The Dos and Don’ts of Dementia Care: Handling Dementia Behavioural Problems

Do you have a family member or loved one who has been diagnosed with Dementia? It’s certainly not an easy thing to digest, but the important thing to know is that help exists. You and your family may need a lot of support and it’s important to facilitate a healthcare plan right away.

Dementia is a disease that progresses with time. The term “Dementia” is an over-arching term to describe over 400 types of the brain disease — they all come with unique traits and qualities and not all patients are the same. However, regardless of the type, the disease will worsen and affect the brain by causing damage to brain cells.

Home healthcare allows your loved one to keep their dignity and self-esteem by remaining in a place that they know and love — wherever it is that they call home. Integracare is an upscale, high quality, home healthcare provider that offers elderly Dementia Care in Toronto and Mississauga.

We have been providing Dementia Care for Seniors and their families for almost 30 years and we pride ourselves on our outstanding Dementia Care program.

Our team of Caregivers is carefully selected and uniquely educated in all aspects of Dementia Care. We connect Clients with Caregivers who are supervised on a 24/7 basis by Registered Nursing and Dementia Care Specialists.

We’re proud to be Toronto and Mississauga’s only home healthcare provider committed to educating 100% of our Caregivers in all four facets of Dementia Care. Our philosophy is to make top quality care available for Clients 24-hours a day. Our objective is to deliver the highest quality in care along with compassion and engaging companionship.

Many people hear the word “Dementia” and automatically think of a forgetful, confused individual. Of course, this does occur when people are diagnosed with Dementia with symptoms becoming more severe over time. Memory loss is a common thread that binds all of the types together. Yet, what some people don’t know is that people living with Dementia can also experience drastic personality changes and aggressive behaviour.

A person living with Dementia may become irritable with little provocation. Struggling with communication is one the most upsetting and difficult aspects of taking care of an individual with Dementia.

Although it’s difficult to understand why a person with the disease acts the way that they do, the explanation is always attributable to the disease and how it’s changing the brain.

Your loved one’s Integracare Caregiver will know how to handle challenging situations, but it’s important that you do, too. Familiarize yourself with these common symptoms of the disease and situation. If your loved one seems to be having hallucinations, delusions, is aggressive, or saying shocking things, you’ll be able to utilize the following strategies and respond calmly and effectively.


Confusion about Time or Place


You might hear your family member or friend say things like:


  • This isn’t my house
  • Why are we here?
  • Who are you, and who are all these people?


When an individual that we have known all of our lives say things such as these, it can feel overwhelming and incredibly difficult. You must remember that this is the disease talking; it’s not them.

It’s critical to do conduct a little research on the disease — understanding the progression of Dementia will help you and your family know how to react to disorienting and often unnerving situations. Dementia causes progressive damage to cognitive brain functioning, which is what creates the memory loss and confusion symptoms.

These feelings of confusion can create further feelings of anxiety, and this is difficult to manage.

Do: There are few effective ways to truly resolve these situations. Communicate with simple explanations and reminders such as photographs to trigger memories and help alleviate your loved one’s confusion.

Don’t: Give a lengthy answer in an attempt to make them understand. The sad reality is that you may not be able to reason with someone with Dementia. Don’t trigger additional confusion by asking them questions about why they’re thinking a certain way.


Responsive Behaviour

Dementia Care in Toronto and Mississauga

It’s highly common for people living with Dementia to experience waves of aggression and behavioural changes. Sometimes these changes in personality can be violent in nature.

The most important thing to remember about these outbursts is that your loved one isn’t doing this on purpose. They’re not intentionally trying to hurt you. Aggression is usually triggered by something external.

Outside factors such as being in an unfamiliar situation, physical discomfort or pain, and poor communication can trigger responsive behaviour. Most of the time it’s coming from a place of fear. People living with Dementia may react aggressively when they feel frightened or threatened by something. Knowing where that fear originates from is the difficult part.

Do: Try to identify what could be upsetting your loved one. Are they cold? Are they uncomfortable? When you’re able to assert that they’re not going to injure themselves or others, speak to them in a calm, reassuring manner and shift the focus to something else.

Don’t: The absolute worst thing you can do is engage in an argument and force the issue that’s creating the aggression. The best way to stop responsive behaviour is to remove the word ‘no’ from your vocabulary.

Clients need more and more support as the disease progresses. Integracare provides the best possible live-in care for your loved one so that he or she can be comfortable and safe at all hours, day or night. Our live-in Caregivers are trained in approaching these situations with empathy as well as with tested, professional methods.


Poor Judgement


The deterioration of brain cells caused by Dementia leads to unusual behaviour that reflects poor judgment. Your loved one may experience delusions, hallucinations, or believe outlandish things. Symptoms might include:


  • Hoarding household items and hiding them
  • Accusing family members or Caregivers of stealing
  • Keeping poor finances


Do: Be encouraging and sympathetic. Even if you don’t truly understand their behaviour or decisions, be sympathetic and try not to question their actions or motives. If they’re keeping poor finances and you’re worried, look at their bills and banking accounts if you have access.

Our Caregivers are there to provide support and can help with organization in the house. You can trust us to handle situations such as these with delicacy and the utmost professionalism.

Don’t: Don’t blatantly ask the individual questions that undermine their ability to take care of themselves and don’t try to argue with them with accusatory statements. Don’t make them feel alienated or insignificant.

Overall, regardless of what the behavioural change is, always practice patience and forgiveness. It’s more than likely the disease talking, not the person. Try your hardest to let things go and don’t hold a grudge for empty reasons.

The one exception that you can’t ignore is if your loved one becomes a physical danger to themselves or others. This type of abusive and dangerous behaviour is not OK. Even a one-time occurrence should be relayed to Caregivers and physicians immediately. Refraining to do so could result in disastrous results.

Dementia is not simple to understand. You and your family should receive as much information as possible if someone close to you has been recently diagnosed.

The personable and highly-trained Integracare Caregivers are here to provide on-going support and compassion 24-hours a day, seven days a week — simply contact us to learn more about our Dementia Care program and how we can help you through this difficult time.

Get the help that you need and prepare yourself for what’s to come. Facing Dementia should not be done alone.