Distressed behaviour is problematic behaviour which causes physical, emotional or psychological difficulty for the person experiencing it. Stress has been identified as one of the major causes of distressed behaviour in people with dementia. We all experience stress in our everyday lives. The extent to which being stressed leads to feelings of distress depends on many factors. When supporting a person with dementia, a response that seems inappropriate or exaggerated may in fact be an understandable reaction to stress. Once we understand the impact of stress on the person, their distressed behaviour can often be seen as a logical expression of their emotions and beliefs.
This study guide has been written for staff who work in hospitals, home care, care homes, housing, day centres and dementia services. Volunteers may also find this useful. The guide will help staff understand the meaning behind some of the behaviours which they witness when supporting people with dementia, learn how to reflect on their own practice, make positive changes in practice, and provide compassionate support.
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