Elderly OCD: How to Handle It

Elderly OCD is pretty common. Elderly people may start to act strange. From counting cracks on the floor to putting washing the hands three times, these seemingly harmless quirks can be manifestations of OCD in the elderly.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, involves persistent and disturbing thoughts (obsessions), and the rituals or habits (compulsions) to control or alleviate them. In other words, they have these gnawing thoughts in their heads and the only way to make these thoughts go away, even just for a while, is to succumb to activities that may seem outlandish to the observer.


These rituals or habits can soon end up overtaking their whole life. For example, people who are obsessed with getting rid of germs or are afraid of them can develop a compulsion to bathe three or more times a day. If they are obsessed about fire, they may check their gas stoves again and again throughout the day.

There are many other examples of such behavior. And while these are not all pleasurable, for people with OCD, these can give them relief from their obsessions and anxieties.

For older people, elderly OCD is related to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

While many people do things to make sure their houses are safe or their bodies are clean, people with OCD tend to go to lengths to do something. It is a disorder because the activities they engage in disrupt what could be a normal course through their day or life. Even for elderly OCD, the rituals are uncontrollable and can prove caregiving more of a challenge.

Elderly OCD makes caregiving difficult because normal responsibilities can’t be carried out normally. Caregivers, whether family members or professional ones, must have more patience when dealing with them. Another important thing to note is for caregivers to avoid triggering the elderly. This can be done by avoiding situations that may start their obsessions.

For help caring for a loved one with elderly OCD due to Alzheimer’s or dementia, you can reach out to us at Big Hearts. Call or text 09565012540 to inquire.

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