Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia can be frightening and challenging for the diagnosed as well as for family and friends around them. The strategies in this article can help all parties adjust to daily life while considering additional options like assisted living or memory care to help give your loved one the best quality of life possible. By recognizing these symptoms and learning the best methods for managing behavior, you can help your loved one as they navigate this difficult time.
Common Alzheimer’s Symptoms
Alzheimer’s results from changes in the brain which can lead to changes in personality and behavior. Though changes may not manifest in the same way for all of those diagnosed, and there are many types of behaviors your loved one may exhibit, here are some of the most common.
Repetition of Speech and Activities
Many of those with Alzheimer’s will repeat words, phrases or activities. This is known as perseveration, and although it is usually not harmful, it can cause stress for caregivers. Often, repetition can be triggered by environmental or emotional factors.
How to Help:
Always remain calm and patient. Additionally, you can attempt to redirect the person’s attention to break the focus on the phrase or activity. Going forward, be cognizant of potential triggers for the repetition and avoid these if a pattern is discovered.
Trouble sleeping is another common symptom of Alzheimer’s. Also referred to as sundowning, restlessness and disorientation increase near the end of the day and throughout the night, often as a result of changes in an individual’s internal biological processes.
How to Help:
Do your best to encourage a better sleep schedule by introducing cues as bedtime nears. Make afternoons and evenings more calm, avoid stimulating foods and beverages like sugar and caffeine and create a relaxing environment. You will also want to ensure your loved one is getting adequate physical activity throughout the day to promote more restful sleep at night.
One of the most potentially dangerous symptoms of Alzheimer’s is wandering. Various triggers like prescription side effects, attempting to complete a task, or boredom may result in spells of wandering. Individuals will need to be observed to ensure they do not get lost or cause harm to themselves.
How to Help:
Consider adding “child-safe” measures like door knob covers and locks to minimize potential risks. You may also want to consider having the person wear some form of identification in case they wander away. Basic tracking measures such as GPS devices or security cameras can also play a role in ensuring the person is in a safe environment.
Agitation and Aggression
Agitation and aggression can manifest in many different ways in a person with Alzheimer’s. Symptoms may include shouting, delusions or physical outbursts. This behavior can be both frightening and dangerous for the individual and caregivers alike.
How to Help:
Ensure no underlying problems, like illness or pain, are present. If they are, make sure these conditions are treated properly. You will also want to remain calm so as not to escalate any aggressive behavior. Always try to remain composed and respond with affection, reassurance and empathy.
Paranoia and Confusion
Individuals with Alzheimer’s may experience extreme bouts of paranoia as a result of their condition. They may become suspicious or accusatory of friends and loved ones. They may also hallucinate and respond to stimuli which may not actually be present.
How to Help:
Reassure the person you are caring for and keep them calm. What they are experiencing feels very real to them. Ensure that others who may come into contact with the individual understand that they should not take any accusations personally, and that it is a manifestation of your loved one’s condition.
More Information About Alzheimer’s
Although Alzheimer’s can be challenging for both the individual diagnosed and those around them, resources are available to assist those affected. Here are some additional places to learn more about Alzheimer’s and related conditions:
- Alzheimer’s Association
- Alzheimer’s Family Center
- Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation
- American Brain Foundation
- Lewy Body Dementia Association
Find the Best Care for Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s
At Querencia at Barton Creek, we are here to help your family cope with an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, or to transition your loved one from assisted living to memory care as their condition progresses. Our compassionate team is available to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have.
We invite you to discover more about our newly renovated memory care neighborhood here in Austin, Text. We can work with you to determine a plan of action to ensure your loved one’s retirement years are dignified and comfortable. Contact us.