Dementia is a progressive disease. As time goes on, the brain’s functionality decreases resulting in a decrease of a multitude of other bodily functions (physical and mental). One of the most challenging aspects to handle is the changes in behavior from dementia. It is most important to try and see things from their perspective. You may not have a very clear idea of what they are thinking or feeling, so you must be as patient as possible.
Strategies For Managing Dementia Behavior Changes
There is no right way to deal with changes in behavior. The changes and needs of a person can vary depending on many different factors. Below are listed some general tips for dealing with behavior change.
- Help them stay in touch with loved ones- facetime, write letters, call, text, etc.
- Encourage the person to do things they enjoy or find useful- hobbies are always a great outlet.
- Make changes to their environment if necessary.
- Keep familiar, comforting or personal items close to them
- Keep their sleeping environment comfortable – adjust the thermostat, use extra cushioning or pillows if needed.
- Be aware of the person’s beliefs and thoughts and try not to argue with them
- Set up psychological therapies with professionals, such as cognitive stimulation therapy.
- Ask the person’s doctor to check for any possible physical causes, including pain, and advise on any treatments.
- Consider whether the behavior is really a problem. If it is disrupting a particular activity such as washing or dressing, ask yourself if this task really needs to be done right now or if you could come back to it later.
- Try to remember that the person is not behaving this way on purpose. Try not to take it personally. Their sense of reality may be very different from yours and they are responding to their own needs.
- Think about what you know about the person and their life. For example, if you know someone used to work night shifts, it might explain why they want to stay awake or go out at night.
- Even though a person with dementia may have problems with their memory, they still feel and respond to emotions.
- Offer the person gentle reassurance. If you need to, try stepping away from the situation to give you both time to calm down.
- Try not to show feelings of frustration as it may make things worse.
- Support the person to do as much as they can for themselves. The behavior may be their response to the feeling that they are not able to contribute or are not valued by others.
- If you think they are bored, support them to find things to do that are engaging and mean something to them.
Changes in behavior can be very difficult for you. They may make you feel frustrated or distressed and affect your relationship with the person you’re caring for. You may also worry that people are judging you or expecting too much of you, or that they don’t understand the challenges you face.
Orchard at Brookhaven aims to help our residents and their families manage changes in behavior. Our highly effective staff is flexible and willing to work individuals for what they need. Please contact us today to learn more about our community and how we can help.