When a senior develops dementia, it can create some severe changes in behavior patterns. While it is common for these changes to occur, they can place an enormous amount of stress on family members and caregivers. When dealing with a senior that was previously gentle, kind and loving…it can be quite shocking to see them behave in a manner that is aggressive or unkind.
What Causes Behavior to Change?
Dementia affects each senior differently. It often helps to understand why they are behaving a certain way and what changes are taking place in their brains.
Dementia is a direct result of the changes that take place in specific parts of the brain. Specifically, these are the parts of the brain that control a person’s mood, memory and behavior. Sometimes environmental issues can trigger behavior changes as well. Things like changes in place of living, overall status of health or a change in medication administration.
Where can you turn for help?
If you notice changes in the behavior of a loved one who is diagnosed with dementia, you should always discuss these changes with a medical professional. They will be able to accurately assess the situation, ruling out if the behavioral changes are due to physical illness or pain. The physician will also discuss any other concerns, such as an underlying mental illness. It is always better to be safe than sorry, especially when dealing with dementia.
How do you cope with these changes?
One of the most important things for family and caregivers to understand when dealing with a senior who has dementia is that they are not deliberately changing their behavior. Figuring out how to deal with them on your own terms is vital; it is often a long road of trial and error.
Two of the most classic behaviors associated with dementia are anger and aggression. Unfortunately, these negative behaviors are often directed at loved ones and caregivers, as they are the people in constant contact with the senior. Even though the anger and aggression can often take you aback, try to remember that the senior is not in control of his or her actions. According to many experts, the senior may even be quite frightened by the behavior and in need of reassurance by loved ones.
What are some coping strategies?
When dealing with a senior diagnosed with dementia, behavioral changes are often a common side effect of the disorder. For family members and caregivers who deal with these changes on a daily basis, try some of the following coping tips:
- Provide a stress-free environment
- Follow a strict daily routine with as little deviation as possible
- Make no unnecessary changes to their surroundings
- Avoid having groups of unfamiliar people in the home