A Quick Guide To Understanding Dementia Behaviors

Although 55 million people around the world suffer from dementia, there is no treatment for this condition. The medical community has yet to understand the causes behind it.

Treatment is limited, but there are plenty of options for support. In addition to early diagnosis and optimizing wellness, it’s important to prepare yourself for the dementia behaviors that will come.

To learn more about these behaviors, read through the guide below.

What Is Dementia?

Gone are the days of referring to cognitive decline as senile dementia. The medical community now understands dementia is not a regular part of the aging process but is a rapid decline in cognitive ability. Dementia is a collective term that refers to any disease that impairs socialization, memory, focus, or thinking abilities.

Some diseases that cause dementia are:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Vascular dementia
  • Mixed dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia

In fact, the term dementia itself may soon be on its way out. It’s not uncommon to hear doctors today call it a neurocognitive disorder.

Dementia Behaviors

Coping with behavioral changes in loved ones with dementia is one of the most difficult parts of this disorder. These changes often get progressively worse over time, so it’s important to do research and prepare yourself in advance.

These behaviors may include:

  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Sexual inappropriateness
  • Wandering off and getting lost

These behaviors will challenge and worry family caregivers. Now that you know what to expect, it’s time to learn how to cope with it.

Coping With Behaviors

People with dementia can exhibit upsetting and frustrating behaviors. It’s essential for caregivers to exercise their patience and love when faced with these challenging behaviors.

To prevent wandering, make sure that all windows and doors are secured at all times. Use technology, like alarms, surveillance systems, and tracking devices. Make sure to inform the neighborhood, including local police, that you have a loved one at home with dementia and provide them with a picture.

Coping With Caregiving

Family caregivers often have their own lives to manage, as well as their loved ones with dementia. Balancing a full-time job, managing a home and children, and caring for someone with dementia is not sustainable.

Family caregivers should know when it’s time to ask for professional help. Dementia home care can be employed specifically for the hours it’s needed, saving some expense.

There are many support groups for dementia caregivers. Speak with a local hospital or doctor’s office to find one in your area.

How to Communicate

Those with dementia suffer memory loss, which inevitably leads to confusion, paranoia, and other emotional outbursts. Changes in the brain caused by dementia may even cause them to see things that aren’t really there. When confronting these behaviors, follow the 4 Rs: reassure, reorient, redirect, and reminisce.

To reassure, repeat calming phrases like, “You are OK. It is OK.” Make sure your body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions all convey kindness and patience. You can try to reorient and redirect them to their familiar surroundings by pointing to a familiar object.

The Takeaway

Dementia behaviors are difficult for all of those involved — for family caregivers, professional caregivers, and the person with dementia. It is very emotional to watch a loved one’s life slowly unravel before your eyes. Don’t forget to make time for yourself to address these difficulties with your own support system or an organized support group.

If you found this guide to dementia behaviors useful, make sure to check out our other recent posts.