Dementia symptoms can be a difficult problem to approach. Sometimes, it’s hard to know exactly what to do in situations where a patient becomes volatile, distressed, or cognitively displaced. Since dementia is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of symptoms and behaviours, there are always many perspectives to consider when assisting those that suffer from it.
Dementia symptoms with patients can be behaviorally unstable, and knowing how to work with them is crucial in their care-taking. Here are some cases that you can learn to spot and work appropriately with.
Those with dementia might suffer from lapses in short-term and long-term memory. Depending on the severity of their case, they might often forget where they are (spatially) forget where they are in time (temporally) or have smaller lapses like slight and sudden disorientation. They may begin to ask questions like “Where am I?” or “When are we going home?”
When these questions arise, try not to overload the patient with excessive information. Small and quick explanations will help ease the situation and offers much more comfort. Long explanations and attempts to make them understand may only lead to more confusion and possibly aggression.
Another recovery method is to turn the patient’s attention to something else. Offer them a relaxing activity that gets their mind off their questions. By distracting their confusion with a new activity, you can ease them into a new subject and bring them to a more positive mental state.
For those who aren’t accustomed to working with dementia symptoms and patients, aggression can be difficult to deal with. The first thing you have to understand is that the patient is not behaving aggressively on purpose. Aggression from dementia is often uncontrollable and comes from many places, including forgetfulness, disorientation, overwhelming stimuli, and physical pain. It can start up very suddenly and seemingly without reason. Though aggression can sometimes come from a lack of proper communication, in many cases you’re not to blame – and neither is the patient.
When approaching aggressive situations, communication and observation are key. Becoming upset or reacting with more aggression (especially restraining them) can make things much worse. As soon as aggressive behaviour begins, watch and listen carefully for anything that might have instigated their reaction. If it’s physical pain, try your best to accommodate them. If it’s coming from their environment, attempt to relocate them or quiet-loud noises. In speaking to them during these episodes, it’s crucial that you do so in a soft and calming tone as to not upset them more.
In any situation with a dementia patient, remember that they’re not at fault. Listen to them and be a careful observer and the proper reaction will often make itself clear. Remember to never get upset over it and always act as the anchor. Remaining calm will make the situation easier to handle and prevent things from getting worse.
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