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Dementia Care Dos & Don’ts: Dealing with Dementia Behavior Problems
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Tips for Managing Common Symptoms and Problems in Dementia Patients
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Ott B. Impaired awareness of deficits in Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimers Dis Assoc Disord. Neurochemical correlates of major depression in primary dementia. Alexopoulos G. Pharmacotherapy of depressive disorder in older adults. Postgrad Med Expert Consensus Guidelines, First, make sure both you and your loved one are safe, and are not in any physical danger, then simply allow your loved one to work through their anger with plenty of personal space.
Aggressive episodes are common in dementia illnesses. Do not take the anger personally. Focusing on an enjoyable activity or topic of discussion moves focus away from the anger and on to something that is a source of joy. Touching, hugging, or physically comforting your loved one may be an almost automatic response under normal circumstances, but often, physical contact only exacerbates the outburst.
Wandering, when your loved one with dementia leaves your home or place of care without your noticing, and sometimes through dangerous means, can result in extremely unsafe situations. Stress can result in disorientation and fear in your loved one, triggering the need to leave the environment or situation altogether. As dementia progresses, it can become increasingly difficult for your loved one to remember major environmental and life changes, such as their retirement, or having moved to a new city.
Your loved one may leave the house to head to work at a job they have long since retired from or try to visit a market that has been closed for years. When in pain, your loved one might seek to walk and move about to relieve it, unfortunately becoming lost in the process.
Stages and Behaviors
If boredom sets in, your loved one may seek activity outside of the home. This can be especially the case when there is little to no physical exercise enjoyed by your loved one. Your loved one may wander off and become lost or disoriented when searching for locations related to normal, daily activities, like the bathroom or kitchen. If your loved one is able to engage in physical activity, performing exercise throughout the day can help expend excess energy, reduce restlessness, and promote restful sleep.
If your loved one appears distressed and begins pacing, often a behavior that leads to wandering, offer reassurance that they are secure and all is well. Items that your loved one would commonly take with them when preparing to leave the house — like purses, keys, wallets, and jewelry — can be put away to help prevent wandering. Repeating an activity, question, or sentence again and again is a common occurrence for those with dementia.
Often rooted in anxiousness and needing to feel comfort, repetition can be particularly taxing on caregivers. While repetition can be an exhausting and frustrating behavior, understanding the root of the behaviors gives you better insight as to how you can help without overburdening yourself. The stress and anxiety brought about by this fear, coupled with the declining ability to form and ask questions and remember the answers, can lead to repetitive actions or questions. In these episodes of repetition, your loved one needs assurance and comfort most of all.
Hallucinations, the false sensory experience of an event or entity that does not exist, most commonly occur during the later stages of dementia-related illnesses. Loud, violent, depressive, or suspenseful television program and movies can instill feelings of paranoia, suspicion, and danger within a loved one suffering from dementia. Hallucinations can be a particularly debilitating behavior and can create high levels of stress for dementia sufferers and caregivers alike. Taking preventative steps to better manage hallucinations and knowing how to respond correctly can help quickly diffuse the episode and restore calm.
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Let your loved one know that you are here, the room is safe, and that they are secure and loved. Your loved one, over time, may begin the practice of collecting, hiding, and hoarding items. Hiding items is normally a harmless behavior; however, more advanced cases can pose serious health risks. Hiding items can be a very confusing behavior to encounter; however, the causes of this behavior are rooted in confusion and often communicate the need for security, novelty, and control.
As cognitive functions decline, the ability to distinguish useful items from trash becomes compromised, leading dementia suffers to believe that items of garbage are useful and valuable. Collecting items and storing them away indicates that your loved one feels insecure and has begun collecting these items out of fear of needing them some day or out of fear of being robbed. Your loved one may be collecting and hiding items in an attempt to cure boredom and a general lack of stimulating activity. As the ability to recall information degrades as a result of dementia, your loved one may not be able to recall where they placed keys, wallets, remote controls, or other items since they last used them.
The items your loved ones collects and hoards, at some level, provide a sense of comfort and security. By understanding their bond to the items and what the items represent, you can better manage incidents of potentially harmful hiding and hoarding. Your loved one may a dangerous or health-hazardous item. Your loved one has likely formed some type of emotional attachment to each item in their collection, making it difficult to remove.
Offer your loved one a trade — fresh banana slices for the old peels, new socks for the tattered, worn out socks — when looking to remove items. Letting your loved one know that their item may be going to a church, charitable organization, or a family in need can make them much more willing to part with the item. Dementia-related illnesses bring unique end-of-life care challenges and the challenges facing a dementia caregiver only grow more difficult as the disease progresses.
It is important to remember that the anger and frustration you may feel as a dementia caregiver is normal and does not make you a bad person. Taking breaks from the caregiving role is vital to your health and your ability to care for your loved one. Caregivers often overlook their own needs when bogged down by the stresses of caregiving. Making a clearly-defined "needs and wants" list can help focus your efforts, energy, and ensure clarity in communication with your loved one.
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Certificates Collections of education courses that provide comprehensive healthcare knowledge. Apraxia The inability to carry out physical motions and normal sensory functions even though physical ability and motor functions are not impaired, and the inability to comprehend how to go about completing a task and idea of the task itself. Delirium Those diagnosed with dementia have severely confused thinking and greatly reduced environmental awareness. Inability to Executively Function Dementia patients are not able to clearly think through a plan or grasp an abstract concept.
Aphasia As dementia progresses, dementia patients experience a decline in their ability to verbally communicate and convey ideas. Agnosia Agnosia is the inability to recognize familiar objects, even though normal sensory functions are intact. Mild Cognitive Impairment Mild cognitive impairments are difficulties concerning memory and overall decline in general cognitive function. How to Manage Sundowning Learning to effectively combat sundowning is key in ensuring both you and your loved one receive plenty of rest and are able to comfortably function throughout the day.
Set up a sleep schedule Keeping bedtime at a set time allows your loved one to mentally wind down. Encourage physical activity throughout the day Expending energy throughout the day helps the body wind down when bedtime approaches. Keep a commode near the bed Your loved one may have difficulty finding the bathroom or remembering where it is. How to Manage Aggression and Anger While you can take preventative measures as a caregiver, aggressive outbursts can become a common occurrence.
Allow the aggression to run its course First, make sure both you and your loved one are safe, and are not in any physical danger, then simply allow your loved one to work through their anger with plenty of personal space. Distract your loved one Focusing on an enjoyable activity or topic of discussion moves focus away from the anger and on to something that is a source of joy.
Refrain from physical contact Touching, hugging, or physically comforting your loved one may be an almost automatic response under normal circumstances, but often, physical contact only exacerbates the outburst.