Alzheimer’s and Dementia Behavior Management

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It can be upsetting when a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or similar dementia exhibits behavioral issues, including wandering, aggression, or hallucinations. These hints can be useful.

Behavioral Issues Caused by Dementia or Alzheimer’s

Dealing with the problematic behavior and personality changes that frequently take place is one of the biggest problems of caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or any dementia. Hallucinations, aggression, roaming, or problems with eating or sleeping can be stressful and make your job as a caretaker even more challenging. 

It’s critical to keep in mind that the person with dementia is not being purposefully difficult, regardless of the issues you’re facing. Your loved one’s environment, incapacity to handle stress, or failed communication attempts frequently exacerbate their behavioral problems.

You may greatly enhance your loved one’s well-being, reduce their stress, better manage their symptoms, and your own caregiving experience by making a few small modifications. Finding out what is making your patient anxious or uncomfortable is the first step in dealing with problematic behavior.

Remember that a patient with dementia responds to your facial expression, tone of voice, and body language considerably more than the words you pick as you work to determine the causes. Utilize eye contact, a smile, or a comforting touch to assist you in communicating your point and demonstrate your sympathy. And try to keep your sense of humor, don’t take such behaviors personally.

There are five techniques to find the root reasons for a troublesome behavior.

  • Consider what your loved one might be feeling or attempting to say by observing their body language.
  • Consider what occurred right before the problematic conduct began. Was there a catalyst for the behavior?
  • Are the requirements of the patient being met? Is the person you care about thirsty, hungry, or in pain?
  • Does altering the atmosphere, such as by playing beloved music, aid in providing comfort to the person?
  • Your response to the problematic behavior was: Did your response improve the patient’s behavior, or did it make it worse?

Establish a Serene and Comforting Atmosphere

An Alzheimer’s or dementia patient might feel safe and at ease, thanks in large part to the setting and atmosphere you foster while providing care.

Make changes to the surroundings to lessen stressors that would otherwise cause agitation and confusion. There are several of these, such as loud or strange noises, dim lighting, mirrors or other reflective surfaces, vivid colors, and patterned wallpaper.

You should maintain your composure. The patient’s stress may escalate if they become concerned or agitated in response to problematic conduct. Instead of reacting to the behavior itself, pay attention to the emotion that is being sent by it. Try to maintain your pliability, patience, and ease. Take a break to calm down if you notice yourself becoming agitated or losing control.

Control Stress in a Patient with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

It’s possible that you’ll need to experiment to find the stress-reduction methods that will benefit your loved one with Alzheimer’s the most.

For both the Alzheimer’s patient and you, the caregiver, exercise is one of the best stress-relievers. Numerous problematic behaviors, including hostility, roaming, and trouble sleeping, can be positively impacted by regular walking, dancing, or sitting activities. Shopping centers indoors offer a lot of space for walking while being protected from the elements.

Your loved one may be able to rekindle old memories through simple activities. For instance, someone who used to like cooking can still find enjoyment in the straightforward work of washing vegetables for dinner. As much as you can, try to include your loved one in your regular routines. To relieve tension, consider folding clothes, watering plants, or taking a country drive.

It could also be calming and soothing for your loved one to think about the past. Even if they are unable to recollect recent events, they may be able to recall events that occurred decades ago. Try to probe them about their distant past in generic terms.

When someone you care about becomes anxious, play soothing music or their preferred genre. Additionally, music therapy can make mealtimes and bathtimes easier for the two of you by calming the person who has Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s still vital to interact with others. Spending time with various people in one-on-one scenarios can help to boost physical and social activity and relieve stress. However, spending time with big groups of strangers may increase tension for an Alzheimer’s or dementia sufferer.

Animals can serve as a beneficial nonverbal communication tool. A well-trained, docile animal can help calm your loved one and lessen violent behavior through playful interaction and soft touch. There are specialized groups that provide pet visits for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia if you don’t have a pet of your own.

