Dementia behaviors differ from person to person, through each day, and even during the hours of the same day for some people. The hard to handle problems can become very problematic, however, and knowing how to approach them and when to search for help is going to be a struggle when you are in the thick of it.
We’ve been there, and we know the difficulties that arise from these trying times. That’s why we put together some strategies that we employ on a daily basis with some of our hardest to handle patients to keep them calm and happy throughout the day.
Aggressive dementia behaviors or speech is a very common occurrence with all forms of dementia. What is most important to remember when the person in your care gets aggressive is that it has nothing to do with you. Taking it personally and getting angry at them is like adding fuel to the fire.
When you feel yourself getting angry as well, take a mental step back. Think of the situation as if it was an adult sized toddler in the situation, because like a toddler they aren’t doing anything to affect you. It’s all about them and what’s going on in their mind.
Often, the easiest explanation is that their anger is caused by fear (from confusion about the situation) or some ache or pain from an elderly body. If you approach each aggressive outburst from this position, you’ll deflate the situation with ease.
- Bad Decisions
Not being able to calculate simple math, like adding a tip at the end of a meal, or accusing family members of stealing are very common occurrences early on. Hoarding of seemingly useless household items is another. These will only get worse.
Just like with the earlier situations, when handled incorrectly, they can lead to a much more hostile response than you want. So, whatever you do, don’t approach it head on. Questioning them about why they can’t do basic math or telling them that they misplaced an item and that you didn’t steal it is a bad direction to go.
Instead, try being encouraging. If they can’t do the math, help them and say “I think your math is right but let me check with you” and do it for them. When they’ve accused you of stealing something and you know where it is, tell them “I didn’t steal it, it’s in the closet, come with me and I’ll show you.”
When things get worse, this will just be a repetitive cycle, and they may ask the same questions over and over again. Your job is to try to steer them away from that by answering the question with a short response and changing the subject immediately. It is unlikely that a first attempt will stick, or maybe even 50 attempts, but it’s a lot better than making them angry.
Confusion is one of the hallmark dementia behaviors, and it’s because the memory cells in the brain are deteriorating rapidly and with each passing second. This will lead to confusion about where they are, who you are, and even if they’ve told you something (even after the 20th time repeating it that day.)
These things are to be expected, and the main skill you need to develop is patience. Patience is the one thing, above all, that will help with the hard dementia behaviors. As the confusion becomes greater, the calmer you are, the better the outcome.
It doesn’t hurt to use humor to deflect questions that are difficult if that comes naturally. Just make sure that the humor is about the situation and not directed towards them. If they ask when they get to go home when you are out together you can say something like “sometime next week” with a smile.
Anything humorous needs to be followed with a smile or they may think you are serious. That’s, for obvious reasons, not a good thing!
- Lack of Strength
If they make it long enough to get to a point where they can barely move, then you may want to get full time help or take them to a facility that can better care for them. The thing is, if you can’t help them eat, walk, and use the bathroom then things will go from bad to worse.
They won’t be able to keep their weight on because they can’t use a fork and they will slowly waste away. If they need help walking and you aren’t there, they might fall and break bones. When you can’t help them to the restroom, they will get infections from being dirty.
A professional is the best option in this case. They will ensure that their standard of living remains higher than you could do on your own in their final years. It is a hard thing to do, but it will be better for everyone involved.
Colonial knows how to handle hard dementia behaviors and our staff is trained to handle them in the right way. If you think you might need help, call us at (714) 289-7220, or you can email us here for more information today!