How to Interpret and Understand Resistance and Refusal Behaviors by Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s

resistant woman to caregiverTypically, behavior is an individual’s way of interacting and communicating with the rest of the world. One of the common behavioral changes caregivers experience in their loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is his/her resistance and refusal to cooperate or comply with certain normal social activities and behaviors. Understandably, this can be very frustrating to caregivers and their families who are already under increased levels of stress from the physical and emotional demands of their caregiving activities.

Because Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are progressive, degenerative disorders that damage the brain’s nerve cells, significant behavioral changes typically occur. Over time, behavioral symptoms can include personality changes, depression, hallucinations and delusions. One of the common behavioral changes caregivers experience is their loved one’s resistance and refusal to cooperate or comply with certain normal activities and behaviors.

Start by Identifying the Source of the Problem

According to experts at leading memory care assisted living communities such as North Woods Village at Edison Lakes and the “New Directions”SM program, finding a solution to this problem begins with identifying the potential root cause or causes of the resistive or refusal behaviors. Be sure to look at your loved ones’ complete scope of experiences to discover what circumstances might be triggering his/her difficult behaviors.

For example, consider your loved one’s specific likes and preferences that may be leading to the resistance and refusal. Are they somehow being affected or interfered with? How does the activity being refused fit within the rest of a typical day? What is happening in his/her surroundings at the time of refusal or resistance? Are there particular sights, sounds, people or activities that may be causing disruption, overstimulation or agitation?

Common Reasons behind Resisting and Refusing Behaviors

Experts tell us that there is a wide variety of potential reasons as to why your loved one may be exhibiting difficult behaviors such as resistance and the refusal to comply. These include:

  • Personal health reasons
  • Caregiver attitudes and reactions toward the loved one
  • Changing perceptions of the loved one as his/her abilities decline
  • Tone of voice or specific words used
  • Physical actions or body language
  • The loved one’s personal pride
  • Time of day or timing of the activity
  • Depression
  • Changes in routine
  • Overstimulating surroundings

Tips for Managing and Coping with Your Loved One’s Resistance and Refusal

For starters, be sure to identify all of the circumstances, including your own actions and communications that might be related to your loved one’s “acting out.” When you are sure you have identified the primary causes for the problem behaviors and begin to resolve them, it is important to keep the following “best-practice” advice in mind:

  • Remember that your loved one is not being deliberately difficult. His/her actions are simply a product of his/her progressive disease.
  • Be patient and supportive; his/her sense of reality might now be different than yours.
  • Monitor your loved one’s medications for reactions and side effects.
  • Pets can provide a source of positive, non-verbal communication that can reduce agitation and its related behaviors.
  • Provide gentle reminders of the date and time.
  • When you’re stressed and tired yourself, you lose the ability to remain calm and soothing.
  • Your loved one will pick up on your feelings, which will increase his/her level of stress and the problem behavior (When this becomes a problem, periodic respite care services might be a helpful option to consider. It can benefit both of you.).

By taking a patient, analytical approach and identifying the primary “triggers” for your loved one’s challenging behaviors, you can make the appropriate changes in the environment of care in your home. This can to help to reduce the problem behaviors and improve the quality of life for your loved one and for you!

For more information on how North Woods Village can help you and your loved one cope with early state dementia, contact us today!