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How to stop difficult dementia behaviors [by finding out the reason]

Uncategorized Jan 31, 2021

Welcome back Careblazer. Are you ready to learn more about what’s causing your loved one to have those frustrating/difficult behaviors? 


Last week, I shared with you the information you need to gather if you want to get to the bottom of why your loved one is doing what they are doing. So I’m hoping you’ve started gathering that information and writing it down either using my free worksheet I created for you or your own notebook.
Today, I’m going to talk about what to do after you have all that information. Let’s say you’ve gathered several weeks worth of information and no clear patter is jumping out at you. What do you do from there. Well, this is where I want you to jump into the action stage. Last week was about the surveillance stage- the gathering of the information, so if you haven't seen part one of this series, click here. Now we are into the action stage. Let’s take what we know and do something about it. 


If you would like to see a video on this topic, click here.


Also I’ve created another handout for you. You can download it at the link here or just take notes from this post and use any notebook you have. 


Okay, first you want to remind yourself of the behavior you are focusing on and what you’d like to see instead. I’d recommend focusing on ONE behavior at a time. So let's use last week’s example of your LOWD yelling and and throwing the remote at you when you opened up the curtains and you’d like them to remain watching TV without yelling and throwing things.


The 1st step is brainstorming. What are all the possible reasons your loved one did what they did. Now it’s really important here to get into your loved one’s world and try to think from their perspective. Why would my LO do that? Why would they throw the remote? Now get creative here and don’t hold back.

Some ideas might be:

  • They thought I was a stranger
  • I interrupted their favorite tv show
  • They couldn’t hear or see the TV when I walked in
  • They don’t like the light from the outside coming in
  • They thought I was going to turn off the tv
  • They thought I was going to ask them to do something
  • I walked in really fast
  • I looked mad 
  • Maybe you noticed it happened right before lunch on most days and they are hungry. etc. 


The second step is EXPLORE. Choose one of the things you think could be the cause. For example, perhaps you think it’s because when you walked in, your loved one couldn’t hear or see the TV. Remember, it might be easy for our brains to compensate for extra noise and visual information, but for someone with dementia, it’s not so easy. That’s why that made the list.


Based on your suspicions above, that they couldn’t hear and see the TV when I walked, ask yourself:


How will I change my approach? 

I won’t walk in front of the TV and I’ll be quiet. I’ll also try to wait for a commercial break. 


How will I change the environment? 

I might need to move the furniture a few feet from the wall so I can walk behind the couch instead of in front where I block his view. 


Next, ask yourself, what will you do if the desired behavior doesn’t happen after you’ve done the above steps?

I like this one because ahead of time you are preparing yourself that this might not be a one and done type thing. You may not get to the bottom of the behavior on the first try. That’s okay. So what are other things you can try if the above strategy doesn’t work? Thinking that the trigger is still you interrupting and making it difficult for your loved one to hear and see, what else might you try? 

For example, I might make the effort to only walk in the living room when they are watching TV if it’s absolutely necessary or if I’m going to join in watching TV. That way I remove the obstacle altogether. I’m not going to walk in the living room to do something while he’s watching TV. 


Then, if the above behavior doesn’t improve or go away after trying some of these other approaches, you're on step 3: RESET/REVISE/REPEAT. You  go back to brainstorming brainstorming. What’s causing the behavior? This time you decide to play around with the lunch time idea. So when you walk in the living room just before lunch, you give your loved one some apple slices and then continue with what you are doing.  And you repeat. So you revise your approach and you repeat the the steps. The reset is mostly a mental reset. Be mindful you aren’t getting frustrated, telling yourself nothing will work or it’s impossible. When you have those thoughts in your mind, you probably don’t even want to run through this exercise. Your mind won’t be open to various possibilities and your non-verbals in that mindset are likely to contribute to further difficult behaviors. Instead, have a mantra or coping statement ready and when you feel ready to tackle it again, go for it. 

It's also important to recognize that you don’t have to keep doing this daily to figure it out. If you want to take a break from it you can until you’re ready again. Just go back to your notes. 


I mentioned last week that this type of approach allows us to look at these behaviors with curiosity. It helps take some of that emotional edge off. Similar to the detective determined to solve the crime, you become the Careblazer determined to solve for the behavior. 


You can repeat this process for any behavior as much as you want. Again, the worksheet for this video and lasts week’s video is attached here for you to download.

Don’t forget there’s only one week left to get inside access to my care course. Click here for a a little sneak peak of my care course before it opens up for new enrollment in a week. So don’t wait if you want to really find out if it can help you and what it’s like. 


I’ll be back next week with a new video and Careblazer I’m so excited for it. I interview a psychiatrist on the top 5 things your LO”s medical doctor should be asking about. See you next week!


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