Dementia can affect a loved one’s personality in a number of different ways. While some people may seem more childlike, others may become more aggressive or even begin to display inappropriate behaviour. If you care for someone with dementia, learning how to cope with this difficult behaviour is incredibly important.
To help you meet the challenges of life with the condition, we’ve put together a quick guide to dealing with inappropriate behaviour in people with dementia.
Understanding inappropriate behaviour in someone with dementia
Inappropriate behaviour in dementia sufferers is caused by damage to the brain. When dealing with this type of behaviour, it’s important to bear in mind that it’s not your loved one talking but a symptom of their disease. Although their behaviour may be distressing, it’s essential to remember that their brain has been damaged by their condition and it’s this that’s causing their inappropriate words and actions.
It’s incredibly important to stay calm when dealing with inappropriate behaviour in dementia patients. Getting worked up won’t help the situation at all, so however difficult it is, take a deep breath, stay calm and be patient.
Make it clear the behaviour is inappropriate
Gently but firmly tell your loved one that their behaviour is inappropriate. It’s a good idea to match your words with body language as people with dementia are often better at picking up visual cues than verbal ones.
Keep your behaviour consistent
When dealing with inappropriate behaviour in dementia sufferers, try to keep your responses, and your boundaries, consistent. If you allow the behaviour at one time but not another, it can send mixed signals and this can make the situation worse, especially in the long term.
Often, the best way to stop inappropriate behaviour is to distract the dementia sufferer by changing the subject or the activity. Try turning on the TV, playing some music or going for a walk. Redirecting their energy into a positive activity should help to diffuse the situation and put a stop to their inappropriate behaviour
A lot of the time, inappropriate behaviour is triggered by a specific place, person or situation. For example, a number of people with dementia will touch themselves inappropriately when they need the toilet. Identifying these triggers will help you to avoid them and minimise such displays.
Keep them busy
Boredom can be a major cause of inappropriate behaviour in adults with dementia. Keeping your loved one busy with activities, TV, music and exercise should help to reduce inappropriate behaviour and channel their energy into something that’s easier to deal with.