem overly dry or sore.
I have no idea either why she does this though I ruled out boredom or trying to concentrate (like a child can run a tongue over the lips when they are engrossed) as it goes on even when she is engaged in a quiz or involved in an activity while in day care. I just put it down to a habit she that has increased as she becomes less able to concentrate or more anxious.
 

marionq

Registered User
Apr 24, 2013
6,016
Scotland
All of these answers seem logical but with my husband I think his skin has become uncomfortable to him even though there is nothing obviously wrong.

Every night when he is getting ready for bed i put a squirt of E45 cream on his legs and he rubs it in from thigh to ankle. If he is especially itchy I give him E45 Itch Relief Cream rather than just their moisturising cream. I also give him a squirt in his hand to put on his private area as this too occasionally itches or irritates him.

If I do all of this he sleeps better but if we miss it out he tends to scratch and fidget during the night. Occasionally I give him an anti histamine tablet but I'm not convinced it makes any difference apart from making him sleepy.
 

Duggies-girl

Registered User
Sep 6, 2017
1,787
Mum moves her toes and feet - a small thing but hugely irritating once you know she is doing it. Constantly scrunching and releasing her toes and shuffling her feet back and forward (she has worn a patch under her chair). She also constantly moves her fingers, fingers to thumb, rubs her hands together, then rubs her arms. I often find her with her trouser legs rolled up so prompt to apply some cream but they don't seem overly dry or sore.
I have no idea either why she does this though I ruled out boredom or trying to concentrate (like a child can run a tongue over the lips when they are engrossed) as it goes on even when she is engaged in a quiz or involved in an activity while in day care. I just put it down to a habit she that has increased as she becomes less able to concentrate or more anxious.
Yes the fingers thumb thing is constant with dad I don't know how he can do for such long periods and yes it is very irritating. I bought him one of those fidget spinners that kids play with. I said someone gave it to me and i didn't want it. He has not touched it.
 

Laura40

Registered User
Dec 10, 2017
97
England
My husband does the same thing, has done for a few years now. He's had all sorts of creams from the doctors but it doesn't ever seem to make any difference. I'm constantly asking him to stop doing it when we go out, can be quite off putting in a restaurant! This thread is making me consider whether it is yet another part of the dementia? He also rubs his fingers together and has done for years. I've since read that this is a Parkinson's trait called pill rolling! I saw a few examples on YouTube and it is exactly what he does. All these things that we thought were just his little idiosyncrasies ...
The itching doesn't seem to bother him though he doesn't even realise he's doing it.
 

Duggies-girl

Registered User
Sep 6, 2017
1,787
My husband does the same thing, has done for a few years now. He's had all sorts of creams from the doctors but it doesn't ever seem to make any difference. I'm constantly asking him to stop doing it when we go out, can be quite off putting in a restaurant! This thread is making me consider whether it is yet another part of the dementia? He also rubs his fingers together and has done for years. I've since read that this is a Parkinson's trait called pill rolling! I saw a few examples on YouTube and it is exactly what he does. All these things that we thought were just his little idiosyncrasies ...
The itching doesn't seem to bother him though he doesn't even realise he's doing it.
Yes it can be very annoying. Dads thumb is on the go all the time even in the car and I find it so distracting. I have not asked him to stop because I don't think he could and probably does not even know that he is doing it. I really don't know how he keeps it going.

If we watch some tv and I am sitting next to him I have started to wear my glasses even though I don't need them. They are quiet wide at the sides and block part of the view I find that then I can't see the twiddling so it is less annoying.

I have heard of the pill rolling thing but I don't think my dad has Parkinson's.