More Tips on Overcoming Dementia Behavior Problems

By on October 28, 2013
dementia behavior problems

Overcoming Dementia Behavior problems … 50 tips for dementia Home Care Tips and Strategies

Do not become impatient when answering the same question over and over

When addressing the very same inquiry over and over, do not become impatient or frustrated. In my early years in nursing, I had an elderly female patient that would ask me “ Can you help me?” I would answer her and she would smile. Less than 30 seconds later, she would ask the same question again. She did this a many thousand of times over the years prior to her death.

As you know, dementia has extreme impact on an individual’s short-term memory. Some family caregivers believe the dementia patient is trying to irritate them. Yes, it can be frustrating answering the same question over and over, but remember that your family member is not trying to “tick you off”, so try not to get (or appear) annoyed. Expecting and properly managing repetitive behavior takes patience. Try to think what it must be like not to remember what you did a minute ago, or what you had for breakfast.

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React to the emotion expressed, if your family member’s speech is incoherent or absent

In the later stages of dementia, it can be difficult understanding what your family member needs. Don’t forget to look for nonverbal clues as aids in assisting your evaluation. Look for grimacing if in pain, or rising and down as if needing to have a bowel movement.

Encourage good behaviors

Everybody likes to be praised, and those with dementia are no different. Find something to praise the dementia patient, even if you are in the middle of experiencing a challenging behavior. Remember that individuals with dementia are emotion-oriented. Appreciation always promotes a positive emotional state.  You’ll have it much better to “radiate the light” rather than “cursing the night”.

Manage problem behaviors

Dementia home care planning needs an evaluation and plan for ways to deal with challenging behaviors, since you will probably experience them. The majority of family caregivers, dealing with a dementia patient, will eventually experience negative or challenging behaviors. Some may have a challenge every day.

In my book Dementia Behaviors you will find behavior-specific guidance, ideas, and strategies to help you better manage challenging or negative behaviors.
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Concentrate on dementia patient’s behaviors and mood, instead of on the activity itself

At times, as a family caregiver, we get so caught up in attempting to complete an activity (after all, they do need to eat, get a shower, take their medications, and so on) that we forget we’re managing a person as opposed to a task. I assure you, irritation and frustration will be what you experience, if you focus on just completing the activity.

When practicing mindfulness, rather, concentrate on your family member with dementia, in order to complete the job. Be attentive to their present behaviors and mood. Use that to your advantage to aid you in completing the activity. Integrating this dementia home care strategy is a must if your family member displays challenging behaviors.

Respond to requests or questions

Don’t disregard your family member with dementia when they have questions or make demands, even if what they want is unreasonable. For illogical or senseless requests, divert or redirect them to various other tasks. Do not make promises you cannot keep. Do exactly what you state you will do. It is important to build trust as well as avoid negative behaviors from occurring.

Provide one instruction each time

Among the hallmarks of disease is the reduction of the ability to multi-task.  That is, a task that takes many steps to complete, will take step-by-step cues from the family caregiver. For example when trying to assist someone to dress:  “Put on your trousers.” (After the pants are on) “Put on your shirt,” and so on, up until finished. The trick is to break down commands into bite-sized portions, the understanding equivalent to consuming a big meal, one bite at a time.

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Involve in activities

dementia behavior problemsActivities are so important to avoiding or decreasing challenging or negative behaviors. Persons with dementia need consistency and routine, yet this does not mean they have to be bored. And they will get bored without something occupying their time. Practical stimulation of the senses through activities benefits both mind and physical body. Your will see changes in your   perspective: decreased negative   behaviors, and much more peaceful rest and sleep.

Involve a range of stimulations, such as pets, music, painting, to, whatever tasks the dementia patient is capable of, without over stimulating. Remember, there are a variety of types of activities, from recreational, to social, to activities of daily living. If you have completed the person centered care profile, there may be hobbies or interests from the past that may interest your family member now.

