Addressing Behaviours of Dementia

Oct 1, 2017

Addressing Behaviours of Dementia

Addressing Behaviours of Dementia

Posted in : All, Dementia Care, Living with dementia on by : Pooja Jain

Dementia can cause individuals to behave in different, unpredictable and erratic ways. Some people with dementia (PwD) become anxious and aggressive, while others may become lethargic and depressive. Many repeat certain gestures or questions and some could misinterpret what they hear or say something they don’t mean.

These types of reactions can lead to misunderstandings, frustration and stress, particularly between the PwD and their caregiver. It is vital to know that the PwD is not being difficult on purpose and that the behaviour can be their way of communication. It is therefore important to monitor and track their behaviour and subsequently, understand them better. This can be done using the CogniCare app, which can help provide insights into the behaviour of a PwD.

The following four-step approach can help you identify, understand and respond to common dementia-related behaviours.

1.   Identify Behaviour

Observe the PwD and identify what type of behaviour he/she is presenting.

Behaviours of concern

  • Verbal/Physical aggression
  • Repetitive actions & questions
  • Socially Inappropriate
  • Hoarding
  • Lethargic/Drowsy/ Withdrawn
  • Resistance to personal care
  • Anxious
  • Sleeping disturbances
  • Wandering

2.   Understand the Trigger

Identifying what triggered the behavioural symptoms can often help in understanding why the behaviour is occurring and see what intervention or modification needs to be made to address that behaviour.

Possible Antecedents 

  • Unmet Needs

A PwD may not be able to communicate their needs, such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, feeling too hot or cold, the presence of too many people etc. This could result in a behavioural change.

  • Progressively lowered stress threshold

Dementia decreases a person’s ability to manage stress on a daily basis and increases the susceptibility to environmental stressors. Change in environment or accumulation of external stressors like noise, temperature and light can result in behaviours of concern.

  • Medical

Introducing a new medicine or change in dosage of current medicine can cause a change in behaviour. Some medications have side effects while others may not be received well by the individual’s body. Alternatively, the change of behaviour can be a result of discomfort from infections or other conditions that inflict pain.

  • Biomedical model

As the disease progresses, there are pathological changes in the brain. This impairs the normal brain functions and can cause behavioural symptoms. Behaviours of concern are a part of dementia.

3.   Interventions

Solutions to reducing behaviour can be categorised into three main types:

  • Non-pharmacological therapies,

Music,  Aromatherapy,  Validation,  Exercise, Spirituality, Scheduled reassurance, Bright Light, Pet therapy

  • Medicines (Based on Physician’s recommendations – be sure to understand the side effects)

Antipsychotics,  Antidepressants,  Anti-dementia,  Anticonvulsants,  Antiolytics

  • Environmental Cues

Simplifying  (de-clutter),  Label items,  Dim lighting,  Soft music,  Room temperature, Use photos

4.   Evaluate

Monitoring and evaluating the impact of the intervention is an important part of the process and the CogniCare app can help with this. Ask yourself – Did the intervention help? If yes, note it down for future reference. If no, it is worthwhile exploring other potential solutions or a combination of solutions.

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