As a caregiver of someone with dementia, it is important for you to understand how to respond to dementia and behaviors. This will allow you to act in an amicable way that will prevent agitation and aggression. Continue reading to learn how to identify common triggers for behaviors related to dementia and list down various ways to address challenging behaviors associated with dementia.
Triggers of Behavioral Changes
- Boredom or over-stimulation
- Discomfort or pain
- Unfamiliar surroundings
- Frustration or fear
- Complicated tasks
Challenging Behaviors Related to Dementia
- Suspicion or confusion
- Agitation or anxiety
Understanding and Responding to the Behavior
- Detect and connect
- Address physical and emotional needs
- Re-assess for future planning
Detect and Connect
You need to join the person with dementia in their reality by trying to envision the world through their eyes. You can understand their reality in context by asking yourself who, what, where, when, how, and what took place before, during, and after the behavior happened? Subsequently, approach the person in a calm manner with full respect.
Address Physical and Emotional Needs
Address the person’s medical issues or pain along with other physical concerns like hunger or thirst, medication reactions, lack of social interaction, and bathroom needs. Also, look out for environmental triggers that cause discomforts such as restrictive clothing, glare, lighting, or sounds, and room temperature. For their emotional needs, focus on the person’s feelings during a conversation instead of paying too much attention to their words. Think about how a particular situation makes that person feel. Use your knowledge of the person’s preferences to offer effective interventions and reassure them that you are there to help. Redirect any negative energy into a more soothing activity.
Reassess for Future Planning
Revisit the component on detecting and connecting. Join in the person’s reality and determine what went well and what did not. What are some improvements that you can make? Develop an intervention plan that includes who can provide help with assessing the situation and providing interventions. What to try and in what order if a particular situation escalates?
Apply the Three Steps
- Identifying behavior
- Describing scenario
- Apply the three steps
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease may showcase behaviors like pacing and wandering while muttering repetitive words. Listen to the words they say and try to understand their situation through their reality. If they are not willing to rest or stop pacing and wandering, redirect by asking them things like “we can continue after dinner”. If the person is experiencing pain or discomfort, look at their clothing and shoes and whether they are eating well. If they refuse to sit down at the table to eat, give them a snack so they can eat while pacing. Even when you do not understand what they are muttering, reassure them that you are available to help. Engage them in an amicable manner and offer a soothing activity that they might like. Note down the different behavioral changes so you can assess them to plan for future responses.