5 Common Alzheimer’s Behaviors and Strategies for Managing Them
Caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s can be a difficult task. Whether you’re dealing with someone in the early, mid or late stages of the disease, understanding the common behaviors to expect and knowing how to manage them can make all the difference.
While there are many behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s at various stages, here we will discuss some of the most common, as well as strategies for managing them. We will also talk about how a skilled memory care team at a Life Care Community like Friendship Village of Bloomington can help provide the care your loved one needs.
5 Common Alzheimer’s Behaviors
Each person with Alzheimer’s will react to the disease differently at different stages, but there are common trends in behavior. Here are some of the most common behaviors your loved one may exhibit.
Confusion or Memory Loss
Perhaps the most prevalent behavior associated with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is confusion and memory loss. This behavior can happen at any time, but it occurs most frequently in unfamiliar places or new environments, especially in the early stages of the disease.
Confusion and memory loss are major contributors to repetitive behavior, but not the only cause. While a loved one with Alzheimer’s might repeat questions or activities as a result of memory loss (for example, forgetting they asked the questions already), repetitive behaviors or speech patterns can also be a way for your loved one to self-soothe.
Anger or Aggression
Outbursts of angry or aggressive behavior can be verbal or physical, and are usually an indicator of another underlying issue. Your loved one may be frustrated or unable to communicate clearly, or may have experienced a sudden onset of confusion or disorientation.
People with Alzheimer’s often experience sleep disturbances or increased anxiety, confusion and agitation at night. These behaviors are often known as “sundowning.” The exact cause is unknown, but the lack of light after sundown can increase shadows, making it easier for your loved one to misinterpret what they are seeing. Sometimes people with Alzheimer’s experience disrupted circadian rhythms as well, where their internal clock confuses day and night.
When someone with Alzheimer’s wanders, it is often in response to feeling disoriented or no longer recognizing their surroundings. While there are safe ways to allow your loved one to wander, this common behavior is one of the most dangerous. Sudden disorientation can lead to wandering into dangerous places or wandering too far from home with an inability to find their way back.
Strategies for Managing Alzheimer’s Behaviors
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to managing common Alzheimer’s behaviors, but these are some strategies that can make soothing your loved one and dealing with their behavior a little easier.
Create a Calm Environment
Much of the agitation and anxiety that accompanies many common Alzheimer’s behaviors comes from the sense of confusion, the feeling of being lost and the unexpected disorientation. One of the best ways to manage this agitation is to create an environment for your loved one that is soothing. Play music they love, and keep photos of familiar memories close at hand. Make navigating their living space easy and their daily schedule clear and simple to follow.
Look for Patterns
It’s difficult to manage behaviors if you can’t determine what is causing them. An important aspect of caretaking for someone with Alzheimer’s is identifying patterns. Look for commonalities in when their behavior occurs, where it occurs and see if there are consistent underlying needs or emotions that accompany the behaviors. This information can help you anticipate more dangerous behaviors before they occur. It can also allow you time to redirect or implement other safety and coping strategies.
Build a Daily Plan
Routine and familiarity are important components of managing your loved one’s Alzheimer’s. If your loved one is getting confused and off-track more frequently, putting together a consistent routine can help. This should include relaxing activities like daily walks and regular meal times, bathing times, etc. This will help build a sense of certainty and reliability, which can be a source of comfort in and of itself.
Ask for Help
Managing Alzheimer’s is no easy task, and it’s only made more difficult when the emotions of watching your loved one’s condition progress become overwhelming. Sometimes, the best way to manage your loved one’s disease is to know that you don’t have to do so alone. Reaching out to a senior living community that offers high-quality memory care can be the first step to long-term relief for you and your loved one.
Memory Care at Friendship Village of Bloomington
As Alzheimer’s progresses, the care your loved one requires progresses, too. From medication management to therapies, programming and assistance with daily activities, the highly-trained professionals at Friendship Village of Bloomington can help. We’ll work with you to create a personalized care plan to meet your loved one’s specific and individual needs. Learn more about how our memory care team can help give your loved one the comprehensive care they need.