Changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease can lead to unpredictable and unusual behavior and thinking. If you are caring for a loved one with this memory-related condition, learn more about Alzheimer’s unpredictable behavior and how to remain calm and deal with it.
Behavioral Changes in Alzheimer’s Patients
For patients with Alzheimer’s, they may abruptly become anxious around family members or close friends whom they may not recognize or in situations that are different from what they are used to. The patient may also become delusional or grow to become suspicious and strongly maintains false ideas even with the presence of contradictory evidence. The patient may also begin to withdraw from social interaction, become aggressive, wander, and become easily irritable and angry.
Managing Behavioral Changes
- Stay Calm
If your older loved one becomes aggressive or agitated, try playing soothing music, reading a book, looking at old pictures together, going for a walk, or engaging in a fun activity. Talk about your childhood or stories about activities that your loved one used to enjoy. They are more likely to remember events from many years ago as compared to those that just happened recently. Talking about positive things can be calming and comforting.
Provide your loved ones with reassurance even if they do not respond. Use a soft-tone voice and remain affectionate and protective. If they are experiencing any delusions, assure them instead of being defensive.
- Redirect, not Correct
Do not correct your loved ones or confront them if they become upset. Do not try to argue or convince them that they are in the wrong. This will cause them to become further irritable and agitated which may upset them. A better approach is to simply show that you are in agreement with the things they say or to simply find a new topic to discuss or activity to participate in.
- Identify Triggers
Try identifying any actions, situations, or words that may trigger dangerous or inappropriate behavior. Document any of such episodes so as to avoid the triggers in the future.
- Gain Attention
Turn off loud televisions and radios and clear the area of clutter and distractions before you sit down to talk to your loved one. This can help to improve their attention. Sit down with your loved one at the same level. If they prefer standing up, you need to stand up too and always maintain eye contact.
- Reword Statements
It may help to reword your statements or simplify them. If your loved one does not seem to understand, be supportive and patient throughout the whole conversation. It is easy for those with Alzheimer’s to become confused or anxious. Speak with fewer words and in short sentences as much as possible.
- Keep It Simple
Keep up with simple routines and try to avoid situations that require your loved one to make a decision. Having to come up with a decision can be frustrating and cause your loved one to grow anxious. Open-ended questions are also not recommended for those with Alzheimer’s.