Understanding People with Dementia: How to Respond to Distressed Behavior

Confusion can lead anyone to act irrationally, and this occurs commonly in people with dementia. Distressed behavior is a typical characteristic of the condition and it is essential to know how to identify its causes and how to respond to it. Screaming, rudeness or any exalted attitude is a sign of distressed behavior, and they can be caused by frustrating situations, a scare, a problem of communication, depression and many other different causes. Whenever a person with dementia is acting this way, this is how you should respond:


Avoid arguing

Remember that people with dementia can no longer think logically nor rationally, so arguing with them can worsen the situation.  It is better to leave the room to relax and then come back.


Don’t take it personally

Again, people with dementia don’t think rationally. They might say things that seem personal or intentional, but the truth is that they are not thinking what they are saying nor notice if they are being rude or hurtful.


Encourage communication

The reason why this person is distressed might be that there is something they want to communicate but can’t find the way to do so. Maybe they are in pain or want to ask for something in particular, and they will try to express it through their behavior.


Have respect and empathy

Understanding is the only tool that is going to help anyone deal with a person with dementia. Understanding their emotions are going to help feel empathy towards them and respect them. It is important always to treat them right and the way they deserve, with support and love.


Consider drug treatments

Sometimes, levels of aggressiveness can reach high, and they can become dangerous for themselves and anyone around them. If nothing helps to calm down a person with dementia, then it is good to consider using medications, always prescribed by a doctor.

If you want to learn more about how to respond to distressed behavior in people with dementia, don’t forget to buy the book “Supporting people with dementia: understanding and responding to distressed behaviour.”

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3 Tips to Make Interiors Comfortable for People with Dementia

A care facility for people with dementia has to be adapted to its patients’ needs. Caregivers have to understand how people with dementia see the world and move on it to be able to offer the best help they can. These are a kind of patients that require a lot of attention and have particular necessities, so it is important that everything that surrounds them accommodates to them. Here are four tips to create comfortable spaces for residents of a dementia care facility:


1. Areas for wandering are a must

One of the biggest characteristics of dementia patients is that they tend to wander around quite often. As we cannot control them, wandering is a must in their lives, but it can put them in dangerous situations. It is important to accommodate the furniture in a way that it does not block their path and leads them back to where they started. Doors they should not pass can be painted the same color as the wall, so they don’t notice them.


2.  Use objects to make them feel comfortable

It has been proven that objects help triggering memories and make connections with important parts of their lives. Personalize their space with familiar objects to make them feel at home. This will also help them stay calmed and relaxed.

Also, objects can help them make connections with simple actions and give them a sense of stability and order. Particular and identifiable objects like statues, big clocks, pianos, bookshelves, etc., can help them recognize where they are and what to do there. For example, a picture that attracts their attention located in a dining room can help them understand that that is the place for eating. They establish a connection between the picture and eating.


3. Avoid confusing and contrasting objects, walls and floors

The brain of a person with dementia understands things literally, so it is important to avoid mixed signals in anything that surrounds them. If wallpaper looks like a sky but when they approach it there isn’t more space in front of them, and instead it feels hard – because it is a wall- they can feel stressed and confused.

Floors have to be the least contrasting in their environment. It is better to keep the same flooring type all over the place and avoid having different patterns in hallways and rooms since these changes could make it hard for them to step into new places.

If you want to learn more about how to design interiors for people with dementia, don’t forget to buy the book “Designing interiors for people with dementia – 4th edition” by Liz Fuggle.