Overall Tips on “Behaviors”
The word behavior in dementia care or even healthcare has gotten a bad rap. We tend to only think of the negative and not the positive.
I use actions and reactions, since many “behaviors” are just reactions to our actions.
If we get upset at our computer or we’re cranky at 4pm or maybe frustrated at a co-worker for not finishing their side of your project; no one says, “Geez Pam sure has some behaviors today.” We are reacting normal for the situation that we are in.
Why when a person receives a diagnosis of a type of dementia almost everything, they do need a label? We don’t see anything as normal like we did before the diagnosis. Most of the negative behaviors of persons living with dementia, we have invented by taking a good behavior, walking and we turn it into wandering or saving items and it is now hoarding.
So before you look at a person and say what inappropriate, bad or difficult behaviors they have, first think about:
Whose problem is it?
Is what the person is doing a problem? Or is it just a problem to you? Maybe it is not what the person would have done before they had dementia and you are wanting them to “act normal”
Whose it hurting?
Is it hurting anyone? Physically or emotionally? Maybe your Mom never danced around the kitchen before, maybe she found it too silly. Maybe your dad likes to sit in the backseat while you drive? What does it hurt?
Is this the person naturally?
Was your Grandpa always grumpy? Your Aunt never wanted to do anything but sit inside and smoke cigarettes and watch her shows? Did you know that before the kids were born your Dad liked to walk around in his boxers inside the house? Maybe this is just who the person has always been and you didn’t realize it?
Is it a matter of health and safety?
If what they are doing is a matter of health or safety, then yes of course we need to look further to the reason why and what we can do.
Are we the ones with the por, bad, need to mage or inappropriate behavior?
We, the caregivers, are the ones who need to change our behavior, not those we care for.