Managing Dementia-related Behaviors: Wandering

Wandering is frequently preceded by restlessness and confusion. If a person with Alzheimer’s disease is thirsty, hungry, constipated, or in pain, they may show signs of restlessness. Additionally, when bored, anxious, or upset by an uncomfortable environment or a lack of exercise, they may pace or wander. Along with encouraging your loved one to move more each day, you can also

  • Transform pacing or restless behavior right away into useful work or exercise.
  • If the person seems confused, reassure them.
  • At the time of day when wandering happens the most frequently, divert the person with another activity.
  • Reduce the amount of noise and confusion. Close the curtains, turn off the TV or radio, or relocate the patient to a more tranquil area.
  • Consult a medical professional because side effects, drug combinations, or overmedicating can also cause disorientation.
  • Practical strategies to stop wandering
  • Install child safety locks on your windows and doors to keep your house secure.
  • Hide things that your loved one would always want if they left the house, such as handbags, shoes, or glasses.
  • Purchase cozy seats that limit movement, making it challenging for the patient to rise up on their own.
  • Putting a plan in place in case your loved one wanders
  • It’s wise to have a strategy in place in case your loved one wanders.
  • Share your phone number with others and let them know of your loved one’s propensity to wander.
  • Make sure your loved one is wearing an ID bracelet or clothing label. GPS-enabled digital devices can track the whereabouts of a loved one.
  • Have a recent picture of your loved one on hand, along with some dirty clothes, in case a police search becomes necessary. (With gloves on, put garments in a plastic bag; swap out the clothes every month.)
  • Join the Alzheimer’s Association’s Medic Alert and Safe Return Program in the United States, an identifying program that aids in finding lost Alzheimer’s patients.

Snooping Around and Hiding Items

The issue of caring for a patient who rummages through or hides objects in the house is not insurmountable.

Management of Rummaging/Hiding Behavior

  • To protect the contents of certain rooms or cabinets, lock them up. Also, secure all valuables.
  • Has the been mail delivered somewhere your loved one can’t access it, like a post office box?
  • Find out the person’s favored hiding spots if things do disappear.
  • Restrict access to trashcans, and before emptying any wastebaskets, look inside to see if anything has been stowed away.
  • defending your loved one against harm
  • Limit access to dangerous items like medicines, alcohol, power tools, sharp blades, cleaning supplies, and guns.
  • Put childproofing devices in unused electrical outlets to block them. To prevent the person from igniting the burners, cover the stove knobs.
  • Reduce the water heaters’ temperature.
  • Establish a specific drawer with objects that the person can “play” with safely when they want to dig about.

Anger and Violence

There are things you can do in the midst of an angry outburst, but maintaining a calm environment can also make a significant difference in controlling the tension that frequently leads to violent conduct.

  • Avoid confronting them or attempting to talk about their irate conduct. Keep in mind that a person with dementia is unable to recognize inappropriate behavior or develop control over it.
  • When someone is having an outburst, avoid making physical contact. Physical violence can result from this.
  • Allow the person to express their aggression. Allow them to vent their anger in peace. Just make sure you two are secure.
  • Get the person to focus on something more enjoyable.
  • Analyze the hostility for trends. Think of things like solitude, independence, boredom, pain, or exhaustion. Stay away from things that might enrage your loved one.
  • During the activities that the patient dislikes (but cannot be avoided), get assistance from others.
  • Don’t be offended by the aggressiveness. It is merely a component of dementia.

Suspicion and Hallucinations

The deteriorating senses of your loved one may cause hallucinations. Reduce their frequency by keeping the atmosphere peaceful, but when hallucinations or illusions do happen, don’t dispute what is real and what is made up. Instead, react to the sentiment expressed in the other person’s words. For instance, console your loved ones if they are worried. You might also wish to leave the room or engage in another activity to divert your loved one’s attention.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Doubt or Paranoia

Alzheimer’s patients may grow distrustful of those around them due to their confusion and memory loss, and they may even accuse their caregivers of stealing, betrayal, or other wrongdoing. Paranoia can also be exacerbated by violent media like movies or television.

