How to deal with changing behaviour in Dementia
One of the characteristics of dementia is that of behaviour changes. You and your loved one will have to get used to this. To help you with this, ‘How to deal with changing behaviour in Dementia’ has been written. This and the next 4 topics (blog posts) help you to understand the change in behaviour of your loved one and gives you tips on how to deal with it better.
What is suspicious behaviour? Dementia can cause people to doubt the intentions or behaviour of people in their environment. This suspicion is almost always aimed at the people closest to them. They are often on their guard and keep a close eye on you or react tense if you ask them how things are going. And often they accuse other people of taking (their) stuff with them.
Your interaction is changing!
It is good to realize that your loved one does not always show this behaviour consciously. The person you are caring for is no longer the same as the person before the disease. Many caregivers have a hard time dealing with this. They often unconsciously treat their loved one in the same way as they did before the disease. To make it easier to deal with the suspicious behaviour of your loved one, it is important that you understand where this behaviour comes from.
Causes and possible solutions
There are six different factors that influence the suspicious behaviour of people with dementia: the dementia itself, their life course, their personality, the space around them, the people around them and their physical body. You cannot do anything about those factors. In this way you cannot change the course of life of people, their personality or the illness itself. It is important to pay attention to these causes, so that you better understand where the behaviour comes from:
Suspicious behaviour can be caused by the dementia itself. Because her or his memory abandons your loved one, he or she can misplace items, or simply lose them. He or she can also misjudge social situations, making it seem as if someone is talking about him or her. If you notice this happening, you can help your loved one by explaining exactly what happens and what the intentions of the other people are.
Situations that someone has experienced in his life can influence the suspicious behaviour. When someone has been cheated a number of times in the past, then it may be that the person becomes even more suspicious due to dementia.
Dementia can cause people who were already a little suspicious in the past may become even more suspicious. And people who often used to look for blame outside themselves, will certainly not do so less when suffering from dementia.
The next factors can be influenced, in other words: you might be able to do something about it:
Someone with dementia can no longer recognize the surroundings that used to be familiar territory. In his or her own house, or in the neighborhood for example. It suddenly seems as if the environment has changed. In an attempt to explain this to themselves, suspicious behaviour sometimes arises. The person closest to this person is accused: “Why did you change this?”, “Why did you bring me here?” Or “Where am I?” Try to ensure a clear and recognizable environment. For example, by hanging family photos in the corridor. Seeing familiar faces may reduce the suspicion.
People in their inner circle
Your behaviour, or that of someone else in the circle of your loved one, can influence suspicious behaviour. When your loved one has difficulties recognizing other people, you can imagine that it will be very confusing if those people start talking to him or her. For your loved ones, they are unknown at the time. This ensures that your loved one is wary, does not trust the situation. It can help to be open and honest. Certainly, when your loved one has the idea that people have different intentions. Discussing and going against it often does not help. Always try to take him or her seriously. Take the time to listen to the worries and try to remove them as calmly as possible.
Suspicious behaviour can also be a side effect of certain medications, or it can be caused by a bladder infection. The person with dementia can have a delirium. Someone suddenly becomes very confused. Often a delirium is accompanied by anxiety, hallucinations and restlessness. Because the person with dementia perceives the world differently than normal, it can cause suspicious behaviour. If you suspect that suspicious behaviour is caused by a physical complaint, try to ask for the cause as specifically as possible. Take the time to do this. Someone with dementia can sometimes not properly indicate or explain what is going on. Consult the doctor if you feel that there is a physical cause or when you think it is a delirium.
We hope that we have been able to help you a little in your effort to deal a little better with the suspicious behaviour of your loved one. Realize well that not all solutions that you come up with will work (immediately).
Did you enjoy the article? You might also be interested in the following blogs; What is Dementia, Handling wandering behaviour of people with dementia.
Or check Dementia-Friendly Singapore on facebook or theAsianparent Singapore