If you have a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you are probably familiar with certain challenging behaviors. Prior to their diagnosis, you may have viewed someone with dementia as just exhibiting symptoms of confusion or memory loss, while remaining quiet and complacent. However, chances are you now know that’s not the case. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can cause a person to do inappropriate things in public that can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, or even harmful to themselves or others. As a family member to someone living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it can be difficult to handle these scenarios while keeping in mind what is best for your loved one. In fact, it can be one of the most difficult aspects of being a family caregiver.
Let’s explore some helpful ways you can properly understand how to continue to love, care, and respect your family member when they exhibit these difficult behaviors.
Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior in The Moment
The first step when dealing with a difficult situation is to remain calm and collected. While you may be feeling a variety of emotions, it’s important to maintain a respectful tone and not become overly flustered. Try to first refocus their attention on another activity or task, however, if they’re too upset to be refocused consider removing them from the situation. Also, keep in mind the ‘why’ in their action. For example, if your father is disrobing in public he may be too hot or his clothes could feel constricting. Often times there are simple practical reasons for their behavior that have not been considered.
Preventing Agitation and Aggression in the Future
During the later stages of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, it is not uncommon for a person to experience increased agitation and aggression. Usually, these behaviors are experienced during times of overstimulation like a crowded public space, during showering or bathing, or another stressful situation. The person may not be able to communicate their feelings so their stress and frustration manifest itself in a physical way. It’s important to identify the cause of these outbursts and try to prevent them in the future. For example, if your mother becomes combative at a busy restaurant, consider in the future eating at a less-crowded time or picking a quieter restaurant.
Considering Alternative Methods to Mitigate Behaviors
Many people living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia experience depression and anxiety resulting from their stress. It may be best to consider medication that can help improve both mood and function for your loved ones. In addition to antidepressants and antianxiety medication, there are certain medications that can help mitigate symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s but early treatments began as soon as possible can help significantly decrease symptoms and discomfort.
Along with medication, difficult behaviors from Alzheimer’s can be minimized with environmental changes like calming aromatherapy, low lighting, a proper diet, and regular exercising.
The Springs at Simpsonville is here to help family caregivers. We specialize in assisting families during their Alzheimer’s or dementia journey. Contact us today for more information.