afflicted with Alzheimer's disease find it increasingly difficult to
deal with constant changes brought about by every stage of the disease.
One of the most alarming changes that occurs in many Alzheimer's
patients are mood and behavior swings that cause a great deal of alarm
and concern in family members involved in the care giving process.
many caregivers, sudden changes in mood and behavior are startling and
disturbing. For example, a daughter who heretofore has dealt with the
parent who has a history of gentle behavior, excellent etiquette and
intellectual speaking patterns may be horrified to find her father
issuing expletives or making rude and hurtful comments on a daily basis
Other caregivers may deal with
increasing situations in which arguments over everything cause tension
and stress in family members as well as increasing agitation in a loved
one. By improving our understanding of what may cause such mood swings
and behavior problems, family members and caregivers can learn how to
not only tolerate some of these behaviors, but also head them off
before they occur.
Complicating medical problems
as well as drug reactions may often cause changes in behavior and
moods. In such situations, it is important for the caregiver to remain
calm and not to provoke situations that may lead to outbursts or
incidents. Issues such as fatigue, dehydration, and even constipation
may initiate such mood changes in many patients, so watching for
physical signs is as important as recognizing emotional ones.
of the most common factors in such incidents of agitation and difficult
behaviors expressed by Alzheimer's patients is when instructions are
not clear. For many elders suffering from dementia or varying stages of
Alzheimer's, following multiple directions or requests at one time may
prove overwhelming. Seemingly difficult tasks compounded with any other
type of health problems often leads to communication breakdown between
caregiver and patient.
What may not seem
difficult for a caregiver may seem an insurmountable obstacle to
someone suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Something as simple as
getting dressed may cause agitation, confusion, and emotional
outbursts. To limit such incidents, it is often necessary for a
caregiver to limit choices and to reduce stimulating factors such as a
full closet or overflowing drawers to a minimum of necessities and
Instructions need to be broken down
into manageable steps. Saying, "Why don't you get dressed?" to someone
with Alzheimer's can lead to frustration, belligerence, and downright
refusal to do so. Placing one item at a time within reach of a loved
one will help to alleviate the pressure of such a complicated process
and relieve the stress of making such decisions.
is up to the caregiver to avoid arguments. In many cases, rephrasing a
request or giving your loved one a moment or two to process the request
or direction is extremely helpful. The Alzheimer's Association
suggests a three-step process to manage difficult behaviors
Identify the behavior
Understand the cause
dealing with a difficult situation, a caregiver may try to defuse the
situation by turning on the television or the radio. Because many
Alzheimer's patients who are agitated do not like to be touched, it is
suggested that a caregiver try talking to them in a calm and soothing
tone of voice. Never raise your voice, as this will only increase
tension and agitation.
Some caregivers find that
taking care of someone with Alzheimer's is much like taking care of
young children, and the same types of parenting skills that got them
through child rearing can be applied to parents suffering from
Alzheimer's. Many people who have cared for parents with Alzheimer's
agree that trying to argue or disagree with the delusional parent is
often a fruitless and frustrating endeavor.
order to avoid battles, it is important for a caregiver to remember to
focus on the person, and not on the specific request or task on hand.
For example, if getting a parent to bathe is your goal, and you see
that they are not in the mood and are going to refuse, it is best not
to waste your time arguing, but to wait for another point in time to
suggest that bath. As long as the person is not in any danger, make it
a point to avoid arguments whenever possible.
it is certainly never easy for children to watch a steady decline in
the cognitive abilities of the parent, it is essential to remember that
most mood swings and behavioral changes are not the fault of the person
suffering from Alzheimer's disease, but the fault of the disease
process. Patience, compassion, and understanding go a long way toward
providing the care and love that your parent deserves.
bottom line toward dealing with behaviors such as confusion, repetition
of actions or speech, as well as the wary suspicion that is often
expressed by Alzheimer's patients is to:
reactions such as frustration, tension, and hurt feelings helps a
caregiver to focus and maintain on what they are trying to provide for
someone with Alzheimer's disease, wh