Have you noticed recently how difficult it is for your parents to remember a name, a word, or an event? Or is your communication with your loved ones being disrupted because they continually ask you the same questions?
Many of us may be concerned that these signs are the first indicators of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. What if those conditions are simply being overlooked and are not being treated? What if dementia gradually steals your seniors’ independence and threatens their life?
Follow this guide to get a better understanding of dementia behavior and how to deal with it.
What Is Dementia
Dementia refers to symptoms that impact memory, thinking, and social abilities to the point where they interfere with one’s regular activities. Dementia is not a disease but a syndrome with symptoms that are associated with some brain illnesses. Many of these disorders are linked to an uncommon protein build-up in the brain. As a result, nerve cells perform less effectively and eventually perish, leading to the shrinkage of different parts of the brain.
Some common types of dementia include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)
- Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)
- Vascular dementia
- Parkinson’s Disease Dementia
- Mixed dementia
Behavior changes are likely to occur more frequently as dementia grows. Since a variety of disorders causes dementia, there is not a single cure for this syndrome. However, some prescribed medications can help soothe symptoms in the short term.
How to Cope with Dementia’s Behavior Changes
1. Memory Loss and Confusion
If your parents are in the early stages of dementia, they frequently get confused, causing the failure of memory, thinking, or judgment. In the later stages, our parents may face difficulties recognizing faces, finding the right words or names, misplacing objects, or communicating with family members.
The primary cause of memory loss and confusion is the progressive destruction of brain cells. When brain cells lose the ability to communicate normally, thinking, behaviors, and feelings will be affected.
HOW TO COPE WITH MEMORY LOSS AND CONFUSION
- Give brief explanations: Avoid overwhelming your parents with lengthy explanations or reasoning. Instead, provide short and straightforward sentences.
- Gently offer corrections: Stay calm and don’t give corrections or suggestions that sound like scolding.
- Provide instructions: You can help your beloved family member remember things by labeling drawers and cabinets, keeping objects around familiar places, or trying tools such as alarms, calendars, to-do lists, etc.
RELATED: How to Make Hard Conversations Easier with Your Aging Loved One
Aggression is a common response in people experiencing dementia. Its symptoms include shouting, screaming, verbal abuse, or physical abuse. This behavior typically takes place during the later stage of dementia, when our parents might be experiencing:
- Physical pain or unmet needs
- Emotional pain (loneliness, depression, isolation)
- Feeling embarrassed since they cannot do things independently
- Feeling unheard or threatened since they are facing illnesses
- Vision or hearing loss
HOW TO COPE WITH AGGRESSION
- Use a gentle tone: Try not to get mad. Instead, take a deep breath and stay calm when reassuring your parents. You can try saying: “I’m here for you. It’s OK. I’m here to help.”
- Calm the environment: Noisiness can trigger aggressive behavior. Thus, make sure to take care of the surrounding environment to make it as calm and peaceful as possible.
- Play music: Music has a calming effect on mental and physical health. Playing your parents’ favorite songs, singing for them, or dancing with them can help you get closer to someone you genuinely care about.
- Find support: Some people even tend to hurt themselves when they get aggressive. Therefore, If the situation is severe, call and ask someone to come over and help immediately.
3. Sleep Disorders
Sleep disturbance is a hard time for those facing dementia. Up to 25% of people with mild to moderate dementia and 50% of people with severe dementia may experience sleep disruption. As dementia advances, sleep difficulties become more common and cause confusion, aggression, or anxiety.
HOW TO COPE WITH SLEEP DISORDERS
- Diet changes: Limit caffeine, alcohol, and sugar in the diet plan. Instead, add foods that can enhance the quality of sleep.
- Build up an appropriate routine: Maintain a regular schedule for eating, waking up, and going to bed. Also, we can turn on relaxing music or try reading for our older family members before bedtime.
- Take care of the environment: Make sure to create a safe and quiet environment by removing electronics, managing the lights, and clearing off the noise.
4. Delusions and Hallucinations
Facing hallucinations or delusions, our parents may believe in unreal and nonexistent things. Those beliefs are false perceptions that can lead to positive or negative experiences, making your parents feel unsafe or threatened. As a result, it takes a lot of patience and understanding to change their beliefs.
HOW TO COPE WITH DELUSIONS AND HALLUCINATIONS
- Work with physicians: This method helps review medications and set up hearing or vision tests.
- Don’t disagree with the beliefs directly: Avoid scolding your family members when proving they hold false ideas. Instead, use a soft tone for gentle explanations.
- Use evidence: We can research and look for reliable sources to prove our points. Remember not to lose your temper and show your parents that we are trying to help, not showing off.
We’re Here to Help
More than 6 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, and this number is estimated to double by 2050.
You may not be used to thinking of your aging relative as someone experiencing dementia. If your senior family member needs diverse physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual care, our 12 Oaks managed senior living communities are here to help. The team at all 12 Oaks communities has educated professionals in this field equipped to deal with behavioral changes of dementia while still knowing how to create a cozy atmosphere. We are building communities to support your family during these hardships. Our staff is well-trained in delivering the best care both physically and mentally.
If you have questions about dementia behavior or any conditions discussed here, connect with us and learn more.
At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while still leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks community is an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.
For questions or to book a scheduled personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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