Coping with Challenging Alzheimer’s Disease Behaviors

If there’s one constant you can be sure of when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s change! Sometimes it seems that as soon as you’ve figured out how to successfully help your loved one cope with one challenge, it’s replaced with another.

Home & Hearth Caregivers cares deeply about helping those with Alzheimer’s disease, and those who care for them, to feel as safe, secure and comfortable as possible throughout the progressing stages of the disease. To that end, we offer the following tips on how to help manage some of the most difficult Alzheimer’s-related behaviors that may arise:

  • Determine the cause. Very often, what presents as a behavioral issue is instead the result of fear, frustration, discomfort or pain. Determining the core feelings behind the behavior can help in resolving them. And keep in mind, if a particular behavior is embarrassing or uncomfortable for you (such as a certain unflattering outfit she insists on wearing), but isn’t harmful to the senior or anyone else, it’s best to let it go rather than correcting or coercing the senior to conform to your ideals.
  • Look for patterns. Are the behaviors occurring in predictable settings or times of day? For instance, some seniors with Alzheimer’s disease become agitated at the end of the day, when it’s bath or shower time, or in certain environments, such as those that are overstimulating. If you notice that your loved one is too agitated in the evening to take a bath, try bathing in the morning or afternoon when she is calmer. If a crowded grocery store makes your loved one anxious, try shopping at a smaller store or at a time when the store is less crowded.
  • Remove triggers. Allow your loved one the freedom to refrain from activities and events that cause undue distress, such as large family gatherings. If a particular type of clothing results in a meltdown, such as those that may itch or feel too warm, do away with those altogether. Trying to put yourself in your loved one’s shoes can go a long way towards discovering why she’s experiencing an overload of stress, and provide clues to how to restore peace and comfort.

It’s also helpful to keep in mind that your own reactions can greatly influence how your loved one responds. A senior with Alzheimer’s disease who picks up on your agitation will become more agitated herself, and the distress becomes exacerbated. Maintaining a sense of calm and control, using a soft tone of voice and relaxed facial expressions and body language will help your loved one understand that she’s safe and secure.

We realize this is all easier said than done when in the throes of an Alzheimer’s meltdown! One of the best ways to cope is to allow others to help with care for the senior, in particular, professional caregivers who are fully trained in dementia care, such as those at Home & Hearth Caregivers.

You’re not alone! Contact us any time at 800-349-0663 for more Alzheimer’s disease resources, and to learn more about our Alzheimer’s respite care services.

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6432 Joliet Road
Countryside, IL

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