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Elder Care

Promoting “Good” Days for People with Dementia

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America says that sticking to a daily routine for people with Dementia is a necessity.  It helps both the Alzheimer’s person and caregiver to get through the day easier, and it helps to maintain the abilities of the person with Alzheimer’s.  For example, involve the person in their usual habits, and do not disrupt their usual routine.  In addition to maintaining their skills and activity level, participating in daily activities can relieve tension for those dealing with dementia.

Understanding the Behavior

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease can cause unpredictable and different behaviors, such as aggression and anxiety.  These reactions can cause misunderstanding, tension, and frustration with caregivers.  The Alzheimer’s Association lists the following possible conditions as being responsible for behavior: physical discomfort, overstimulation, unfamiliar surroundings, complicated tasks, and frustrating interactions.  They recommend this three-step approach:

  1. Identify and examine the behavior, including what happened just before it occurred.
  2. Explore potential solutions, such as the needs of the person with Alzheimer’s and the possibility of adapting surroundings for their better comfort.
  3. Try different responses, if your response didn’t help the first time.

Aggression

Aggressive behaviors may be verbal, physical, or both.  They may occur suddenly without reason or as a result from a particular situation.  The best way to deal with aggressive behaviors is to identify the cause, and then make necessary changes.

The Alzheimer’s Association makes the following suggestions for how caregivers should respond to aggression in people with Alzheimer’s:  Identify the immediate cause, focus on the person’s feelings, not facts, do not get angry, limit distractions, try a relaxing activity, and shift the focus to another activity.

Confusion

People with Alzheimer’s may not recognize people or places that use to be familiar to them.  They can become confused easily, and forget what they are doing in the middle of an activity.  The best way to respond to a confused Alzheimer’s person is to stay calm, respond with brief explanations, show photos to spark memories, and try not to take their forgetfulness personally.

Suspicion

Sometimes, people with Alzheimer’s may become suspicious and paranoid of people around them, may make false accusations, and may misinterpret what they see or hear.  The best way to respond to this is do not take offense, be reassuring, don’t argue or try to convince, and offer simple answers.

Overall, the most important thing you can do for a person with Alzheimer’s disease is to be there for them and provide unconditional love.  Having a calm, stable, and predictable environment will reduce behavioral problems.  Involving them in daily activities will maintain their abilities and reduce anxiety.