for Managing Behavior of People with HD
behavior is in response to unmet personal needs, frustration, or a sense
of powerlessness. People with Huntington's Disease (HD), because of organic
brain damage, are unable to rationalize certain situations and, therefore,
may appear to be irrational, demanding, or selfish. They are often unable
to learn new tasks. Techniques using reward and punishment and behavior
modification are beyond their mental ability.
situations, caregivers who are tired and overworked may stop rationalizing
the behavior and fall into the trap of reacting to it by becoming either
authoritarian, rude, or even angry. Often caregivers will forget that the
person with HD is brain impared, and that the impairment is one of the
reasons for the behavior.
- Don't argue
with the person. Remember he or she may no longer have the ability to be
as rational as you.
- Don't order
the person around. Few of us like to be "bossed" and the HD person
is no exception. State directions positively rather than negatively. Instead
of "You can't go," say something like, "Let's look at these
- Don't be
condescending. A condescending tone may provoke anger even if the words
are not understood.
- Don't ask
a lot of questions that rely on good memory. Remember, the person may have
memory loss and may feel humiliated or angry if you ask questions he or
she can't answer.
- Don't speak
about the person as if he or she were not there.
To Other Dementia Directories
to Huntington's Directory