As a caregiver, it is important to be familiar with challenging dementia behaviors and how to approach them the right way.
People who have dementia will often start to exhibit some behaviors that people around them may not understand.
This typically happens as the disease progresses where, in most cases, the sickness brings out a different personality from the one the person usually has.
For instance, a loved one with dementia may start to use vulgar language, always using some unutterable words in their sentences even though they have never done so their entire life.
In some cases, a person who was once bubbly, fun, and outgoing may all over sudden withdraw from their circles, wanting to spend more time by themselves.
About 30-90% of people who have dementia will suffer from multiple behavioral disorders.
When such changes happen, it can be difficult for relatives, friends, and other people around the ill person to comprehend what is going on.
Below we try to help you understand challenging dementia behaviors.
Examples of Challenging Behaviors
Other than swearing and changes in personalities, there are other challenging behaviors dementia patients may showcase like:
- Repeating the same activity or question
- Sleep disturbance and night-time waking
- Following a spouse or partner everywhere
- Agitation or anger
- Restlessness, fidgeting, wandering, and pacing up and down
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
- Inappropriate sexual behavior
- Physical aggression, etc.
What Causes Challenging Behaviors?
It is important to note that dementia usually affects the human brain negatively. The brain, on the other hand, is one of the organs that control a person’s behavior.
This implies that the illness does not only affect memory and thinking but behaviors as well. In essence, there are three types of factors that bring about baffling dementia behaviors.
Main factors for challenging behaviors
1. Physical causes – These can include illness or discomfort.
2. External/environmental causes – This can be anything from a different routine to an environment that overstimulates the person who has dementia.
3. Cognitive/psychological causes – These include factors like paranoia or confusion
Responding to Dementia Behaviors
There is no scientific way of dealing with some of the behaviors that people with dementia start to showcase along the way.
Most of the time, caregivers must try and figure out what is causing a specific behavior to know to respond effectively or try and prevent the cause altogether.
For example, you may notice that certain things trigger these puzzling dementia behaviors. It may be the ill person only acts in a specific way at the same time of the day. They may be doing this as a way of communicating their needs because most people with dementia usually develop communication problems.
You may also want to consider too much noise or clutter as a trigger. It is usually helpful to keep a diary for one or two weeks. These can help you identify the triggers that will reduce or eliminate behavioral problems.
Experts also advise that caregivers should ensure that the suffering person under their care maintains a healthy social life.
Additionally, gentle exercises might also help to reduce those behaviors that may seem out of character.
Other steps that a carer can take to assist include:
- Offering reassurance
- Conducting activities that promote self-confidence while giving pleasure such as dancing or listening to some good tunes
- Ensuring the person with dementia stays in a calm and quiet environment
Caregivers need to remain positive, patient, and calm when dealing with daunting dementia behaviors.
Never try to use force or argue with a person who is going through challenging behaviors because of the illness. They also need to avoid lengthy explanations because it is usually hard to reason with a person who has dementia.
It is also advisable for caregivers to take short breaks when feeling overwhelmed by all the behavioral changes. Seeking help from others can also help pinpoint new solutions that will take care of the current problems.
When it is not possible to handle these behaviors alone, it may be time to see a physician.
The professionals might prescribe some medication that will help with behavioral issues. Treating these problems is crucial because it helps to improve the quality of life of the carer and the person with the illness. It may also help to prevent untimely institutionalization.
It is not unusual for a person to feel hurt or experience frustration when a loved with dementia is going through perplexing dementia behaviors.
However, even when going through this wide range of emotions, it is vital always to remember that the changes in behaviors are a result of the sickness and it is not a person’s choice. These can help you better cope with these feelings for the good of all parties.