When your loved one has mid-to-late stage dementia, it’s common for them to present new behavioral problems. The progression of the disease comes with many emotions, such as confusion, anger, sadness, paranoia, and fear. This can result in issues that often make it difficult to communicate with loved ones with dementia.
This is one of the most distressing parts of dementia care. It’s also enormously frustrating for those with the condition. Although this can be difficult to understand the behavior, having an understanding of the most common issues that come up and how to (and not to) respond can help empower you to respond calmly and effectively.
Unfortunately, due to the confusion, fear, and anger they feel as a result of their condition, it’s common for people with dementia to be irritable and even aggressive. They might resist you and become increasingly agitated.
If this happens, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re not choosing to be aggressive. Aggression is most commonly caused by something, such as discomfort, being overwhelmed, or poor communication. Often, people with dementia feel helpless, and this can cause them to act out in response.
DO: Start by identifying the cause of their aggression. What is this person feeling that makes them respond with aggression? This will help you determine the best course of action. Once you know that they aren’t in danger, you can decide the best way to calm them down. Some people may respond well to a light touch and soothing tone of voice, while that may upset others more as they want more space. Be sensitive to their needs during this time.
DON’T: The most important thing to do is to not try to force the issue. If you asking them to take a shower is getting them agitated, don’t push back. Avoid restraining the person unless you absolutely have to for their safety.
Individuals with dementia have declining cognitive function, which means that their memory is affected. This often causes them to become disoriented about what’s happening. They often feel out of control of their own lives. It’s typical for someone with dementia to become confused about where they are and demand to go home, even if they are home.
DO: There are a few ways to respond to someone with dementia who is confused. It helps to keep your answers to their questions simple, and offering tangible reminders can trigger their memory. In some cases, it may be better to simply redirect the person instead. It’s a matter of what is going to keep them safest.
DON’T: Do not go into lengthy explanations with someone with dementia. They don’t have the reasoning skills necessary to understand what you’re telling them. Keep it simple, or provide an activity to distract them.
A person with dementia may struggle to use logic or other cognitive skills. They might accuse you of theft or struggle with basic math or money management. They may repeat themselves or hoard things that they don’t really need. This is because their brain cells are deteriorating, leading to delusions and paranoia.
DO: First, make sure you have a handle on the situation. If you don’t want to ask directly, you can look at their checkbook, through their bills, or observe them figuring out tip at a restaurant. If you do find something, be sure to be reassuring as they might be embarrassed. You can help them by gently offering to help in small ways. Over time, you may be able to take over their finances for them entirely.
DON’T: Don’t try to argue with them, or blatantly question how they are handling things. If you come off as accusatory, this can cause them to get angry and shut down.
Caring with a loved one with dementia is challenging to say the least. You may benefit from the help of a private home care aide in Naples. Contact Gulf Shore Private Home Care to get started.