Listen To Your Senior Loved One
If your loved one is able to verbally communicate with you take some time to listen to what they are angry or frustrated about.
Here are some tips on how to actively listen:
- Pay one-on-one attention to your senior loved one
- Make eye to eye contact with him/her
- Avoid asking open-ended questions.
- Be patient and give them time to respond to you
- Do not patronize or ridicule them in any way. You may think you are making a joke but they may not be able to comprehend the nuances of your humor.
- Acknowledge what they are saying by casually rephrasing their statement and responding to it
- If they can tolerate physical touch put your hand on them which can show them that you are paying attention just to them
Make sure to listen carefully to what your loved one is saying. This will allow you to determine what their needs are. Remember that they are often confused and are having a hard time understanding words. Dont push your own agenda. Just concentrate on what THEY are saying.
If they arent able to verbally communicate and are just ranting nonsensical words or sounds then work on comforting them by any of the following techniques:
- Keep your body language calm and receptive to them by facing them, direct eye to eye contact and placing your hand on them .
- Try your best to show a pleasant and happy look on your face.
- Keep your tone positive and friendly.
- Approach your loved one from the front.
- For some seniors with dementia, personal space is an issue so respect that.
What Are Some Other Typical Dementia Behaviors
In addition to aggression, confusion, sleep problems and wandering, symptoms of dementia can also include delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, apathy and sexual inappropriateness. And, behavioral dementia symptoms tend to occur more frequently as the dementia progresses.
Up to 90% of patients have one or more of these symptoms during the course of their disease, studies show. It is important to discuss all dementia symptoms with your loved ones physician to rule out or treat any medical conditions that could be causing the behavior.
Why Not Try This
Challenging dementia behaviors can be super-stressful. This basic approach can help stretch your patience and move you both toward a more peaceful quality of life.
Best of all, you can start using the Why-This, Try-This approach right away, even if youve been responding differently before.
To make these steps simple to refer to, Ive compiled a free downloadable PDF, 7 Steps to Managing Difficult Dementia Behaviors Without Medication, A Surviving Alzheimers Cheatsheet.
Get Your Free Managing Dementia Behaviors Cheatsheet.
Questions, suggestions, or try tips that work well for you? Please post them below!
Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimers: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers . You can learn more at survivingalz.com.
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How Can You Choose Activities For People With Dementia That Are Safe
Activities are key to keeping a dementia patients hands busy to help with the fidgeting, but it isnt always easy to choose the right ones. Ideally, you should plan activities that the person with dementia enjoys in his/her daily routine.
To ensure that you only choose activities that are safe and help the person enjoy them:
- Match the activities with the persons capabilities and cognitive function
- Pick activities that are fun for all
- Watch to see whether or not the person becomes frustrated
- Determine whether the person can do the activity alone or needs help
- Avoid overstimulating the person try a new activity for only a few minutes the first time
- Focus on enjoyment as opposed to achievement
- If its more enjoyable, let the person watch
- Help the person get started
- Be careful with small items that can easily be placed in the mouth.
Planning For When Your Loved One Does Wander
In case your loved one does wander, its a good idea to have a plan in place.
- Notify neighbors and local police about your loved ones tendency to wander, and circulate your phone number.
- Have your loved one wear an ID bracelet or labels in clothing. Digital devices using GPS technology can track your loved ones location.
- In case a police search becomes necessary, have a recent photo of your loved one and some unwashed clothing to help search-and-rescue dogs.
- In the U.S., sign up for the Alzheimers Associations Medic Alert and Safe Return Program, an identification system to help rescue lost Alzheimers patients.
How to find a missing Alzheimers patient
A person with dementia may not call out for help or answer your calls, even when trapped somewhere, leaving them at risk for dehydration and hypothermia.
Check dangerous areas near the home, such as bodies of water, dense foliage, tunnels, bus stops, and high balconies.
Look within a one-mile radius of where the patient was before wandering.
Look within one hundred feet of a road, as most wanderers start out on roads and remain close by. Especially look carefully into bushes and ditches, as your loved one may have fallen or become trapped.
Search in the direction of the wanderers dominant hand. People usually travel first in their dominant direction.
Investigate familiar places, such as former residences or favorite spots. Often, wandering has a particular destination.
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Preventing And Handling Anger In Alzheimers Care
The more you are able to understand your loved ones aggressive triggers, the easier it will become to avoid those triggers and prevent anger outbursts. That said, it isnt always possible to avoid certain triggers. Because of this, it is important that you know how best to handle outbursts of anger, including both verbal and physical aggression.
