When caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or dementia, behavior can be one of the most difficult parts of the daily journey. It’s important to understand that the disease changes your loved one’s brain, and because of these changes, communication problems can arise. Being aware of some of the more common behavioral problems that come with dementia can help you give your loved one the best possible care.
Aggression can come in the form of aggressive actions or speech. What you should remember in these times is that your loved one is not acting this way on purpose or even with much knowledge of the behavior. For those living with dementia, aggressive behavior can be triggered by some small discomfort, from physical discomfort to communication difficulties. If you can, try to identify what is causing your loved one discomfort. You can also try to shift their focus to something else by speaking calmly and redirecting the conversation.
Often times, people with dementia become confused about place or time. Your loved one may be confused about what year it is and speak as if they are stuck in a time when they were much younger. They may also become confused about certain places, such as where they currently live. Memory loss is a large part of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, so be patient with your loved one when they become confused. You can try using photos or simple explanations to get their mind back on track. You can also use a puzzle or a picture book.
- Poor Judgement
Often times, poor judgement first appears as small errors—moments when your loved one forgets to do certain tasks that they never have forgotten before. Poor hygiene, forgetting to pay bills, and even delusions can all be signs of poor judgement caused by the progression of your loved one’s Alzheimer’s or dementia. Your loved one may start to accuse family members of stealing from them when they misplace items in their house, or they may think that someone is after them when their power gets shut off because they forgot to pay their bill. If you notice any of these types of behaviors, make sure you are encouraging and reassuring. Offer small ways that you can help your loved one stay on top of things, such as taking over the power bill or balancing their checkbook for them. Instead of questioning their ability to handle certain tasks, slowly take those tasks over for them.
At The Cottage, we know how heartbreaking caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be. We have been helping families just like yours for over 30 years. Learn more about Memory Care at The Cottage.