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Dealing With Common Dementia Care Situations #1

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People living with dementia frequently often have problems with communication, which makes caring for them very difficult and upsetting. Their behaviour can often be hard to understand, but if they become aggressive or violent, remember that it is due to the way the disease causes changes in the brain, and they may be very confused, frightened, sad or angry. Learning effective strategies for dealing with challenging behaviour can give you the tools you need to respond effectively and calmly when some of the most common dementia care situations occur.

Aggression

This can be verbal or physical and can often be triggered by factors such as unfamiliarity with the environment, physical discomfort or poor communication. The person may refuse to eat, to get dressed or to go somewhere you want to take them. Try to identify the cause of the aggression, and as long as the person with dementia is not actually at risk, it is often best to simply focus on a different subject and speak to them calmly until the aggression diminishes. Insisting that they conform can cause the situation to escalate, and there is nothing to be gained by arguing the point or physically restraining them unless they are in imminent danger of injury.

Confusion

Dementia frequently causes people to become confused about place or time. They may not recognize their surroundings and frequently want to go home, even when they seem to be well settled where they live. Psychologists experienced in dementia care believe that they may be trying to return to somewhere where they had greater control in their life. It may help if you are able to show the person familiar articles or photographs in their surroundings, but often it is better to change the subject by going for a walk or getting something to eat. If they are insistent about going, you could respond by giving reasons why they cannot leave until later, such as telling them the weather is terrible or the traffic is too heavy. People can sometimes also become confused about the time and try to go out at inappropriate times such as in the middle of the night. Even when you show them that it is dark outside, they may not believe the time, so it is often best to try to distract them instead.

Poor Judgement

Dementia can cause the brain cells to deteriorate, leading to difficulties with tasks that were formerly easy. The person may have trouble with their finances or be unable to add simple figures, but it is not always easy to notice when this first occurs. They may start to hoard items, and sometimes they become delusional and believe that carers or family members are stealing from them. The first thing to do in this dementia care situation is to assess how severe the problem is. You may notice that there are unpaid bills in the house or that a bank account is not being managed well. Tactfully offer to help, but do not openly question the person’s ability or argue with them, as this can make the situation worse. Many people with dementia will become angry and defensive if they feel that you are challenging their ability.

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