HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND MANAGE DEMENTIA BEHAVIORS: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE
ALZHEIMER'S & DEMENTIA
We found a comprehensive free guide from the Lewy Body Dementia Association that explains common behavioral symptoms of dementia and shares helpful tips for reducing and managing challenging dementia behaviors.
Essential dementia care tips
Because their ability to express themselves declines, people with dementia often unintentionally use behavior as a way to communicate.
When you observe a behavior, ask yourself why they might be acting this way and if there could be a cause or trigger. That helps you find ways to reduce or manage the behavior.
It’s important to remember that you can’t use reason and logic to convince someone with dementia not to behave a certain way. Instead, find ways to decrease the intensity or frequency of the behavior.
Try these approaches:
- Try not to get angry or upset or take their behavior personally. They’re not acting this way on purpose.
- Speak calmly and softly.
- If the behavior is aggressive, back away and give them space. Then, approach calmly and don’t argue.
- Think about potential causes for the behavior. Are they tired, hungry, in pain, frustrated, lonely, or bored? Could it be a medication side effect?
- Respond to the emotion, not the behavior, and avoid using reason or logic to explain.
Validate, join, and distract
An effective method for managing a challenging behavior is to validate, join, and distract.
Validate the emotion behind their actions, join in what they’re doing, and then use distraction to redirect them to the actions you’d prefer them take.
(Get more specific tips and examples of these techniques directly from the guide itself.)
Communicating effectively with the person who has dementia
As their dementia progresses, your older adult’s ability to communicate will decline. Understanding how the disease affects them helps you communicate as effectively as possible for as long as possible.
Even when your older adult can’t respond in the way they used to, being able to communicate with them helps keep them engaged in life for as long as possible.
Get tips on how to improve communications with your older adult.
People with dementia often walk or pace aimlessly at some point during the disease. It can happen indoors or outdoors where they’re likely to get lost or injured.
This behavior could be caused by memory loss and disorientation or it could be because of curiosity, restlessness, boredom, fear, loneliness, or even a basic need like hunger or thirst.
Get tips on how to reduce or manage someone’s tendency to wander so you can to keep them safe.
Preventing or defusing aggression or catastrophic reactions
When someone with dementia gets frustrated, scared, or can’t communicate, they might become irritable or angry. That could lead to an extreme outburst.
A variety of factors could cause this, like loud noises, too many questions, feeling insecure, feeling left out, small accidents, being reprimanded, arguing, a tense or irritable caregiver, or tasks that are too difficult.
Get tips on how to prevent or reduce these emotional blow-ups.
Benefits of exercise for people with dementia
There are many well-documented benefits of exercise for people with dementia. It can also reduce challenging behaviors and make caregiving easier.
Get tips on how to help your older adult get started with exercise and incorporate it into their daily routine.
Managing sleep problems
Many people with dementia have problems with sleep. In fact, sleep problems are one reason people with dementia end up in assisted living or nursing homes.
Someone with dementia might also experience something called sundowning. It’s when the person gets increasingly agitated, confused, and restless starting in late afternoon or early evening and continuing through the night.
by By DailyCaring Editorial Team