Challenging Behaviors for the Caregiver
At some point in the course of the disease, Alzheimer's patients may become violent. They may sometimes throw things, hit, kick, bite or pinch the caregiver or others they come into contact with. The patient does not know why they are doing this, and they may not even realize that they are doing it. More than likely, these actions are caused from the brain damage the person suffers from this devastating disease.
These violent displays of behavior can be very frightening to the caregiver and other family members and friends. The caregiver must first try to identify why the behavior is occuring. It seems like any situation that causes the patient to become frightened or frustrated can cause these outbursts.
Some of the things that can make the patient violent are:
Asking the patient to do tasks that are confusing to them. If it requires many steps to complete, it can be very frustrating for them. Any chore you present to them should be a simple, step-by-step process.
Trying to hurry the patient can cause agitation, which could lead to violent behavior.
Not comprehending what you want them to do. This makes them frustrated, and that can lead to violent behavior.
Not being able to make themselves understood. This also leads to feelings of frustration for the victim.
Being in a situation where they feel unfamiliar, such as a family gathering or other social gatherings that involve a lot of people. The crowd and the noise tends to scare the patient, and this can lead to explosive behavior.
Being ill or tired can cause agitation and frustration.
Here are some suggestions to help prevent violent behavior:
If you see the patient is becoming agitated, stay calm. Talk in a calm soothing voice to the person, and let them know that you are not upset.
Use short, simple sentences when talking to the patient. Make sure any directions you give them are easy to understand, and can be done "one-step-at-a-time."
Try to maintain eye contact with the person. This may make you feel in control of the situation, and these feelings can often be sensed by the patient.
If a certain task is causing frustration and anxiety for the patient, try to divert their attention from it.
Try to figure out if the episodes happen at a certain time, or during a specific activity. Once you do this, you might be able to figure out a way to keep the patient from becoming agitated during the activity or task.
However, sometimes a person who displays violent behavior can become a threat to others. The caregiver could possibly find him or herself in a very dangerous situation. Below are some tips to protect yourself and the patient.
Don't try to restrain the person. This could cause serious injury to both of you.
Try to remain calm. A lot of times, the Alzheimer's patient will calm down in a few minutes if left alone.
If the patient starts trying to hit you or throw things at you, use anything you can find as a shield to protect yourself.
If the person manages to grab you, just go limp. Don't try to fight back.
Call someone for help as soon as you can. You can call a friend, family member or neighbor to help you get the patient calmed down. If you have to, you can also call 911 or your local emergency number.
If the violent behavior is a recurrent problem, your physician may prescribe tranquilizers such as, Mellaril, Haldol or Serax. If at all possible, try to avoid physical restraints.
I hope this information has helped you learn a little about violent behavior, and in some way make your life a little easier.
Alzheimer's Outreach http://alzheimers.zarcrom.com
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