How Will Someone with Dementia Change?
In the mid to late stages of Dementia, a person’s behaviour and needs may change considerably. This can be distressing both for them and their loved ones, but knowing what to expect can help you prepare you for this moment.
All behaviour is a reaction to something, so try to view any changes in behaviour as a response to a need, rather than being completely random. You may notice the following in your loved one:
- Lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Withdrawal from the world around them
- Social anxiety
- Screaming and shouting
- Repetitive behaviour, or saying the same thing over and over
- Losing or hoarding objects
- Loss of inhibitions
There are a number of explanations for these behaviours. An individual who struggles to recognise familiar people and places may feel withdrawn from their society, or become anxious and worried they are in the wrong place. They may become increasingly nervous about trying new things or leaving the home, as they know they may feel disoriented in a new space.
If they are in pain, they may become restless or frustrated as a result. Shouting or wandering about can also be a response to a basic need, such as wanting to use the toilet or being thirsty. Monitoring when different behaviours occur, and keeping track of possible triggers, can help you get a sense of how best to help your loved one.
What You Can Do
In the instance of a recurring behaviour change, it’s important to rule out underlying health conditions that may be part of the cause, so schedule an appointment with your GP.
As carer, you can build your loved one’s self-esteem and feelings of security by planning a structured day with stimulating activities, including something to occupy their mind and physical exercise.
Making sure your loved one is comfortable can help prevent unexpected behaviour. Try to reduce background noise and clutter than may be confusing, and ensure they have a comfortable, familiar place to sit and sleep.
A sudden outburst in behaviour is a result of genuine pain or distress, so needs to be treated as such. Try asking your loved one how you can help them in a calm, low, voice. Being there to reassure them may be enough to soothe them. It can help to hold their hand or place a hand on their arm to act as a calming presence.
Sometimes, giving yourself space and stepping away from the problem is all that can be done. Giving you and your loved one a breather, and coming back to activities later on, can be enough to reset the behaviour.
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