Tips For Bathing A Person Living With Dementia Or Alzheimers
It might be difficult to understand what is going on in the mind of a person living with dementia. It may take some trial and error to figure out why they dont want to shower and how you can encourage and calm them during the procedure. The following tips addressproblems that several dementia caregivers face at some point during their journey. In addition, some of these bathing tips and approaches may assist you in completing your work.
Losing Rational Thinking Skills Means Losing The Ability To Manage Moods
Once we understand the skills lost and kept in dementia, we need to think about how those changes affect our feelings and moods. You may not have considered this before, but if you have both memory skills and rational thinking skills, you are fully equipped to escape any emotion that circumstance might bring your way.
Imagine, for example, that you and a friend have been playing phone tag for quite some time and you are finally on the phone talking, yet she seems preoccupied and uninterested in what youre saying. If youre like me, you might feel a blend of irritation and hurt. I would feel irritation because we finally have a chance to catch up yet she doesnt seem interested in talking, and hurt because shes someone I expect to care about my feelings and to want to listen to me. Now what do I do?
Now, because I dont have dementia, I have the skills needed to change my feelings before they settle into a negative mood. I have both rational thinking skills and memory skills at my disposal. I can use memory skills to remind myself that we havent talked in quite a while so I dont know whats been going on in her life. I can use rational thinking skills to consider whether she might be dealing with something far more concerning than I am. I can use both memory and rational thinking skills to put my story on hold and ask her about herself. I dont have to feel irritated or hurt because I can think about why she might be acting the way she is.
Stage : Mild Dementia
At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:
- Difficulty remembering things about ones personal history
- Difficulty recognizing faces and people
In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.
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Ways To Keep Your Loved One Calm
Once you have an idea of what might be behind the aggression, make a plan and see if it helps. If your first plan doesnât work, try another one. You might need to try several things, and no one plan is likely to always work.
If nothing seems to help, talk to a doctor or counselor for advice.
For aggression triggered by contact with you or other people:
Speak as softly and as calmly as you can, even if you feel frustrated, angry, or sad. If you need to and it’s safe, step away for a few minutes and take some deep breaths.
- Try to comfort your loved one instead of telling them they’re wrong, even if what they’re saying isnât true.
- Be as patient and as understanding as possible.
- Donât point out what they’re doing wrong — that can make things worse.
- Be clear about what you’d like them to do instead of telling them what not to do. For example, say “Let’s sit in this chair,” instead of “Stay out of the kitchen.”
For aggression that happens during things like bathing, dressing, toileting, or eating:
- Break the activity into simple steps and give one or two directions at a time.
- Go slowly and don’t rush them.
- Explain what you’re going to do before you do it, especially before you touch them.
- Give them simple choices.
For aggression triggered by their surroundings or routine:
Dont Be Afraid To Ask For Alzheimer’s Support
“Knowing how to detect, defuse, and prevent anger is one of the most important skills for Alzheimers care providers, says Larry Meigs, CEO of Visiting Angels. Its one of the skills we value most in our Alzheimers caregivers.
If you find that you need support in handling a loved ones dementia or Alzheimers care, help from an Alzheimers care provider can be invaluable. To discuss your options for professional, in-home Alzheimers care, call your local Visiting Angels office today.
If you are concerned about sudden changes in your loved ones behavior or have questions about caring for your loved one, please also contact your loved ones healthcare provider for information and support.
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Patience Love And Understanding As A Dementia Caregiver
Dementia-related illnesses bring unique end-of-life care challenges and the challenges facing a dementia caregiver only grow more difficult as the disease progresses. It is important to remember that the anger and frustration you may feel as a dementia caregiver is normal and does not make you a bad person. Taking breaks from the caregiving role is vital to your health and your ability to care for your loved one.
The path of a dementia caregiver is one of numerous challenges and obstacles, but by understanding the root of your loved ones difficult behaviors, and by keeping patience and love at the forefront of your emotional arsenal, you can provide your loved one with the care and support needed on the end-of-life journey.
Why Dementia Patients Get So Angry
Understanding what triggers anger and aggression in your loved one with dementia will help you avoid those triggers and prevent aggressive behavior. Anger prevention and coping strategies will make dementia care much easier for you and your loved one alike.
