Providing elder care for an aging loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can be an extremely challenging undertaking. People with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia progressively lose their ability to process thoughts and express themselves effectively, often resulting in the exhibition of inappropriate, dangerous, frustrating and embarrassing behaviors. Not only can this make being an elderly care provider for an Alzheimer’s patient extremely overwhelming, but it can also make you feel unappreciated, disrespected and even afraid of your role as elder care provider. Understanding these erratic behaviors can help you to prepare strategies for the approach and management of these behaviors and feel greater confidence in your ability to help your aging loved one work through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease in the most positive way possible.
Erratic behaviors in Alzheimer’s disease patients can include unprovoked angry outbursts at elder care providers, aggression, wandering, obsessive hoarding behavior and inappropriate sexual expressions. For many elder care providers, the development of these behaviors becomes the most stressful and upsetting aspect of caring for an aging loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Some of the ways that an elderly care provider can manage these behaviors include:
- Start by calmly trying to convince your aging loved one to stop the behavior. This is especially important if the behavior is putting your safety or the safety of your aging loved one or another person at risk.
- Tried to determine what may be triggering the erratic behavior. Alzheimer’s patients lose the ability to express themselves effectively, and the erratic behavior may be your aging loved one’s way of telling you that he is in pain, is tired or is being bothered by a particular person or other stimulant.
- Try to show some empathy. Remember that your aging loved one is still in there somewhere, and may be fully aware of the fact that he is not able to understand what is going on and is extremely frustrated. Try to imagine what it would feel like if you were completely out of control of yourself and incapable of completing basic tasks or even communicating with people around you. You may want to lash out or behave erratically in that situation yourself.
- Reassure your aging loved one that you love him and are there to help him. Help them to understand that you want to care for him, and that everything is going to be okay.
- Redirect the erratic behavior to other things. For example, if your aging loved one insists on referring to her grandchild as her husband, which is relatively common among Alzheimer’s patients, show her pictures of her husband and encourage her to tell you stories about how they met in the life that they shared together. Even if the stories are completely made up, they will help your aging loved one connect her emotions in an appropriate way.
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