An Easy Need-to-Know Guide to Understanding Different Dementia Behaviours
The key to understanding the different dementia behaviors lies in understanding what to look out for, and how to deal with them.
However, this is easier said than done when it is one of your family members suffering from dementia. Whether you are a caregiver or a family member, understanding the different dementia behaviors is essential for providing care. As the disease progresses, they will begin showing different, and the symptoms will differ. However, these symptoms are for caregivers and family members as well, and not just the person suffering from dementia. Take a look at the following guide to understand how to deal with the different behaviors of dementia.
While these behaviors may not necessarily be preventable, they can be dealt with more positively. These tips should help you to do just that.
Some of the typical behaviors and personality changes that come with dementia:
– Personality changes
– Difficulty with communication
– Mood swings
– Sleep disturbances
– Verbal abuse
– Following another around constantly
How to handle and understand difficult behaviors
There are many ways that dementia will manifest, and it will be different for everyone. Take a look at these signs if you want to see the early signs of dementia.
When faced with these behaviors, these tips could help you to deal with them:
Ask for Help
Asking for help can be daunting, but sometimes it is precisely what you need to do. Ask other caregivers or professionals for their opinion. Sometimes, you just need to find a different solution and get a fresh viewpoint on things. Getting advice from a person that is not emotionally invested can help you to get a better understanding of the cause.
Jayne Byrne, Project Coordinator at a nursing home in Kildare says that “As a dementia caregiver, you should emphasize that that condition doesn’t define them, but it’s a new addition to their life. You can help and encourage them to engage in various activities and hobbies that bring out their strengths, skills, and interests they possess to reinstate their primary purpose in life.”
Avoid Trying to Control
Sometimes it is better to accommodate the behavior merely. This is because trying to control it will only make it worse and cause it to continue. So therefore simply accommodate the response as best that you can, if it is possible.
The Cause may not be what you Think
With dementia, the emotional reaction or some symptoms are often the results of a physical problem. This is why it is so important to report every behavioral issue or sign to the doctor or health care professional.
Be prepared to be flexible, because things can change from one day to the next. Appreciate the good days and set your mindset to a flexible one; otherwise, you may not know how to deal with the changing behaviors.
Anticipate the Needs
This may seem like an impossible task but anticipating the needs of the person with dementia will help both of you.
Understanding Agitation and Anxiety
There are three central stimulants for agitation and anxiety for people with dementia:
When you see these behaviors starting to happen, how do you handle them? While there is no one right answer, there are a few things that could go a long way in helping you to deal with it.
Start with simplifying the environment; reduce noise and also limit the number of people in the house. Keep the environment steady and avoid changing too much around. A person with dementia will look at the familiar objects around them and feel a type of security. If the person becomes agitated, you could try changing the immediate surroundings to distract the mind from the current agitation. Another useful thing that could help is to play some relaxing music in the background.
Understanding Communication Issues
As dementia develops in the brain, the person will begin to lose the memory of many simple words. He or she will then start using repetitive language. When you see the person struggling to communicate or having trouble expressing themselves, try giving them reassurance by a soft touch or reassuring words. When you want to encourage communication, get rid of other distractions so that the person has only to focus on communicating. If you are trying to understand what the person wants to express, try to understand the meaning or the ‘subtext’ lying behind the words.
Delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations can manifest as symptoms in people with dementia and are difficult to handle. When dealing with these behaviors, it is best to avoid arguing or imposing the truth on them as this can agitate instead of calm. It is possible that medication could assist with these issues, so it is best to speak with the trusted doctor to see if this is the case. If you want to distract the person, then you can gently redirect his or her focus onto something different.
Understanding Sleep Disturbances
People with dementia often struggle to have a regular sleeping routine. If the sleeplessness or wandering at night worsens, and the person is alone, then you should consider hiring a helper for night time care. Caffeine, alcohol, and sugar can all be stressors to the adrenals, so avoid giving the person any of these or at least lessen the amount.
The exact reason why a person with dementia tends to wander is mainly unknown. However, there are a few things that can help you to deal with it. Consider ‘child-proofing’ the house, especially doorknobs. Another option that may seem a little extreme but can actually be a big help is to use a tracking device. This way, if your loved one wanders off without you knowing, then you will be able to find him or her much easier. In the case that the person goes missing, ensure that you have an up to date photo to use if you need to begin a search for him or her. Door alarms that ring when the door is opened can help in letting you know if your loved one is wandering. However, noise can also be confusing and upsetting.
Many more upsetting issues come along with dementia, and it will be unique for everyone. It may seem silly, but developing a meditation practice for yourself can help you. This is because in the moments when you feel exasperated and unsure if you have any patience left in your reserve, you can come immediately draw on the inner peace that develops from meditation, take a deep breath, and keep trying.