8 Key Tactics to Aid in Dementia Behavior Problem Solving
When the symptoms of dementia become more severe, a person with such a diagnosis can begin to engage in what might be called “challenging behaviors.” If you are a family member or other loved one of a person with dementia, you may wonder how to address behavioral problems associated with the condition. In this article, we address eight tactics that may be able to guide you in addressing dementia behavior issues:
- Rule out medical issues
- Consider your approach
- Is your loved one in need of something?
- Consider immediate setting
- Is your loved one bored?
- Is your loved one isolated?
- Need for physical connection or physical contact
- Task versus ability
Overview of Dementia
Before diving into the key tactics designed to aid in dementia behavior problem-solving, we provide an overview of this condition as a starting point. Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in mental ability. It is not a specific disease but a group of symptoms that several different diseases or conditions can cause. Dementia affects people’s memory, thinking, behavior, and ability to perform everyday activities.
There are many different types of dementia, but the most common are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia. Each type of dementia can cause different symptoms.
Dementia can be difficult to diagnose because the early symptoms can be very mild and may not be noticed until they start to cause problems with everyday activities. The only way to know for sure if someone has dementia is to have them see a doctor.
There is no cure for dementia, but treatments available can help delay the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life for those affected.
Rule Out Medical Issues
One of the biggest challenges for people with dementia is dealing with changes in behavior. This can include becoming agitated, restless, or aggressive. It’s important to rule out any other medical conditions causing these symptoms. For example, thyroid problems can cause changes in mood and behavior, as can infections or certain medications.
You will want to schedule an appointment with your loved one’s primary care physician. You should also remember that because this behavior might be associated with a dental or eye issue, an appointment with a dentist or ophthalmologist may also be in order.
Consider Your Approach
Learning to assist a loved one with dementia can be a challenging task. One reason why an individual with a dementia diagnosis might be exhibiting behavior problems is because of how you (or someone else) are approaching or attempting to communicate with that individual. You might consider seeking professional support and guidance regarding how to best approach and communicate with a loved one diagnosed with dementia.
Is Your Loved One in Need of Something?
One of the most common problems associated with dementia is disruptive behavior that may arise from a loved one with this condition wanting or needing something. This type of situation can arise because of a need on the part of a person with dementia that is not being met or frustration with not being able to do things they used to be able to do.
A few things can help minimize disruptive behavior in people with dementia. First, make sure they are comfortable and have everything they need. This includes food, water, clothing, and necessary medications or treatments. If there is anything they are particularly fond of, try to make sure they have that too.
Dementia can cause a lot of frustration for the person with the condition and those around them. It’s important to remember that the person is not doing these things on purpose and that compassion and patience can go a long way in helping everyone manage this challenge.
Consider Immediate Setting
If you have a loved one with dementia, creating the right setting for them is key to their comfort and happiness. Dementia can cause a person to become confused and anxious, so it’s important to make their surroundings as calm and familiar as possible. Here are some tips for creating a soothing environment for your loved one:
- Keep their surroundings tidy and organized. A cluttered environment can be overwhelming and confusing for someone with dementia.
- Try to stick to a routine as much as possible. Consistent routines can help reduce anxiety and confusion.
- Make sure there are plenty of familiar objects around them, such as photos, books, and mementos from past trips or celebrations. These objects can provide a sense of familiarity and comfort.
- Eliminate noise and distractions as much as possible. Loud noises or sudden changes in noise level can be unsettling for someone with dementia.
- Keep the temperature consistent and comfortable. Extreme temperatures can be uncomfortable and distressing for someone with dementia.
Is Your Loved One Bored?
As discussed throughout this article, when a person is diagnosed with dementia, it can be difficult for them and their loved ones to cope with the changes in behavior. Dementia can lead to boredom and frustration, which can often manifest in disruptive or destructive behavior.
There are a few things that can be done to help minimize these issues. Try to keep the person’s environment as stimulating as possible. This may mean changing their routine or providing new and interesting activities to keep them engaged.
With patience and care, it is possible to manage the behavioral issues associated with dementia. By providing a stimulating environment and addressing any problems head-on, you can help make life easier for the person with dementia and their loved ones.
Is Your Loved One Isolated?
If a loved one with dementia is engaging in problematic behavior, consider if that person is isolated from others or depressed due to unfulfilled social needs. Isolation can negatively impact a person with dementia.
Need for Physical Connection or Physical Contact
People with dementia often experience feelings of isolation and loneliness. Physical contact can help to combat these feelings and provide a sense of connection and warmth. Human touch can also be calming and reassuring, benefiting those with dementia.
It is important to note that not all people with dementia will want or need physical contact. Some may find it overwhelming or uncomfortable. Pay attention to the person’s body language and cues to determine whether they would like to be touched.
When providing care for someone with dementia, it is important to remember the importance of physical contact. Touching them gently and regularly can help to make them feel more connected and loved.
Task Versus Ability
Dementia ability levels can vary greatly from person to person. Some may only have mild memory problems, while others may have more significant impairments that affect their daily functioning. It’s important to remember that everyone with dementia is unique and will require different levels of support depending on their abilities.
When working with someone who has dementia, it’s important to always take into account their ability level. For example, if you ask them to do a task beyond their ability, they may become frustrated or stressed. On the other hand, if you ask them to do something too easy for them, they may not feel challenged or motivated.
It’s important to find a balance between tasks that are too easy or too difficult and to constantly reassess a person’s ability as it changes over time. This will help ensure they can live as independently as possible and remain engaged in meaningful activities.
In conclusion, if you are having difficulty managing your loved one’s dementia behavior, talk to their doctor. There may be medications or therapies that can help make them more comfortable and easier to manage. You can also find support and advice from organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association.