Managing the challenging behaviors of dementia can be difficult for caregivers and family members. There are many different techniques that can help you manage these behaviors, but it’s important to know the underlying cause before implementing any changes to your caregiving routine.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a progressive brain disease that gradually destroys the person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, communicate and comprehend. Dementia typically progresses slowly but can cause loved ones to lose their personality as well as cognitive skills such as judgment and reasoning.

Symptoms of Dementia
¬ Delusions
¬ Aggression
¬ Mood swings
¬ Loss of appetite
¬ Social withdrawal
¬ Disorientation in time or place
¬ Difficulty following instructions
¬ Difficulties with communication (speaking or writing)
¬ Problems with impulse control and anger management
¬ Confusion about what they are doing or why they are doing it

Five tips for Managing the Challenging Behaviors of Dementia

1) Identify the Problem
What is causing the person’s challenging behavior? Is it a result of someone else’s attitude? Frustration? Lack of understanding about what is happening? Pain or discomfort? Hunger? Trying to determine the cause of challenging behaviors can be difficult, but it’s important to do so in order to address the problem effectively.

2) Look for Triggers
Recognizing the trigger for the behavior may prevent the behavior from reoccurring. When and where does the behavior happen? Is there a pattern? Does it seem random? For example, if your loved one is wandering around the house at night and you notice that they are doing this more frequently on nights before their doctor’s appointments or when family members have been away from home for an extended period of time.

3) Control the Environment
This means that you should try to keep your loved one calm by removing any potential sources of agitation from their surroundings. This may include loud noises, bright lights, and busy environments. Make sure that their living space is as comfortable and calming as possible, with minimal distractions. You can also try to schedule activities and outings for times of the day when they are typically more calm (such as in the morning or evening). Moving your loved one into a memory care program, such as Salize by Avanti Senior Living, can also help to control their environment, minimize distractions, and give them the environment they need to thrive.

Dementia is a progressive brain disease that gradually destroys the person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, communicate and comprehend.

4) Be Aware of How the Person is Feeling
It’s important to understand that challenging behaviors typically stem from an underlying issue. Your loved one may be feeling confused, frustrated, or anxious and acting out as a result. Try not to take it personally when they are behaving in ways you find difficult. Instead, think about how their behavior makes sense given what is going on in their mind. Although it can be difficult to understand and accept behavior that seems irrational, try your best not to react with anger or impatience. This will help keep you calm and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for everyone involved.

5) Develop a Strategy
Talk to the person with dementia, as well as their caregivers and doctors, to come up with a plan that specifically addresses the challenging behaviors. This may include strategies like verbal prompts, redirection, or simple tasks that can help to keep them occupied and calm. It can be difficult to manage the challenging behaviors of dementia, but with patience and a little creativity, it is possible to find ways to help everyone involved live more comfortably.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to managing the challenging behaviors of dementia, it is important to remember that everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for another. Dementia is not only difficult for the person who has it, but for their caregivers and loved ones as well. While there are no easy answers, following these five tips should give you a good starting point for dealing with the most common behavioral issues associated with dementia. By working together and coming up with creative ways to manage the behavior in question, everyone involved should be able to find peace of mind.