Here are some guidelines for managing anger outbursts in Alzheimers care recipients:
- If you can determine the cause of their distress, see if it is possible to alleviate or solve the issue. This can stop an issue from becoming worse, and often helps dispel their anger.
- Avoid physical contact and NEVER react to violence with force, unless your personal safety or the safety of someone else is threatened. Trying to take physical control of a dementia sufferer often increases their anger and aggression.
- Use a calm tone of voice and avoid outward displays of distress, upset, anger, or fear. These signs are often detected by the angry person and will likely make their own distress and agitation worse.
- If possible, remove yourself from the room or situation. Give yourself and the person time to calm down. This will make it easier for you to react and may defuse or dispel their anger.
- Be kind and reassuring at all times. Do not attempt to argue or reason with the person. Instead, be sympathetic and accepting of their anger and frustration.
Why Do Dementia Patients Fidget
If a dementia patient is anxious or stressed, you can usually see it in their hands. They are likely to pull at their clothes, wring their hands, rub their skin, or twist their fingers if they are afraid, upset, or agitated. Fidgeting and associated behaviors are how people with dementia deal with their discomfort.
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Try To Identify Possible Causes Of The Aggression
There are some basic things to rule out when patients begin to act out. Be sure basic needs are met. These include:
Pain uncontrolled pain can cause individuals to lash out. They often are not able to communicate. It is vital to look for non-verbal signs of distress, including:
- Facial grimacing.
- Guarding certain areas or withdrawing from touch.
- Writhing or constant movement.
- Increase in blood pressure or respiratory rate.
Constipation-this can make anyone uncomfortable, including dementia patients. Be sure they follow a toileting schedule and pay attention to the frequency of bowel movements.
Urinary tract infections These can be a cause of pain and discomfort and are more common in elderly patients. Monitor the patient for smelly, cloudy, or discolored urine. If these signs appear and the patient is acting differently, they should be seen by a medical professional for an evaluation.
Try to keep the patient comfortable. Maintain a reasonable room temperature and create a good place for the patient to relax.
Sleep We all can become grumpy if we dont get enough sleep.Follow the basic sleep hygiene guidelines listed below.
- Follow a sleep schedule. Try to get the patient to sleep at the same time each night.
- Avoid letting the patient take long naps during the day.
- Do not give the patient large amounts of fluid close to bedtime. This can increase nighttime awakening.
- Be sure the room where the patient sleeps is dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable.
Helpful Tips For Caregivers
To decrease agitation and aggression with dementia, caregivers can help their loved ones in the following ways:
- Find a multidisciplinary team of specialists. This may include a psychiatrist to carefully consider the risks and benefits of medications for managing behavior, a geriatrician to optimize your loved ones medical situations, and an occupational therapist to consider modifications of a persons living environment and daily routine.
- Go for a walk or on an outing for a change of scenery. Physical activity has additional benefits on mood, memory, and lowering anxiety.
- Add massage and touch therapy, or just provide a calming hand massage.
- Incorporate music into your loved ones daily routine.
- Notice the first signs of agitation. Nondrug options work best the earlier they are used.
- Get creative: discover what works and try using different senses. Aromatherapy, an activity such as folding laundry, brushing hair, or dancing can all be calming.
- Consult with your physicians. Medications are often prescribed as first-line interventions despite what we know about the effectiveness of nondrug options.
- Educate all the people caring for your loved one on the interventions that work best, and check in with them about how these approaches are working.
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Seizures & Mood Stabilizers
Common Drugs Taken:
- Valproic acid
- Uses: May be used to treating aggression. Has a sedative effect on agitated physical and verbal behaviors.
- Risks and Side Effects: Confusion or worsened thinking, dizziness, difficulty walking or balancing, tremor and the development of other Parkinsonism symptoms, and gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
- Non-Drug Treatments: Identifying underlying causes, promoting physical and emotional comfort, and changing the environment.
Whats The Best Way To Manage Agitation Related To Dementia
- By Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH, Contributor
You notice your loved one becoming more forgetful. She cannot recall her visit with her granddaughters yesterday. She claims she took her medications this morning, yet you find them untouched in her pill case. You wonder how this mild-mannered woman has become so angry, so quickly. She is often frightened now, disoriented, and unpredictable. Yet she still remembers every detail of your wedding day, the names of your four children, and how to play her favorite piano pieces. When you sing together, time temporarily stands still.
Your loved one received a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease. Nights are the hardest time for her. You worry about her safety when she wanders through the house. She almost broke the door last week you can tell her arm still hurts when you bathe her. She resists and yells at you when you take her to the bathroom. She has started to show behavioral symptoms of dementia.
