Dementia: Coping with normal, sometimes stressful behaviors


Personality changes can be the most challenging aspect of dementia care.

A confused grandfather sat on his dementia bed, a grown son kneeling, holding his hands, talking to him.Dementia poses many challenges for those who struggle with it and those close to them. It can be difficult to witness and cope with common behaviors caused by such diseases Dementia, Vascular disordersOr Frontal dementia.

Caring for someone with dementia can be frustrating, confusing, or frustrating at times. Understanding why certain behaviors occur and learning how to handle different situations can help smooth the road ahead.

What characteristics are common when someone has dementia?

People with dementia often exhibit unusual behaviors, such as:

  • Making unusual statements or using the wrong words for certain items.
  • You should not forget that they need to be washed or how to maintain good hygiene.
  • Ask yourself the same question over and over again.
  • Misplacing things or taking other people’s things.
  • Not knowing you or remembering who they are.
  • Be sure that your loved one is still alive.
  • Storing things like mail or trash.
  • Exhibiting paranoid behavior.
  • Easily confused or upset.
  • Leaving the house without telling you and disappearing.

Why do these behaviors occur?

In the mind of a loved one with dementia, imagine the course of the wildfires that damage or destroy the brain cells (neurons) and neural networks that control our behavior.

It depends on the cause or causes of dementia that causes this damage. For example, Alzheimer’s disease is strongly linked to proteins that fire or suffocate brain cells, although the exact cause is not known. A person with vascular disease occasionally experiences insufficient blood flow to certain areas of the brain, causing nerve cells to die.

“As dementia progresses, the person loses brain cells involved in memory, planning, reasoning, and emotion regulation. You lose your filters,” says Dr. Stephanie Collier, a psychiatrist at Harvard-McLean Hospital.

Six strategies for coping with dementia-related behaviors

Dealing with distressing or confusing dementia-related behavior may require a different approach with your child. “Due to decline, elderly people with mental illness may seem like children. But people are generally more patient with children. You should use this method with older adults,” said Lydia Cho, a neuropsychologist at McLean Hospital.

  • Do not point out incorrect or strange statements. “It can make people with dementia feel stupid or downcast. They may not remember the details, but they still have those feelings, feel isolated and distracted. Instead, relax. Just go with what they say. Keep things simple,” says Cho.
  • Don’t try to reason with the person. Dementia has affected your loved one’s awareness. Trying to reason can be frustrating for both of you.
  • Use distractions. This helps when the person makes unreasonable demands or is mildly angry. “Accept what the person is saying and change their behavior. You can say, ‘I see you’re upset. Let’s go here for a minute.'” And then do an activity that engages the senses and relaxes, such as sitting outside together, listening to music, folding socks, or eating a piece of fruit.
  • Keep unsafe items out of sight. Put away or lock up things your loved one shouldn’t have — especially things that could be dangerous, like car keys or liquids. Consider installing cabinet locks.
  • Monitor sanitation procedures. A person with dementia may need to be reminded to take a shower or may need to put the day’s clothes on the bed. or by washing, shaving, Brushing teethor wearing clothes.
  • Spend time together. You don’t have to convince your loved one of your identity or engage in charming conversation. Just listen to music or do some simple activities together. It helps keep the person from withdrawing further.

Safety is important if someone has dementia

Sometimes simple strategies are not enough when a loved one is experiencing dementia.

For example, if the person frequently tries to leave the house, you may need to add childproof covers to door handles, install additional door locks or a security system in your home, or get the person a GPS tracking bracelet.

If the person is frequently angry or aggressive, you need to Call the doctor. A new medical problem (for example, a urinary tract infection) may be triggering. “If the agitated behavior is not due to a new medical condition and is predictable and severe, we may prescribe a medication to help manage mood, such as an antidepressant or antipsychotic, when there is severe anxiety or hostility,” says Dr. Collier. .

When dementia changes, ask for the help and support you need

No one expects you to know how to deal with someone with dementia. There’s a learning curve for all of us, and it continues even after you’ve gotten used to it. “The process is changing,” says Cho. “What works today may not work for your loved one next week or so. So try different strategies.”

And find support for yourself, such as group therapy with caregivers and their families. You can also find information on Alzheimer’s Association Or Family Caregiver Alliance.


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