It’s OK if the dementia patient is not capable of identifying just what the “end objective” of an activity is, such as finishing coloring a page.  The “busy work ” will provide something positive to do. The length of the activity needs to generally be connected to the individual’s energy level. Do not put the focus on accomplishing an established goal. Activities are the most neglected, yet most beneficial dementia home care strategy. This is one strategy that should be included in your plan of care everyday.

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 Are you dealing with difficulties in providing care for your family member with dementia at home? Here are some more strategies to incorporate into your dementia home care plan.

 Do not expect immediate responses to requests

Provide the dementia patient extra time to respond to your commands, directions or concerns. If you push too hard, you are likely to run into resistance, or even worse, intensify stress and anxiety resulting in difficult behaviors.

Don’t attempt to changes the dementia patients mind unless acting inappropriately dementa activity probelms

Individual with dementia are far more likely to have delusions and hallucinations, especially if diagnosed with dementia types that trigger these issues, such as Lewy body dementia. It is hard to understand that in those moments the dementia patient is living in a world that is not real.

It is important not to try to change their mind if they are set on believing what you are telling them.  I once had a patient that believed she had a boyfriend that traveled the world. She would talk about him all the time. Many people that did not know this lady, believed her stories of his adventures. Of course, when the time came to ask how often she saw him, she responded that they spoke daily, and all she had to do to contact him was cup her hands together and speak into the palms of her hands.  She was so happy talking about him and his adventures, no one would dare tell her he was not real.

Of course, you want to redirect, divert or distract a person with dementia when they have thoughts that are not hurtful to her or others. But, allow them some joy and peace living in her own little world.

There are times when a dementia patient at home becomes paranoid, suspicious, and even accusatory. When these behaviors manifest, it is best to discuss with your health care provider how to take appropriate measures. Sometimes, that measure may be an admission to a senior behavioral health unit.
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Help the dementia patient preserve social contacts

The majority of people, including those with dementia, have family and friends. They still recognize individuals from church or a social club, particularly in the early stage dementia. Some have been extremely active in the community. Urge those whom the individual is close to, to visit and interact. Encourage as active a social life as is possible. This can be very difficult in the early stages of dementia, as apathy and lack of motivation are common issues. Maintaining family and social contacts will stimulate the mind, enhance the mood, and provide an activity.  This strategy may delay the cognitive decline in your family member with dementia. It’s a great dementia home care technique.

Don’t anticipate reasonable/rational behavior

The individual’s capability to be reasonable starts to fade as dementia progresses, because of parts of the brain deteriorate. Understanding and anticipating unreasonable behavior is important for effective ongoing dementia home care. In my book, Dementia Behaviors you will learn about the different behaviors that may occur and strategies to handle those behaviors.

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Expect memory loss over time

 Numerous (but not all) individuals with dementia will completely lose their memories by the end stage of the illness. Once-familiar family members, faces of caregivers and pals, easy tasks they practiced in the past, fundamental bodily functions – these are now lost and as soon as gone they cannot be recalled. This is one of the most challenging concerns for those associated with dementia home care to accept. At www.caregiverrelief.com  we have some ideas on ways to make the most of this heart-wrenching time.

Activity goal for the dementia patient should to be enjoyment, not accomplishment

 There’s absolutely nothing wrong with goal setting and achievement. In fact, when going through treatment (speech, occupational, physical) accomplishment is essential. Restoring some lost function or overcoming new obstacles connected to injuries or new medical conditions are realistic goals. Normally, however, the objective for the individual with dementia is balancing health and satisfaction of life – not striving to accomplish goals and accomplishments.

Use “mirroring” strategies elderly couple washing teeth

Those with dementia not only forget to do certain things, they forget the best ways to do them. Generally, they wish to cooperate, but just do not understand how to do the task at hand. This triggers aggravation and anxiety. This, in turn, can cause troubles in your dementia home care strategies. Be a “reflection in a mirror”, as it were, by showing to them ways to do the job you want them to do. You can make believe to brush your teeth to show how they can brush their teeth. This strategy, if properly executed, can make your task of getting task done a great deal easier.