Dementia Behaviours: New Suspicions
This is our fifth blog on behaviours, and this is one I dealt with personally. Before I tell you my personal experience. I think we need to understand that people with dementia may become suspicious of those around them. Even saying they have stolen from them, or if speaking to their spouse, they may accuse them of infidelity.
Delusions which are firmly held beliefs in things that are not real may occur in middle to late stages of the disease and the confusion and memory loss people experience with dementia can contribute to the delusions. These suspicious delusions are what is referred to as paranoia. So even if this is not reality, it is their reality and we should not tell them they are wrong, we need to learn how to work with them and their delusions and new paranoia.
Here at MPHC, we always say that instead of trying to bring a person with dementia into our world, we need to live in their world.
My mother would always call me and tell me the cleaning lady was stealing her money and her jewellery. Of course, this was not the case, and I made the mistake of saying she was wrong and that it was not happening. That was not the best response on my part. There may even be times where our loved one will misinterpret what they see and hear. According to the Dementia Society there is a basic three-step approach in understanding and finding solutions to the most common behaviours that is used by professionals all over our country.
- Examine the behaviour.
- What was the behaviour – was it harmful?
- Did something trigger the behaviour?
- What happened immediately after the behaviour?
- Could something be causing the person pain?
- Could this be related to medications or illness? Consult a doctor to be sure.
- Explore potential solutions.
- Are the persons needs being met?
- Can adapting the surrounding comfort the person?
- How can you change your reaction or approach?
- Try different responses.
- Did your new response help?
- Do you need to explore other potential solutions? If so, what can you do differently?
The best ways to respond to the new suspicions:
- Do not take offence – listen to what your loved one is saying to you and try to be understanding. Then be reassuring, respond to the feeling and let them know you care and hear what they are saying.
- Do not argue or try to convince – this was what I did, and well, we all know that is the worst thing to do. So just allow your loved one to express their feelings and acknowledge what was said.
- Offer a simple answer – such as maybe it is in your coat pocket.
- Distract- switch to another activity – say something like let us go make some food or tea and once we are done, we can look for your item – now we know full well they will forget once they are done their tea and we can move onto something else.
- Make sure to have two of the items that go missing – so if it is a wallet, get a second one that is the exact same and plant it somewhere in the house. If it is an heirloom, that is a little more difficult, maybe see if you can find something that looks like that item and plant it somewhere too. Regardless of what you do, make sure you always remember where you planted the second item.
Our last blog will have to do with wandering, that can be a very scary behaviour for anyone to have to deal with and therefore we have provided you some insight in that blog.