One of the most difficult problems to deal with as a caregiver is the
sometimes strange or disruptive behaviours that people with
dementia develop. They may wander, do certain things
repeatedly, or insist on unusual routines or activities.
Some behaviours that seem strange or disturbing may be natural
expressions of a person's lifelong habits or patterns. Understanding some of
the influences on the behaviour may help you deal better with
behaviour problems. Try to figure out the reason behind the behaviour:
Think about the person's background, previous
life experiences (work and daily routines), and preferences (favourite foods,
activities, or places).
Think about whether the person's unusual
behaviours might be motivated by an urge to continue past activities or habits.
Did the person always go to work at a certain time, and does he or she now seem
to be more agitated or likely to wander at that time?
If you do not
know the person well, talk with someone who knew the person before he or she
developed the disease.
Is the person in pain? Pain can be a trigger for changes in behaviour.
Could the person have a urinary tract infection (UTI)? If behaviour changes quickly and is quite different from normal, consider getting the person tested for this problem. After being treated for a UTI, many people return to their usual behaviours.
After you know more about what underlies apparently odd or disruptive
behaviours, you will be better able to understand them and respond in a supportive way
to the affected person. This can help make things easier for you both. You may
find ways to change the person's environment and set up daily routines that
make certain behaviours less of a problem. This may also help you avoid having
to use medicine to control behaviour.