Caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s poses many challenges for families and caregivers. People with dementia have a progressive biological brain disorder that makes it more and more difficult for them to remember things, communicate with others, think clearly, and take care of themselves.
Also, caregiving has become all-consuming. As a person’s physical, cognitive, and functional abilities gradually diminish over time, it’s easy to become disheartened, overwhelmed, and neglect own health and well-being.
Seeking help and support along the way is necessary. This article provides some solutions for dealing with difficulties that arise when caring for a person with dementia.
1. Agitation Management
Agitation includes a range of behaviors, like sleeplessness, irritability, or verbal or physical aggression. Often these kinds of behavior difficulties progress with the stages of dementia, from mild to more severe. Agitation may be triggered by a variety of things, including fear, and fatigue. Some points to keep in mind are:
- Keep dangerous items out of reach.
- Maintain structure by balancing the same routine. Keep household objects and furniture in the same places. Familiar photographs and objects offer a sense of security and can lead to pleasant memories.
- Try soothing music, gentle touch, walks to decrease agitation. Speak in a reassuring voice. Do not try to restrain the person during a period of agitation.
- Reduce noise and clutter, and make sure that not too many people are in the room.
- Acknowledge the person’s anger over the loss of control in his life. Tell him you understand this confusion.
2. Handling Repetitive Behavior
People with dementia often repeat a statement, word, or activity over and over. While this kind of behavior is usually harmless for the person with dementia, it can be stressful for caregivers. Sometimes the behavior is triggered by boredom, anxiety, fear, or environmental factors. Some points to keep in mind:
- Distract them with an activity or snack. Enable him to forget the troubling incident. Confronting may increase anxiety.
- Offer plenty of comfort and reassurance.
- Help the person to do as much for himself as possible – support his independence and ability to care for himself.
3. Managing habit of Hoarding
People with dementia tend to experience an increased desire to collect things, even broken, used, or worthless items. This behavior is sometimes referred to as hoarding. This psychological disorder is mostly seen in individuals with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. These behaviors may manifest due to anger, insecurity, and confusion, increasing as the brain function decreases. A hoard of items piled on the floor can cause falls. Thus, making supervision important. Keep the following in mind:
- Keep a track of the hiding places. These might include closets, drawers, or pockets. Conduct a sweep of such places routinely.
- Keep them busy with interesting, intensive, and stimulating activities.
4. Control over Wandering Habit
People with dementia tend to walk aimlessly for various reasons, such as medication side effects, boredom, or to look for someone or something. Discovering the triggers for wandering is not easy, but they can offer insights into dealing with the behavior. You can consider the following:
- Make time for daily exercise to lessen restlessness.
- Use barriers like curtains to mask the door. A stop or do not enter sign may help.
- Inform neighbors about the person’s wandering behavior and make sure they have your phone number.
5. Sleeplessness Management
Disorientation, anxiety, and other troubling behavior in people with dementia often get worse at the end of the day and sometimes continue throughout the night. This is also known as sundowning. Some tips that can be used by caregivers are:
- Watch out for dietary culprits, such as caffeine, sugar, and some kinds of junk food. Cut these kinds of foods and beverages too early in the day. Plan smaller meals throughout the day to make it easy.
- Increase daytime activities, especially physical exercise.
- Make sure the house is secure: lock the kitchen door, block off stairs with gates, and put away dangerous items.
6. Hallucination Management
In Dementia, the brain’s slow decline is the root of hallucinations and associated behavior. Remember, what the person is experiencing is very real to them. Try to:
- Take time to explain to the family and everyone around that this is part of the illness
- Remove all tripping hazards
- Use nonverbal reassurances like a gentle hug or touch.
At GMG Home Healthcare, we understand the stress and hard work that caregivers or families face when it comes to searching for facilities to provide quality care for their loved ones. Hiring a caregiver to assist with day-to-day care can offer much-needed respite and peace of mind, and help the person affected by the disease to live the rest of their lives with purpose.
Our services can help you and your loved one with individualized dementia care plans for regular care. Contact GMG home healthcare today.