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Whats The Best Cbd Oil Dosage For Dementia
There are no definite dosage guidelines when it comes to using CBD oil for dementia. However, various studies have been performed on the efficacy of different CBD doses for Alzheimers patients.
A study conducted in 2014 found that higher concentrations of CBD may be required until the effects take hold. The study was conducted on transgenic mice.
Given the lack of regulation in the CBD marketplace, the best thing you can do is observe the effects of different dosages and report to a foundation or science institute that specializes in seeking new forms of dementia treatment. With more self-reports from patients, healthcare professionals will be able to come up with some general guidelines for people with dementia in the future.
How Do You Keep Dementia Patients At Home
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Get The Lighting Right
To aid a more restful nights sleep the bedroom should be as comfortable as possible. Using blackout curtains are a good idea during night-time to eliminate outside disturbances. Research suggests that light therapy can reduce restlessness and confusion for people with dementia. Should you wish to consider light therapy, it has been proven that violet coloured light promotes drowsiness and a full-spectrum fluorescent light used for the first two hours of the day can be settling. Light therapy that follows a regular pattern can also help with disturbed body clocks.
Safety – if night wandering is a problem, or frequent visits to the loo, you will need to consider some sort of low light to prevent your parent falling in the dark. You may want to invest in a motion sensor night light. A motion sensor light automatically turns on when motion is detected within three metres. It then turns off after 30 seconds of no activity. This means that people with dementia can use the bathroom in the night or get out of bed with less risk of falling. The light is gentle and warm in order to not interrupt sleep.
- Hard to stay awake during the day and taking frequent naps
- Sundowning, sometimes referred to as late-day confusion.
Sundowning is a dementia-related disorder where a person becomes increasingly anxious and unsettled in the late afternoons and evenings. Sundowning is more often experienced with mid-stage to advanced dementia.
What Causes Restlessness In People Living With Dementia
They may be a symptom of the physical changes in the brain caused by dementia. A person may become agitated suddenly because of a change or specific cause, such as increased noise or not being able to do something they previously could. Or they may feel a general sense of agitation but not know why.
A person may feel restless as a side-effect of certain medication . If you think this is the case, ask the persons GP to check whether their prescription could be causing them to feel restless.
There is also a medical condition called restless leg syndrome that gives people an overwhelming, irresistible urge to move their legs to stop unpleasant sensations mostly at night. This condition causes people to get up and walk about during the night. If you think the person you are supporting might have restless leg syndrome, talk to their GP.
Some people may be restless because they feel anxious. A number of things can cause anxiety. For example a person with dementia might be more aware of the changes they are experiencing or because they are unable to continue with hobbies and tasks they enjoy.
A less common reason is that they may be responding to issues with their visual perception or hallucinations and how they interpret what they see. This is a more common symptom of certain types of dementia, such as dementia with Lewy bodies.
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Sensory Toys And Activities For Seniors With Dementia
Sensory stimulation challenges the 5 senses in new ways in dementia patients and this can help spark old memories. Sensory activities and toys can help dementia patients recall positive emotions and memories.
Here are some of the sensory toys and products that dementia patients can enjoy:
- Stroking an animal
Common Changes In Behaviour
In the middle to later stages of most types of dementia, a person may start to behave differently. This can be distressing for both the person with dementia and those who care for them.
Some common changes in behaviour include:
- repeating the same question or activity over and over again
- restlessness, like pacing up and down, wandering and fidgeting
- night-time waking and sleep disturbance
- following a partner or spouse around everywhere
- loss of self-confidence, which may show as apathy or disinterest in their usual activities
If you’re caring for someone who’s showing these behaviours, it’s important to try to understand why they’re behaving like this, which is not always easy.
You may find it reassuring to remember that these behaviours may be how someone is communicating their feelings. It may help to look at different ways of communicating with someone with dementia.
Sometimes these behaviours are not a dementia symptom. They can be a result of frustration with not being understood or with their environment, which they no longer find familiar but confusing.
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They Wake Up A Lot During The Night To Use The Loo And I’m Worried They May Get Lost Or Confused Should I Wake Up Too To Help Them
It is normal that older people will need to use the loo more often during the night. This can be difficult if a person also has dementia as they might forget why they’re up, where the toilet is or that they should go back to bed. Start by looking at your parents drinking and eating habits. If they are eating and drinking large amounts in the evening this will increase the need for them to visit the toilet. Limit their intake from late afternoon and enjoy a main meal at lunch. Next make the route to and from the toilet as clear as possible by using signs and plug-in nightlights. Try using pictures if it helps. It might also help to make the lights in the bathroom motion activated for when they get there. If you are still worried or you find they still get lost, it may be that you will have to help them. A monitor or bed-exit sensor will help you to wake up when you need to.