Dementia behavior can be challenging. Because of how dementia affects the brain, the disease may cause the following changes:
1. Behavioral changes and increased confusion.
Some of the changes you may have already started to notice in your loved one with dementia are hoarding, hiding things, accusing you of things, and shadowing you. Shadowing is when your loved one follows you everywhere you go. Some caregivers refer to shadowing as being joined at the hip.
2. Difficulty reading, writing, and communicating.
Your loved one may not understand what they have read or may have difficulty finding the right words or using the correct names. They may also lose their ability to communicate or express themselves clearly.
3. Repeating the same questions over and over again.
Dementia causes short term memory loss; therefore, your loved one may ask you the same question a hundred times. For example, they just had lunch and he/she continues to ask you when it’s time for lunch. Repetitive questions are a very common symptom of dementia.
4. Inability to recognize familiar people, places, and things.
As your loved one with dementia’s brain deteriorates, their memory loss becomes more severe and familiar people, places, and things become unfamiliar. For example, they may call family members by the wrong name, or become confused about the location of their home or the passage of time. At some point, this may include not knowing who you are, which can be incredibly painful emotionally.
5. Inability to sensor or filter what your loved one is saying.
As the brain deteriorates, dementia may cause your loved one to lose their ability to filter what they are thinking. It is not uncommon for a person with dementia to blurt out what they are thinking and say things that are inappropriate, offensive, rude, or embarrassing. For example, they might make a comment about the size of a person, the color of a person’s skin, or their physical appearance, etc.
6. Lack of initiative and motivation.
Dementia robs people living with dementia of their ability to be self-starters, which means your loved one will need assistance starting projects or various tasks. For example, you may need to set up an activity such as doing a puzzle, folding napkins, and possibly participate with them initially to get them started.
7. Withdrawal from family and friends.
As the disease progresses, people with dementia tend to withdraw from family and friends. For example, they may resist leaving the house or lose interest in visiting with people. Some of the reasons this occurs are: anxiety- they become fearful about leaving their home; or as it becomes more difficult for them to process information and engage in conversation, they withdraw. As a result, people living with dementia may feel overwhelmed and overstimulated, which can result in frustration and anger.
8. Living in the past.
The part of the brain that is most affected by dementia initially is short term memory. It takes longer for long term memory to be affected. As a result, people with dementia may not remember what they ate for lunch seconds ago but will remember events from their past that occurred 20, 30, or 40 years ago. In some cases, people with dementia may relive past experiences
These eight dementia behavior changes are common. They can be dealt with best with compassion and understanding. Along with education for the caregiver. Remember that dementia behavior is caused by a brain ‘disease.’ It affects the brain, and thus behavior, in odd ways. As with any disease, the person is not intentionally making things difficult, it is the way the disease manifests. They are not doing anything on purpose. The more you know about these common behavior changes, the easier it is to deal with them.
If you need dementia caregiver support, please join my dementia support group or schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation.
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