An individual with dementia can experience aggression, confusion, and manipulation on a regular basis. It is important to understand that these Dementia behaviours are signs of your loved one’s disease.
Dementia behaviours can mean that simple everyday tasks such as taking a bath or even getting dressed become triggers for anxiety and confusion. Unfortunately, this often leads to a variety of negative behaviours which can be confronting for carers and other loved ones.
In previous blog posts, we have included additional tips and tricks about caring for a person with dementia.
Coping with these negative dementia behaviours and knowing how to respond effectively can be emotionally and physically exhausting. However, understanding the root causes of these behaviours as well as their learning mechanisms will help you respond more effectively.
Read further to learn more about common dementia behaviours and expert advice on how to respond to each one.
Signs of aggression are common among people who are receiving dementia care at home. This can be demonstrated through dementia behaviours such as lashing out, verbal abuse, making combative statements or even physical abuse or violence.
Often this behaviour comes from your loved one feeling alone or afraid. Your loved ones might not understand what is happening to them. They may be frustrated that they cannot remember things that were simple in the past.
In order to respond, it is important to understand what is causing their dementia behaviour.
Understanding the cause of the behaviour will help you identify and treat the underlying problem.
Companion Pets / Perfect Petzzz are an ideal solution due to their calming effects and proven positive psychological impacts on your loved one. Also, they provide comfort and companionship especially for the elderly.
It is also important not to argue with the person. This will only escalate the situation and probably make it more difficult to resolve.
Individuals with dementia can often get confused about people and places in their life that were once very familiar.
For example, people receiving dementia care at home might “want to go home” even if they are sitting comfortably in their living room. Or they might not understand how they got to a certain place or how or why they are travelling somewhere.
In order to help reassure them and alleviate confusion, it is important to stay supportive and calm. As well, you can provide simple explanations and solutions to help orient them on where they are.
Another way of helping is to use a picture to remind them where they are. If your loved one forgets the time or is confused about when certain things need to get done, you can set alarms or other reminders that will alert them.
Sometimes, the negotiation tactics that people with dementia utilise feel manipulative to loved ones and carers. They make statements like, “If you let me do this then I will do that.” These can be difficult to respond to in a caring yet supportive manner.
This type of language comes from a person with dementia trying to fulfil a desire for security or trust. Someone receiving dementia care at home may feel like they are losing control and want to regain that control.
When handling it, it is important to separate the behaviour from your loved one. Make sure that any comments address specific language or attitudes.
Setting limits, communicating expectations, and working together to find a solution is usually helpful in these situations.
As a caregiver, stay calm and don’t feel guilty. When providing dementia care at home, it is important to ask for help if you need it. Don’t forget that the behaviour is often outside of the person’s control. They will be looking to you for help and reassurance, not negativity.
Finally, as a carer or loved one of someone with dementia, don’t forget about self-care activities. Make sure that you get the care that you need to stay patient and help your loved one.
Dementia Australia has a number of great resources and is a good place to start.
Your Home. Your Health. We Care.