Dementia is a commonly misunderstood disease that impacts millions of people every year. The numerous misconceptions about dementia contribute to the widespread notion that dementia is a confusing illness to learn about and understand.
Dementia is not an illness in and of itself. Rather, dementia is a broad term used to describe a spectrum of symptoms related to the decline of cognition, memory, and thinking skills. The deteriorating effects often impact the ability for individuals to perform basic tasks and engage in everyday activities.
Common types of dementia include, but aren’t limited to, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. While the forms of dementia may vary greatly, the common denominator that collectively links these forms is the sharp decline in cognitive functionality. Individuals suffering from dementia experience an array of debilitating symptoms where there is a decline in intellect, rational thought, normal emotional reactivity, social skills, and memory.
The multitude of symptoms experienced by individuals afflicted with dementia often makes them powerless in terms of living healthy, normal lives. Unable to act or react appropriately to people, places, and a wide variety of things, dementia sufferers often feel lost and alone. Understanding the symptoms and experiences of those who carry the burden of dementia will help you to better assist these individuals.
Read on below to learn about how you can help those struggling with dementia, as well as the dos and don’ts of dealing with dementia-related behavior and its many associated challenges.
Aggressive, oppositional, and violent behaviors
Aggressive, oppositional, and violent behaviors are among the most difficult behaviors to deal with when it comes to caring for those with dementia. Dementia in the mid-to-late stages can often present behavioral problems that can prove to be difficult and frustrating. It is important to know this sort of behavior is actually an agitated response from the individual to the feelings of sadness, anger, confusion, and paranoia
Aggression is trigger-based. Often, those suffering from dementia will be triggered by feelings of physical and emotional discomfort. The feelings of discomfort can arise with the presence of unfamiliar situations and being forced to do things that the person does not want to do (ex. take a shower). It is important to remember that aggression is born from fear and as a response to feeling frightened, people with dementia will often exhibit aggressive behavior on a verbal and physical level.
Do: Identify the causes behind aggressive behavior and shift the focus in a calm, respectful, and caring manner.
Don’t: Don’t force the issue that is provoking the aggressive behavior from the person with dementia. Using force will only serve to worsen the situation by escalating the level of fear that the person feels.
Aside from dealing with the critical issue of violent behavior from those suffering from dementia, there are strategies that you can implement to make life far easier for both yourself and for the person you are taking care of.
Listed below are some easy things you can do today to help facilitate your dementia caretaking experience:
- Do: Use redirection as a means to calm and soothe. People suffering from dementia often become unpredictable, anxious and upset. Using redirection as a way to calm and sooth the person will make both of your lives easier by providing a much more manageable experience.
- Do: Brighten a dementia sufferer’s day by encouraging the recall of happy memories and engaging in activities that are familiar to the person.
- Do: Pay attention to the memories, activities, and strategies that prove to be effective with the person suffering from dementia. When you discover a concept that works to make the caretaking experience more manageable for you both, take note of it and use the strategy for future implementation.
While there are plenty of things you can do to make the experience of caring for someone with dementia significantly easier, there are also a few things you should not do.
Listed below are some critical things you can avoid during your caretaking experience:
- Don’t: Do not take things personally. A person with dementia will almost inevitably say hurtful things, engage in harmful and violent behavior, and act in ways that make little sense to the people around them. Remain aware of dementia’s nature and don’t take the words and actions of a dementia sufferer to heart.
- Don’t: It is futile and fruitless to escalate arguments. Don’t engage in an argument with a person suffering from dementia. Doing so will only serve to escalate the situation and increase levels of tension and anxiety within the person with dementia. Remember that dementia sufferers are often not operating on logic and rationale.
- Don’t: Don’t try to use the concept of logic with a person who has dementia. With dementia, a person’s brain begins to operate on a different plane. Feelings are paramount to dementia sufferers; they want to feel content and comfortable within their surroundings. Remember that before trying to employ logic in what will inevitably be a losing argument with the person suffering from dementia.
Caring for someone with dementia can be a daunting task that is both exhausting and confusing. Knowing the right strategies to use and the critical things you should avoid can serve to make your caretaking experience significantly easier. Using a calm and relaxed approach with the strategies above will serve to help you take the best care possible of a person with dementia.
Visit skylarkseniorcare.com today for more information, tips, and advice about dementia day care. We are also available via phone at 404-975-2848 and through email via our website’s contact form.