Dementia Behavior Changes and How to Accommodate
Variances in behavior is an outcome of brain changes throughout dementia, mostly acting as a means of communication when the ability to do so is compromised. You may start noticing more frequent behaviors of agitation, irritation, and anxiety and potentially exacerbating to sleeplessness, poor hygiene, and wandering. The following tips and advises can help you manage dementia behaviors in the elderly:
Stay Patient and Communicate Effectively
While behavior changes may be taxing on your patience, it is important to remember your loved one is not behaving differently on purpose and may just be trying to tell you something, whether based on confusion or a physical need such as hunger. Communicating effectively and reacting in a positive can detour further aggressions and agitations, while helping to pinpoint the root of the behavior. Individuals should speak as clearly and precisely as possible, identifying the key points and limiting any noise distractions, along with listening with attentiveness and non-judgment. Along with verbal communication, individuals should exhibit positive body language and respond in a warm and inviting manner.
Establish and Structure Daily Routines
Though memory may be negotiated, individuals may still be able to keep habits intact. Establishing structure in the day by setting times for meals, personal hygiene routines, and household chores can nurture such habits, in turn lessening the risk of confusion and agitation. Individuals with dementia may also experience Sundowner’s Syndrome, a cluster of neurological changes associated with increased confusion and restlessness when the sun goes down. Structuring a sleep schedule can minimize the severity of “sundowning,” further developing sound sleep cycles, diminishing sleep disturbances, and encouraging more wakeful and happier days.
Offer Activities to Limit Wandering
Wandering is commonly witnessed in people with dementia and tends to worsen as the stages progress. Though there may be compounding factors leading to wandering, it can be a result from boredom or looking for something or something. Especially in bouts of boredom, offering activities cannot only keep seniors preoccupied or distracted from wandering, but can also maintain both physical and mental health. Keep seniors busy throughout the day by playing games, taking a walk, assigning simple household chores, and other activities they seem to enjoy.
Deal with Hygiene Concerns
A dramatic decline in brain function can start impeding on good hygiene. In fact, people with dementia oftentimes forget how to practice good hygiene practices, including bathing, brushing teeth, and using the bathroom. Although it is still important to respect their privacy, caregivers should assist wherever they see fit and appropriate, whether it be dressing or getting into the bathtub. Especially as dementia progresses, individuals may start losing control of the bladder and bowels, along with forgetting the bathroom’s location. Reduce the risk of such accidents by establishing a bathroom routine, monitoring fluid intake, and offering reminders and assistance as recognized and required.
Build and Confide in Support
You should not have to deal with this alone, nor do you have to! Whether with close friends, an online group, or with a professional counselor, confiding in support is highly beneficial for personal physical and mental health. Additionally, consider hiring a caregiver and remember, doing so is not an act of desperation, but rather an opportunity to best serve both you and your loved one.
Whether coping with a rebellious parent, dealing with repetitive phrases, or replying to common phrases oftentimes spoken, find more information regarding dementia behaviors and how to handle unique situations here.