  • Give a straightforward response to any charges, but don’t dispute or attempt to dissuade them from their concerns.
  • Use another activity to divert the patient’s attention, such as taking a stroll.
  • Try keeping a spare item available to swiftly relieve the patient’s anxieties if theft suspicions are centered on a specific item that is frequently lost, such as a wallet.
  • issues with sleep

The sleep-wake cycle is frequently disturbed by brain illness. Patients with Alzheimer’s may experience wakefulness, bewilderment, and disorientation starting around sundown and lasting all night. It’s known as “sundowning.”

The sundowning has two facets. First, restlessness at night may be caused by daytime confusion, overstimulation, and weariness. Second, some Alzheimer’s patients grow afraid of the dark, maybe as a result of the absence of familiar sounds and activities during the day. To ease this agony at night, the sufferer can look for safety and protection.

Guidelines for Reducing Agitation at Night

Boost your sleeping habits. To aid your loved one in falling asleep, provide a comfortable bed, lower the light and noise levels, and turn on calming music. Make sure they can’t tumble out of a chair or couch if they like to sleep there.

  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Be consistent with the time you go to bed and maintain the same bedtime routine. As an illustration, give the person a warm milk drink and a bath before bed.
  • Turn on a nightlight. Some dementia sufferers experience disturbing nighttime fantasies. A pet or stuffed animal may also be able to calm the sufferer and help them go asleep.
  • Put a toilet close to the bed. It may be tough to fall back asleep if someone wakes up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
  • Increase your loved one’s daily physical exercise to make them feel more exhausted at bedtime.
  • observe sleeping. A quick nap in the afternoon can help the person sleep better at night if they appear to be really worn out during the day. But keep your naps brief.
  • Limit the patient’s daytime consumption of sugar, caffeine, and junk food.

Managing Pace and Nighttime Wakefulness

Make sure your loved one has a safe space to pace in at night if they do or arrange for another caregiver to take over at that time. You, too, require relaxation. You might wish to think about getting a hospital bed with rails for someone with Alzheimer’s in its later stages.

Due to their inability to recognize the passing of day and night, some dementia patients have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Their sleep habits may be improved by increasing exposure to strong light during the day and taking melatonin supplements at night.

Eating Issues

For any caregiver, making sure someone with Alzheimer’s eats and drinks enough can be difficult. Try these suggestions to help your loved one feel more hungry and thirsty while also encouraging exercise:

Tip 1: Keep track of prescriptions

Certain drugs affect appetite. Make sure your loved one consumes enough liquids with their meals because some people may have dry mouths. Discuss eating issues with their doctor to determine whether any medication changes are necessary.

Tip 2: Make mealtimes enjoyable for your significant other.

Play some calming music or place some flowers on the table. Prepare your loved one’s favorite dish and serve it on a plate that has a strong color contrast to the food. Limit interruptions when eating and stay away from foods that are overly hot or cold.

Tip 3: Make feeding entertaining, uncomplicated, and amusing.

Try feeding your loved one with a little spoon while singing silly rhymes. Put a little food in their mouths as they smile. Choose finger foods or use children’s sipper cups, as people with dementia may have difficulty using standard cutlery.

Tip 4: Monitor chewing and swallowing

As Alzheimer’s advances, difficulty chewing and swallowing may appear. Give your loved one directions on when to swallow and when to chew, if necessary. Keep them upright for 30 minutes after eating to prevent choking.

Tip 5: Make the switch to soft or puréed foods.

Your loved one can lose the ability to swallow solid meals in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. When the moment is right, switch to a liquid-only diet.

Do Not Neglect to Look After Yourself

Giving care to a family member who has dementia can be incredibly difficult and distressing. More difficulties and concerns may arise every day, frequently with no expressions of gratitude from the person you are caring for. The quality of life of both you and your loved one depends on you taking care of yourself and receiving support.

To help you relax and regain your energy, respite care can offer a break. Utilize the resources at your disposal, and ask your family for assistance. It could mean the difference between your success as a caregiver and the patient’s well-being.

If you are interested in more articles like this, here’s one about understanding elder fraud abuse.

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