How to handle different behaviors in Alzheimer’s patients
The first thing to remember, Alzheimer’s disease can become a serious problem for caregivers, especially when it comes to difficult and unpredictable behavior. Also, a disease of this kind causes a progressive cognitive decline. As a result, this decline can cause sudden behavioral changes in patients with the disease. Furthermore, severe and unpredictable behaviors can force caregivers to get outside help from home health agencies. Preparation and understanding of such behavioral changes can help the caregivers take care of the elderly in a much better way.
Common behavior patterns of Alzheimer’s patients:
Alzheimer sufferers may suddenly exhibit anger and physical aggression. This is one of the most common behaviors of such patients. Caregivers must understand that the behavior is not intentional and is happening only because of the disease.
Depression and apathy
Many times, Alzheimer patients often lose interest in life and begin feeling listless. They seem to stay depressed more often and exhibit their loss of interest through crying or staying quiet.
Insults and complaints
This is one of the most hurtful behaviors exhibited by patients suffering from Alzheimer. Many times patients are locked up in rooms, and this is done for their safety, but they don’t realize why this is being done and therefore react in a very insulting manner. They may also accuse their caretakers and also their own family members of not taking proper care of them.
This is yet another serious symptom of Alzheimer patients, due to which leaving them alone at home, can be a frightening idea. The patients often wander in search of someone, or thing they have just imagined. It may also happen that they need to use the toilet and have forgotten the path to it. Such factors often compel the patients to wander aimlessly.
Alzheimer’s disease robs one of their brain cells, which was once responsible for memory and thinking. Over a period of time, damaged brain cells cause the patients keep repeating things over and over again; it can be repetitive actions, word repetition, or even repetition of one particular activity.
How to handle aggressive behavior in Alzheimer’s patients:
Caring for the Alzheimer’s patients during such aggressive behavior becomes a challenge for the caregivers. These situations must be handled delicately with the utmost care and patience. It is important for caregivers to understand that the reason behind the aggressive nature is the disease itself. Therefore, there are two major things they need to focus on: 1) the actual cause that triggered a particular behavior and 2) the kind of emotions the patients are undergoing during the sudden aggressive behavior episode. If the caregivers can properly comprehend these two factors, then handling the situation becomes easier.
Practical tips to help caregivers handle difficult behavior:
Create a calm and soothing environment for the patients
This is because potential stressors such as loud colors, loud noises, unidentifiable noises, shadow lighting, reflecting surfaces and mirrors can trigger an aggressive behavior in Alzheimer’s patients.
Handle all kinds of situations with love and patience
If the caregivers are not at peace within themselves, there are chances that they will respond in a harsh way to the behavior of the patients. This would further aggravate the problem and make matters worse.
Stress is sometimes the major reason behind aggressive behavior
Therefore, taking necessary steps to curb stress becomes a necessary intervention. For example, a patient fond of soft music or reading before their diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, benefit from the reconnection to their old habits.
Regular exercise is another way to reduce stress levels and manage aggressive behavior.
Caregivers should ensure that their patients get at least 15 – 20 minutes of daily exercise.
During situations when the patient is aggressive, it is best not to confront them
Allow the patient to express their anger and distress alone without any interference. However, ensure that both the patient and the caregiver are safe.
Engaging the patients in meaningful activities
Encouraging them to continue maintaining social relationships can also help manage their behavior changes.
Lastly, if the caregiver is worried about the sudden change in behavior and aggressive nature of their patient, then it is best to consult a doctor. Medications are there with which the patient would gradually begin to feel better. However, along with medications, the love, care and magical touch of caregivers would also be necessary to help patients cope with the disease.