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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Lehr-Splawinski, Marketing Communications

How to cope with Dementia/Alzheimer's behaviours

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Anyone who has been confronted with Dementia/Alzheimer's disease encounters a lot of emotions and uncertainty on how to cope with its behaviour in the best and correct way.

One can only offer support, love, understanding, strength, patience, hope and acceptance that will help the dementia patient and provide peace of mind. Simply being there goes a long way. Ensure you are willing be open-minded and flexible to want to learn more about this devastating disease which will greatly support you in the coping mechanism.

Start with gaining a better understanding of the disease

The term Dementia defines the loss of a person's cognitive functioning which includes the scope of thinking, remembering, and reasoning. Dementia usually begins at a mild stage and slowly starts affecting a person's overall functioning. Once it progresses to the most severe stage, the person becomes fully dependable on others to function with the tasks and activities of daily living (ADLs). Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia.

Dementia causes a devastating decline in a person's quality of life. Some dementia patients also lose control of their emotions which results in severe personality change, displaying agitation, confusion, anger and sometimes aggressive & violent behaviour. It is crucial to understand that Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It is caused by brain changes and is more common in seniors over 85.

Certain approaches can help manage to reduce symptoms to help Dementia patients maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible. It's important to stay hopeful that there will be a cure in future.

Acknowledge and accept how Dementia affects a person’s abilities

When a person's overall capacity to function mentally, emotionally & physically is affected, the person starts losing independence which affects self-worth and causes (and or contributes to) depression.

To be able to help a person living with Dementia, you need to learn how to adapt your communication & behaviour skills. At the beginning of each conversation, take a few moments to assess how the person is feeling and acting that specific day. At all times, be aware of your tone and body language and remain calm.

Observe and note any changes in behaviour and body language and adjust to accommodate the person. If you struggle to understand and need help, get it. Start with conversing with the person's healthcare provider and reach out to your local Alzheimer's society.

Helpful conversation tips:

  • Remind yourself to stay calm, focused, positive and encouraging to give a good example when spending time with a person living with Dementia.

  • Ensure to keep eye contact to help the person focus. Avoid approaching the person without direct eye contact such as from behind their back.

Use your personal knowledge about the person affected by Dementia to suggest conversation topics or activities they might enjoy. Engage their skills & abilities in the conversation. Avoid mentioning what the person is not able to do as it will have a negative impact.

  • Speak clearly, using short and simple sentences.

  • Using your hands will help to give your words a stronger meaning. Allow the Dementia patient time to respond to avoid the person feeling rushed.

  • Provide easy options & solutions and don't complicate things.

  • Never correct the person! Ensure to ignore any false statements the person might say and don't correct any actions they might take. If the person displays aggressive behaviour, call a Professional for help.

  • If you become overwhelmed, take a break to gather your focus and thoughts to be able to support the person in a postive & calming way.

  • Keep track of any hearing or vision challenges and declines the person may display. Keep monitoring the behaviour which will help support the care process.

  • Ensure not to agitate the person with sensitive comments.

  • When you notice your loved one is unable to communicate verbally, communicate through the senses, like a gentle touch on their hand or shoulder.

  • Reduce any distractions in the conversation like the sound of loud tv or music in the background.

  • Get support for yourself to ensure you take care of yourself to be able to cope well

It is very challenging to support a Dementia/Alzheimers patient without forgetting to take care of yourself as it can be very time-consuming and cause a lot of emotions, some of which can be negatively caused by stress.

Ensure to organize qualified & reliable respite care for your loved one by an experienced private home health care provider trusted in Dementia care. Professional Dementia care offers many beneficial factors for the Dementia patient and the family. Family caregivers often not only burn out but become overwhelmed as Dementia/Alzheimer's care requires very specific care skills including regular cognitive engagement.

It's crucial to find a healthy balance to avoid burnout which will affect the person living with Dementia you take care of. Join a Dementia/Alzheimer's support group and keep in touch with the patient's healthcare providers.

For beneficial information on all types of dementia, symptoms, learning opportunities and important confidential support, contact your local Alzheimer's Society.

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