Anything from boredom to over-stimulation can trigger anger in a person with dementia. Anger in your loved one with dementia can be related to:
- physical triggers such as exhaustion, discomfort, or soreness,
- cognitive triggers such as confusion .
- emotional triggers that usually involve feelings of loneliness, sadness, over-stimulation, or monotony. Studies show that anger issues usually intensify the more severe dementia becomes.
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Hiding Hoarding And Rummaging Through Items
Your loved one, over time, may begin the practice of collecting, hiding, and hoarding items. Hiding items is normally a harmless behavior however, more advanced cases can pose serious health risks.
Common Causes of Hiding, Hoarding, and Rummaging
Hiding items can be a very confusing behavior to encounter however, the causes of this behavior are rooted in confusion and often communicate the need for security, novelty, and control.
Inability to distinguish trash from other items
As cognitive functions decline, the ability to distinguish useful items from trash becomes compromised, leading dementia suffers to believe that items of garbage are useful and valuable.
Need for security
Collecting items and storing them away indicates that your loved one feels insecure and has begun collecting these items out of fear of needing them some day or out of fear of being robbed.
Your loved one may be collecting and hiding items in an attempt to cure boredom and a general lack of stimulating activity.
Inability to recall placement of items
Your loved ones hiding of items may also be involuntary. As the ability to recall information degrades as a result of dementia, your loved one may not be able to recall where they placed keys, wallets, remote controls, or other items since they last used them.
Managing and Responding to Hiding, Hoarding, and Rummaging
Repeating The Same Question Or Activity
Repeating the same question or activity may be a result of memory loss where the person cannot remember what they’ve said or done.
It can be frustrating for the carer, but it’s important to remember that the person is not being deliberately difficult.
- be tactful and patient
- help the person find the answer themselves, for example, if they keep asking the time, buy an easy-to-read clock and keep it in a visible place
- look for any underlying theme, such as the person believing they’re lost, and offer reassurance
- offer general reassurance, for example, that they do not need to worry about that appointment as all the arrangements are in hand
- encourage someone to talk about something they like talking about, for example, a period of time or an event they enjoyed
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Unusual Changes In Behavior Can Be Symptoms Of Dementia
One of the most troublesome behavior changes that I dealt with while caring for my parents was my fathers disruptive and hurtful swearing outbursts. At first, it didnt bother me that muchI was used to my fathers lifelong use of profanity to punctuate most of his sentences. In fact, when I was a kid, I made a ton of money at Lent when hed give up swearing and have to pay me a dime for each infraction. My Mom was always shaking her finger and scolding him with, Honey, now stop that swearing!
What I was not used to, however, was my fathers use of the F word. To my knowledge, he had never used that one before, otherwise I know my mother would have slapped him silly. But as his Alzheimers progressed, hed get upset over the simplest things and I was suddenly the target of accusations laced with foul language. I had no idea how to handle these dementia-related swearing outbursts.
I have heard from many of my fellow dementia caregivers who have had similar experiences with their parents and even their spouses. I know firsthand how painful it is to have a loved one say such horrible things. Initially, I cried and pleaded with my father to stop each time he lashed out at me. Curiously enough, my demented mother still furiously shook her finger at him from her hospital bed in the family room, demanding that he clean up his language.
Coping With Agitation And Aggression In Alzheimer’s Disease
People with Alzheimers disease may become agitated or aggressive as the disease gets worse. Agitation means that a person is restless or worried. He or she doesnt seem to be able to settle down. Agitation may cause pacing, sleeplessness, or aggression, which is when a person lashes out verbally or tries to hit or hurt someone.
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Why Aggressive Behavior Happens
Aggressive behavior is almost always triggered by something. Figure out what that something is and youll both be much happier. If your loved one seems angry and is acting aggressively, check for pain first. Someone with dementia may not know how to express discomfort or pain. To identify the cause of aggression, look for these signs: Stroking or pulling on a particular part of the body. Facial contortions like clenched teeth or inverted eyebrows. Body language, like rocking or pulling away. Appetite change An existing condition like arthritis Dental problems like a toothache Nails that are too long Constipation
Is it a reaction to other people? Is something wrong in the environment? Does the aggressive behavior happen at the same time every day, or in the same place? Maybe a particular person coming to visit will cause your loved one to get upset.
