Nearly everyone with dementia will develop significant behavioral problems as the condition progresses. These behaviors of dementia may cause distress for the patient and place added pressure on family caregivers.
In this article, we discuss three dementia behaviors of concern—restlessness, aggression, and wandering—and how to deal with dementia in elderly parents.
3 Common Dementia Behaviors of Concern and What to Do About Them
Dementia-related behaviors can be challenging to handle as a family caregiver. You love your aging parent, but they’re starting to forget who you are, act out, and refuse your help. In this section, we discuss a few dementia behaviors of concern and what to do about them.
Dementia Restless Behavior
People with dementia tend to experience varying degrees of restlessness: pacing, fidgeting, being unable to sit still or sleep soundly at night, etc. It’s an exhausting dementia behavior for patients and caregivers, especially when it disturbs their sleep.
In some cases, restlessness may be a side effect of a dementia patient’s medications. It’s important to monitor a loved one when they’re on a new medication for any such side effects. If you suspect your loved one is taking a prescription that may be causing them to feel restless, contact their doctor.
How to Manage Restless Behavior in Dementia Patients
- Create a routine. Form a daily routine, such as taking afternoon walks, to keep dementia patients busy, using their restless energy.
- Give them something to hold. Give dementia patients something to occupy their hands if they tend to fidget, such as a worry stone or stress ball.
- Limit caffeine. Caffeine and excess sugar can disrupt sleep patterns, so remove them from dementia patients’ diets, especially around bedtime, to decrease restlessness.
Dementia Violent Behavior
Can a person with dementia get mean? In short, yes. Aggression and anger are dementia behaviors that tend to present themselves in full force during the latter stages of the illness. These outbursts may be verbal or physical, occurring without apparent reason or resulting from a frustrating situation. It can be emotionally tolling on family caregivers to be subjected to such harsh dementia behaviors, but try not to take it personally—it’s the disease talking.
How to Manage Aggressive Behavior in Dementia Patients
- Identify the cause. Try to pinpoint what happened right before the dementia violent behavior was triggered, so you can address it and avoid it happening again.
- Don’t retaliate. Do your best to respond calmly to dementia aggression. Redirect their attention towards something comforting, like an old photo or keepsake.
- Check for pain. Pain can easily trigger aggressive dementia behavior, so check in to see if they can communicate what’s wrong.
Dementia Wandering Behavior
Sixty percent of people living with dementia will wander, and everyone diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s is at risk for wandering. Those with dementia lose their ability to remember familiar people and places. As a result, wandering is a common dementia behavior that can happen at any stage of the disease. Wandering can be dangerous and even life-threatening if caregivers don’t act early.
How to Manage Wandering Behavior in Dementia Patients
- Secure all doors. Make sure all exterior doors are locked, especially at night. Install warning bells above doors or an alarm to signal when a door opens.
- Use technology. Set up surveillance systems in your loved one’s home and consider putting a tracking device on them in case they ever wander away without your attention.
- Keep them active. Engage dementia patients in memory games and activities throughout the day to keep them preoccupied.
Consider reading up on some of our additional resources related to dementia:
- How to Find Help With Dementia Care
- What Different Types of Dementia Are There in Elderly Adults?
- How to Apply for Guardianship of a Parent with Dementia
- Expert Tips on How to Care for a Parent with Dementia
- Understanding the Complications of Dementia: Why is Dementia Fatal?
- Good Dementia Activities for Seniors at Every Stage of Memory Loss
- Is Dementia or Alzheimer’s Hereditary?
How Do You Handle Someone With Dementia?
Caring for an aging loved one with dementia is a challenging task that takes a toll on your mind and body, especially if you’re a relative. You want to see your aging parents as healthy and happy, not as they are, presenting dementia behaviors of concern.
If you’re wondering, “How do you handle someone with dementia?” contact Stowell Associates. As Wisconsin’s premier geriatric care management company, we help families like yours make decisions about caring for their aging loved ones every day. Our geriatric home care specialists create personalized care plans that cater to the changing needs of your elderly parent.
We’re a team of empathetic individuals who care about you and your loved one like you’re our family. Get in touch with Stowell Associates today to learn about our elder care solutions.