Coping with Behavior Changes
All her life, my mother was prim and proper. She was a true lady with reserved grace and elegance. With the progression of dementia, now she becomes agitated easily, even to the point of throwing dishes. She dislikes bathing and grooming. And, she gets confrontational when I try to help. What do I do?
As a caregiver, how do you cope with changes in behavior? This is a common question asked of our team at ActivCare. We have discovered some practical advice that can help with your daily care.
To better understand and react to behavior changes, you first want to determine if there is a physical ailment or symptom that is causing the reaction. Dementia can take away one’s ability to effectively communicate about discomfort or even pain. Constipation, UTIs and even lack of sleep can contribute to abrupt attitude alterations.
Your immediate reaction can help calm. Remember these responses:
- Acknowledge – Validate their feelings: “You seem upset.” Don’t argue or try to reason with the person.
- Reassure – Advise the person that he or she is safe and you are there to help.
- Redirect – Help them change focus.
The National Institute on Aging has prepared a wonderful guide for family caregivers to cope with various changes in their loved one: from communication to personality and behaviors to intimacy. Click on the link below to learn practical tips to cope with common behavioral changes.