Finding a pattern will help explain, and ultimately manage, your loved ones aggression. One good idea to help is keeping a caregiver diary that lists what was happening when your loved one became angry. Details like time of day, what activities were going on previously or were anticipated, and how exactly the lashing out occurred can be useful in identifying the problem. If you need to see a doctor to address behavior issues, having notes will be helpful for forming a medical opinion. Was the person tired? Uncomfortable? Embarrassed about something?
Put Safety And Comfort First
Ensure that they are comfortable and safe in the bathroom at all times. Warm up the room before bath time if it tends to be cold. Turning on the central heat for a few minutes or utilizing a tiny space heater may drastically change the temperature of a room, especially for seniors who are more susceptible to cold.
If your loved one prefers to shower, be sure to attach grab bars for added stability when entering and leaving the shower. A relaxed bathing seat and a mobile shower head are also great purchases.
Your loved one can relax for as long as they want or as little as they want on the chair. The showerhead prevents water from constantly falling on the persons head and allows a caregiver to precisely manage where and when the stream flows, reducing pain and fear.
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For All Family Members
Some of the most common feelings families and caregivers experience are guilt, grief and loss, and anger. Rest assured that you are not alone if you find yourself feeling these, too.
It is quite common to feel guiltyâguilty for the way the person with dementia was treated in the past, guilty at feeling embarrassed by their odd behaviour, guilty for lost tempers or guilty for not wanting the responsibility of caring for a person with dementia.
If the person with dementia goes into hospital or residential care you may feel guilty that you have not kept him at home for longer, even though everything that could be done has been done. It is common to feel guilty about past promises such as âIâll always look after you,â when this cannot be met.
Grief and loss
Grief is a response to loss. If someone close develops dementia, we are faced with the loss of the person we used to know and the loss of a relationship. People caring for partners may experience grief at the loss of the future that they had planned to share together.
Grief is a very individual feeling and people will feel grief differently at different times. It will not always become easier with the passing of time.
It is natural to feel frustrated and angryâangry at having to be a caregiver, angry with others who do not seem to be helping out, angry at the person with dementia for her difficult behaviours and angry at support services.
Tips For Handling A Seniors Aggression
Most importantly, try not to take the aggressive behavior personally, Hashmi says.
The classic line I always use is that this is the disease talking. It is not the person, Hashmi says. There is a lack of awareness in that moment. Its not your mom or dad or spouse saying that. Its the disease.
When you are faced with a loved ones aggression, Hashmi suggests employing these 4 Rs:
When theyre feeling calmer, Hashmi says, you can try asking yes/no questions to help determine whether an unmet need is causing the behavior. Ask: Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you in pain? Are you tired?
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Things To Do After Dealing With Aggressive Behavior In Dementia
1. Learn from what happenedAfter giving yourself a chance to calm down and de-stress from the episode of aggressive dementia behavior, take a step back to see what you can learn from the situation.
Analyzing the situation also helps you take it a little less personally and makes it easier to think about what you could do differently next time to try to avoid an aggressive reaction.
Think about possible triggers, which responses helped calm things down, and which responses seemed to make the situation worse.
It often helps to take notes on your observations to see if you can spot patterns or figure out new ways to try to prevent a similar outburst in the future or cool things down if it does happen.
2. Find sources of supportIts essential for your well-being to talk with people who understand and can help you cope with these tough situations and deal with the conflicting emotions.
Getting your feelings out is an important outlet for stress. Plus, you might get additional tips and ideas for managing aggressive dementia behavior from others who have dealt with it.
3. Consider medicationWhen non-drug techniques arent working and challenging behaviors become too much to safely handle, it might be time to work with their doctor to carefully experiment with behavioral medications.
We Make Them Angry Without Realizing It
Either dementia makes people so crazy that they feel angry and upset for no reason at all, or there is something causing people to feel angry and combative when they are experiencing dementia. During the past decade I spent a lot of time with people whore experiencing dementia, and I soon realized that the second statement is true, not the first. They were not crazy. I was the problemI was making them angry without realizing it. I had to understand what I was doing wrong and change it if I wanted them to stop being angry and mean to me.
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