Many elderly people may experience dementia or other emotionally challenging behaviors as they age. Alzheimer’s patients or those with depression also often have behaviors that make it challenging to provide care.
Sometimes he or she may speak aggressively or make combative statements. There may be confusion or frequent mood swings. His or her judgment or ability to do tasks may change.
As a family member, dealing with difficult behavior can be challenging. First, recognize that the disruptive behavior is likely not at all directed to you. Your reaction can help to de-escalate the situation.
When you encounter difficult behavior, try to determine if there’s a cause that can be addressed at that time. Is the person having a pain spike? Has something triggered the situation, perhaps a TV program, or a frustration with something in their environment?
Helping those with confusion or dementia can be difficult. If your family member asks repeated questions, answer with calm, simple explanations. Perhaps old photos or mementos would help calm the senior’s mind. Making a list of things related to a task or setting an alarm for medication reminders might help reduce their confusion.
Judgment changes as people age. He or she may think they are still a great driver, or able to do yard work. As an adult caregiver for your loved one, you probably shouldn’t say outright, “You’re not able to drive any more. I’m taking away the car keys” – but you can express your concern about their safety, and the safety of others. Some caregivers have enlisted the help of medical professionals to give credence that the senior’s eyesight, reflexes, or mobility create an unsafe situation.
Another suggestion is to use a “Please do this for me” request. For example, someone with poor balance who is dependent on a walker should not be doing yard work or trimming shrubs. As the adult caregiver, you’d worry about the elder falling. Instead of saying “Please don’t do that again, I’m afraid that you’ll be hurt”, try phrasing it as “Please do this for me: let’s hire someone to do that work. Then I know you’re safe, and you can enjoy the sunshine and supervise them!”
At FootPrints Home Care, we know that separating difficult behavior from the person is vital. If we can help your family with home care for your aging parent or loved one in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and the surrounding areas, please give us a call.