Like you, your loved one with Alzheimer's needs social interaction, comfort, freedom from pain, and a safe place to express emotions. These needs can be hard for your loved one to voice because of difficulties with communication and confusion. There are many ways to manage Alzheimer's and the agitation that can come with it. Here are a few:
Use challenging behaviors to understand your loved one
Try not to get upset by the behavior but look at it as a form of communication. Your loved one may not be able to explain what they want. They may not even be sure what they want but they are sure that you are in the position to help them.
If they are removing their clothing they may be afraid they will soil themselves. If they are wandering they may need more exercise. If they are screaming they may be in pain. With each behavior they are reaching for your support.
Use ABC analysis to see the situation from your loved one's perspective
ABC analysis is used to understand and cope with difficult behavior. It has three aspects:
- Antecedent: What happened just before your loved one got upset?
- Behavior: What challenging behavior is your loved one displaying?
- Consequence: What is happening because of the behavior?
After examining the situation you can see what may have caused your loved one's agitation. Because you know the person so well you can think about what has happened to them in the past and their personal habits.
Was your loved one frightened by a spider?
Did a scene on the television remind them of a traumatic memory?
Does your loved one hate the smell of bananas?
While examining the environment look at the task being done, the interactions, and communication demands. Which of these may be overwhelming your loved one?
Mentally review the typical reasons that may lead to agitation
There are many causes of agitation that are consistent across people with Alzheimer's. With some creative thinking you can prevent or minimize this behavior.
- Medical reasons (problems with hearing aids, constipation, pain, depression)
- Feeling emotionally disturbed (remembering an unpleasant event, missing someone)
- Dissatisfied/frustrated because of communication failure (unable to explain, feels insulted)
- Overwhelmed by surroundings (objects your loved one cannot recognize, unable to find the bathroom, noise)
- Doing something frustrating (activity is too complex or boring or unfamiliar)
- Responding to the expectations and responses of others (seeing frustration of others, rushed to work faster, being ignored)
You are not alone with this disease. By using these strategies and staying calm, you can enjoy more time with your loved one.
As you are learning to deal with the changes that aging can bring, be patient with yourself, patient with your loved one, seek advice and answers to questions, and remember you are not in this alone. Contact a Caring Senior Service team member today!