Alzheimer’s disease – Understanding and Dealing with Difficult Behaviors

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. It can be difficult to diagnose the disease in its early stages, since its initial symptoms may seem as “just a sign of getting older.” However, as the disease progresses, it leads to behavior changes and the loss of the ability to think and do daily tasks.

Behaviors to Be Expected

People with Alzheimer’s often experience drastic changes in their moods from how they would behave normally.  You may see your parent or family member become withdrawn and distant.  They will often get agitated when they can’t remember something they know they should.  Other behaviors you can expect to see at some stage include:

  • Repetitive behavior
  • Wandering
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Suspicions
  • Sleep issues

Not everyone has all of the behaviors and they do not all happen at the same time.  Once they begin to exhibit some of the characteristics of the disease, it can become more difficult for the family caregivers that are caring for the senior family member.

Alzheimer patients often have trouble sleeping at night and get up and wander around.  They may become confused about where they are and what is happening.  They will sleep during the day and stay up at night; this is known as Sundowner’s Syndrome.  Some patients may even go for several days on little or no sleep as the disease advances.

How to Deal with Difficult Behaviors

As the Alzheimer’s progresses, the roles of the family caregivers change.  They become more responsible for the care of the patient as they need more help.  At some point, they may need around-the-clock homecare.  Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with the behaviors of the patient.

  • Try not to take what they say personally.
  • Speak in a calm voice and remain calm even when they are agitated.
  • Try to maintain a routine.  Changes can confuse the patient and make them upset.
  • Be reassuring.

If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s twenty-four hours a day, try to find relief help so you can take a break.  Those who are caregivers for patients with the disease wear out mentally and physically.  If the patient is experiencing the Sundowner’s Syndrome, the family caregivers will need assistance since they cannot care for them both day and night.

As the patient needs more help with daily tasks such as dressing and eating, try to encourage them to do as much as possible.  Keep the directions simple and only one step at a time; any success will help them feel a sense of accomplishment.

You will need flexibility and patience in caring for your loved one and dealing with their behaviors.  You will need to repeat things multiple times since they won’t remember.  They may ask the same questions every day or even every hour.

If the patient is experiencing behaviors of wandering, keeping them involved in activities they can still participate in can help.  This can include helping make dinner, gardening, or going for a walk.  Being active and having visitors can help lessen the depression they may feel.

You will want to limit the outside stimulation as the patient moves through the later stages of Alzheimer’s.  This can include limiting noises such as television or radio and even the number of guests that visit.  All of the stimulations can further confuse the patient and may make them more aggressive or confused.

It will be hard for them to remember people or recognize them as someone they should know and can often make them suspicious that they want to do the senior harm.  When it gets to this point, it is better to limit the people around the patient to family members and regular caregivers.

Remember to take care of yourself if you are the primary caregiver for a family member with Alzheimer’s.  You must find time to rest and get away for a break.  If you have siblings who live in the area, you can enlist their help.  Other options include volunteers from senior’s organizations, long-time friends and homecare services providers.

Consider Carefect Homecare Services for regular assistance with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s.  Our caregivers are trained to work with those with forms of Dementia and can provide non-medical care such as personal care or housekeeping.  We can help the patient get exercise and assist you by allowing you to get time away to take care of other business or to rest.  You can rest easy knowing your loved one is being cared for by our trained compassionate professionals while you are away.