Managing the Challenging Behavior that Accompany Alzheimer’s

Challenging BehaviorManaging the behaviors that often accompany Alzheimer’s disease can be tricky even for the experts. Based on the training provided by Dr. Verna Benner Carson and Catherine Vanderhorst of C&V Senior Care, in this blog the clinical staff of Nightingale Homecare outline guidelines to help caregivers manage some of the more distressing behaviors experienced with patients who have Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. A series of critical tools developed by Carson and Vanderhorst that can be applied to nearly every behavior challenge is the use of the 4 R’s:

1. Reassess
When you are confronted with challenging behaviors, ask yourself these questions:

• Is there a reason for this behavior?
• Is the person for whom you are providing care frustrated because of his/her inability to do something?
• Is he/she uncomfortable about a situation?
• Is there too much noise?
• Is there too much activity going on around him/her?
• Or, is there too little stimulation?

Keep in mind that often just small changes in the environment can create stress for the person with Alzheimer’s. These changes, coupled with the inability to express feelings and the inability to understand others, can result in a behavioral change.

2. Rechannel
If your loved one is doing something you find annoying and/or repetitive, try to redirect him/her by providing a task; for example:

• Folding clothes
• Straightening magazines
• Organizing familiar items (buttons, nails, etc.)
• Pushing in chairs; wiping off tables

If he or she is exhibiting an annoying/repetitive behavior, get creative and discover new ways to eliminate the annoyance. For example, if your loved one likes to throw out the newspaper before you read it, simply hide today’s paper and replace it with yesterday’s paper.

3. Reassure
Try to remember, people with Alzheimer’s disease live in a world they no longer can easily understand. They might not recognize people, even close family members, and the environment may be too noisy, too busy and too hurried. Alot of reassurance is needed. When you talk to your loved one, use soothing words and a tender touch. Often, the words you speak are not understood, but the tone and care you place on the words is what they hear. Keep in mind, your loved one’s memory might be gone but he or she still has feelings and often lacks the ability to express them.

4. Reconsider
Try seeing the world from the perspective of the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Everything is a misconception and increasingly abnormal. Everyone appears to be a stranger and speaks a language the person can no longer understand.

Considering the 4 R’s before you approach a person with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia can make your interaction more successful and pleasant for everyone. You can rely on Nightingale Homecare as your expert Alzheimer’s and dementia support partner during your loved one’s diagnosis, care and progression through all stages of the disease. Our clients and families experience success in living with Alzheimer’s and dementia! Call us any time at 602-504-1555 or contact us online to learn how our specialized Connections Program services, provided by our specially trained, expert and compassionate Phoenix home care team, can maximize your senior loved one’s health, wellbeing and comfort.