Through no fault of their own, loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease exhibit behaviors that can be very challenging and stressful for their caregivers and families. Most of these unsettling behaviors are attributable to difficulty performing tasks, loud noises, a frantic environment, unfamiliar surroundings, the inability to communicate, physical limitations and discomfort.
It is important to take appropriate steps to modify the environment in ways that can reduce these “triggers” to minimize problem behaviors and improve the quality of life for both your loved one and yourself. The following suggestions have proven useful to caregivers in creating conditions that are more conducive to dealing with the behaviors resulting from Alzheimer’s progression.
Tips for Managing Challenging Behaviors
Create a calming, tranquil environment. Try to eliminate loud noises and use soft relaxing music, ambient “white noise,” pet visits, art therapy and regular exercise such as daily walks. Be patient and try to project an air of calm.
Anger or Aggressive Behaviors
Don’t confront your loved one or try to discuss their angry behavior. Give them some time and space to “decompress” and try to distract them with a favorite topic or activity.
Wandering may result from your loved one being hungry, thirsty or in some discomfort. Boredom, anxiety or lack of exercise can also trigger wandering. Try to address the source and re-channel the wandering into a more appropriate activity.
Be as simple and concise as you can in your communication. To understand your loved one, you may have to interpret what they are attempting to express as their words may not be clear.
Hallucinations and Suspicions
Don’t argue about what is real and what is imagined. Instead, try to focus on the emotions your loved one is feeling. Offer simple explanations for accusations.
Evening Restlessness or “Sundowning”
Increase your loved one’s physical activity during the day and monitor their napping schedule. Be sure to limit their caffeine intake and keep their environment as calm and tranquil as possible in the evening.
Be aware that confusion and over-stimulation during the day can result in increased restlessness and insecurity at night.
Reduce distractions in their eating area. Also, encourage exercise to increase hunger and monitor medications as some may interfere with appetite.
By following these tips, you can help to minimize the challenging behaviors your loved one may exhibit and improve their overall well-being.
For more information on how North Woods Village can help you and your loved one cope with early state dementia, contact us today!