When a loved one is diagnosed with memory loss, changes begin to occur that can range from physical and emotional to cognitive. Many of these changes are far beyond our control, however, it’s possible that some symptoms and behaviors can be managed in order to make both the caregiver and loved one with memory loss’ lives easier.
One of the first changes that can be noticed are changes in personality and physical behavior. According to DeeAnne Helton, Sales & Marketing Manager at CountryHouse, a memory care community in Granite Bay, CA, it’s common to see loved ones with memory loss demonstrate different behaviors. “Memory loss can cause seniors to become upset, anxious and angry much easier than before. It’s really a tricky disease,” says DeeAnne. “Many times, seniors begin to feel as though people are stealing or hiding things from them. It’s also common for them to imagine things that are not really there and to misunderstand what they see or hear. These feelings can cause them to act out and either hit you or others, wander away or even become disinterested in things they used to love.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association® these aggressive behaviors can become either verbal or physical, but when they become physical it becomes more important to prevent and find ways to limit your loved one’s behaviors.
How to Effectively Manage and Limit Physical Behaviors in Memory Loss
It’s important to remember that loved ones with memory loss do not mean to be physical or aggressive and that it’s a not-so-pleasant symptom of their disease. This being said, it’s still important to take their actions seriously, as either you or your loved one could get hurt as a result. Try some of the following tips provided by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association® articles titled “Aggression and Anger” and “Anxiety and Agitation.”
- Treat causes of agitation. If your loved one seems to be annoyed or highly agitated by something, do your best to find the cause. Whether it’s the environment, medical interactions or something as simple as being uncomfortable, it can decrease your loved one’s physical behaviors.
- Create a calmer environment. When loved ones with memory loss are overstimulated, it’s likely they will either wander or begin to demonstrate physical behaviors. Try to create a calm, quiet environment where distractions are minimized.
- Make a note of triggers. If you begin to notice anything that is sparking your loved one’s physical behaviors, make a note of it and find ways to prevent them in the future. Keep in mind that these triggers will likely change and may or may not bother your loved one next time.
- Ensure your loved one’s comfort. If your loved one’s behavior becomes aggressive, make sure they are not in pain and are not uncomfortable. Ask if they are thirsty or hungry. Make sure all their basic needs are met in order to limit their physical behaviors.
- Make tasks simpler. If certain tasks become too difficult for your loved one, find ways to make them simpler. For example, when setting the table, limit the amount of items on the table and just use basic utensils and plates.
- Respond appropriately. If your loved one becomes agitated, aggressive or misinterprets something, refrain from arguing with them. If they become physically harmful or aggressive, do not restrain them, as this can make physical behaviors worse. Instead, be understanding, calm and sensitive to their fears.
- Try a distraction. If your loved one’s physical behaviors are not helped by treating the cause, try to distract them with an activity or by doing something else. Singing, dancing or coming up with something fun to do can help to manage their behavior subtly.
- Stick to a routine. If your loved one needs structure and a routine to follow, make sure to stick to it. Any variations can throw your loved one with memory loss off and cause the likelihood of physical behaviors to increase.
- Take a break. If your loved one is tired or becomes overly agitated, take a break and give both of you some time to cool down. Be sure to still keep an eye on your loved one to make sure they do not wander and are still safe, but just relax while doing so.
- Ensure health and safety. If you believe that either yourself or your loved one are not safe, seek assistance. If your loved one is unable to calm down and their physical behavior worsens, it may be necessary to call 911. Be sure to let emergency personnel know that your loved one has memory loss, which can cause them to act aggressively.
Your Valuable Resource for Education and Support
For more help with managing the physical behaviors of memory loss, feel free to call or visit us at CountryHouse. We would love to assist you during this often trying time, and look forward to being a valuable resource. Be sure to stay tuned for part 2 of our memory loss series, “Managing the Cognitive Behavior of Loved Ones with Memory Loss.”
Treating people like family is at the heart of what we do.
CountryHouse at Granite Bay is the very first CountryHouse location in California. With a desirable location among Folsom Lake and the Sierra foothills, and only 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, Granite Bay was the perfect area to place our upscale memory care community. While CountryHouse at Granite Bay may be brand new to California, we are certainly not new to the needs of seniors. And just like every CountryHouse around the United States, we know that personalized care can make all the difference when it comes to quality care and peace of mind.
At CountryHouse, we provide personalized memory care in an environment that is beautiful and thoughtfully designed. Full of natural light, warmth and tasteful elegance, we want residents and their families to feel welcome and at home. In fact, our staff members are even hand-picked based on their natural empathy. Our staff learns each resident’s story, from their likes and dislikes to their values and their pasts, in order to customize care and make meaningful connections that provide residents with true moments of joy and the desire to make the most of each day.
With our LifeCycles wellness programming, we encourage residents to connect, engage and enjoy every day. Our LifeCycles programming is designed to focus on the four dimensions of wellness: physical, social, spiritual and intellectual. We achieve this through a range of daily activities and routines, which can include daily bus rides, cookouts, trips and other special events. At CountryHouse, we strive to make sure our residents make the most of each day, and we believe that when you treat people like family, and keep that at the heart of what you do, residents, their families and their health thrive. Contact us to learn more!
Connect with us today or call us at 916-778-9665 for more information or to schedule a visit.
CountryHouse is part of the Agemark family of senior living communities.