Updated: Feb 11, 2022
I often hear caregivers express frustration about the behaviors that their loved ones who suffer from dementia display at home. The first question that comes to my mind is, "Do you really understand dementia? " Many caregivers are usually thrown into the caregiving role without much information or resources. As a Geriatric Consultant, I feel that this is not right. The two people who suffer in this situation are the caregiver and their loved one who suffers from dementia. Dementia is a group of symptoms that signal there is a problem in the brain. Many forms of dementia exist with Alzheimer's disease being the most common form.
A majority of the time, people who suffer from dementia exhibit behaviors as a result of a need. This usually requires the caregiver to take action. In order to effectively respond to the behavior, you must know the person and go into their world. This means to know the person in their present not forgetting about the past. Whenever I do Comprehensive Assessments for people who suffer from dementia, the demographic information, employment, and past routines are important. Why do you feel that it is important? As the form of dementia progresses, the person reverts back in years. Some of the behaviors that your loved one may show could be the result of a traumatic event from the past, jobs, etc. For example, John .woke up at 4:30 am, got out of the bed and went outside. John's daughter Stacy awakened and saw her father outside. Stacy did not understand the reason why her dad was outside. John use to work the early morning shift at a factory before retiring so in his mind, it was time to leave for work.
The next time your loved one is exhibiting a certain behavior, try to determine the need. Is your loved one tired, afraid, hungry, bored, upset etc. If you want to make the situation better, determine the need and follow up with action.
(Written by Tamaria Smith-Gillespie)