What are Common Behavior Changes for Alzheimer’s Patients?

Posted: 11/3/2017 1:57 PM by Interim HealthCare
One of the most challenging aspects of caring for an older adult with Alzheimer’s or dementia are the behavioral changes they may experience. It’s hard to know what to expect because not every person with dementia has the same symptoms. In fact, people sometimes say the experience of being a caregiver to someone with dementia is different for everyone. One of the best ways to be prepared for difficult behavior changes is to learn about them ahead of time. Below are some of the behaviors a person with dementia may experience.

People with dementia can become agitated for a number of reasons. Often it is the result of feeling a loss of control. It can be helpful to track the senior’s activities and moods to determine what triggers anxiety. Include information about the time of day, what was going on when the person became agitated, and what responses worked best to manage the behavior. Some techniques that may help manage anxiety are:
  • Check for sources of pain or discomfort, such as hunger, thirst, or injury.
  • Keep your voice calm and reassuring while reminding the senior that you are there to help.
  • Quiet the environment by removing distractions and noise.
  • Distract them with a favorite activity. 

Repetitive Actions
A person with dementia might say or do the same thing over and over. The behavior isn’t harmful, but it can be annoying. Repetition is often triggered by boredom, anxiety, or fear. The action may be a way of seeking comfort or familiarity. To cope with the behavior:
  • Try to understand how the senior is feeling and focus on that instead of on the action.
  • If possible, look for a way to make the action into an activity.
  • Be patient.
  • Get the senior involved in doing something else. 

Being Suspicious
Suspicious or paranoid behavior can be especially difficult for caregivers because they are sometimes the target of the behavior. People with dementia may accuse loved ones of theft or other improper behavior. To deal with suspicion:
  • Remember the behavior is a symptom of the condition, so try not to be offended.
  • Don’t argue.
  • If there is one item the person always suspects has been taken, keep duplicates of the item on hand to present when the behavior occurs. 

Dealing with behavioral changes is difficult and exhausting for family members. Hiring an elder care provider to care for your aging family member can allow others to take a break from caregiving. Elder care providers can ensure the senior is safe and comfortable while you are at work, spending time with family, or running errands. Elder care providers are able to do nearly anything for your parent that you can, including cooking, cleaning, personal care, and assistance with eating.

Learn more about Alzheimer's and Dementia care.