Identifying the Triggers of Difficult Behaviors in Dementia Patients

Posted on Feb 08, 2021

older confused man

Helping care for loved ones with dementia often means attempting to manage their challenging behaviors. Often, the tiniest actions or changes in their environment can trigger negative reactions. In this piece, we’re going to look at how to begin to determine these triggers and spot patterns that will help you prevent negative behaviors. 

Document the Clues Before Attempting to Analyze Them

Like investigating the scene of an accident, it is important to initially put aside theories or hunches about what caused a particular behavior. Instead, simply document the who, what, where, and when details that will help you determine the why. 

You may want to take out a notepad or start a note on your mobile device to work through this process.

Step 1: Document the Behavior in Detail

Before we begin to backtrack to the trigger of the behavior, it’s important to document the behavior in detail. Think as though you were reporting the details of an incident you witnessed to the authorities. 

Who: Who was present when the behavior began? 

What: What happened around your loved one? What specifically did they say? What did they do? What did other people do? What did you do or say in response? Did that help or did it make matters worse?

Where: Where did the behavior take place? Which room? Which part of that room? Which pieces of furniture were nearby? 

When: When did this occur? What day of the week? What time of that day? How frequently does this occur? How long does it last? 

Now that you have the behavior or incident thoroughly documented, it’s time to do a similar practice of chronicling the moments leading up to that behavior. 

Step 2: Document the Moments Before The Moment

Make a similar log of precisely what was happening the moments before the behavior was triggered. Paint the scene of the moments leading up to the negative behavior.

  • Where were particular items in the environment placed? 
  • What was your loved one doing? 
  • What other things were happening nearby?

Step 3: Look For Patterns

Look at all of the data you have collected and scenes you have painted. Instead of thinking about it from your perspective, look at the details from their perspective. Look for the patterns in what has changed. What may have changed from one moment to the next? Are these changes similar to each other before an incident occurs? 

Step 4: Test Your Theories

By now, you’ll likely begin to have theories or hunches about what may be causing the behavior. If you’re having trouble seeing the triggers, remember to look at the scenes you’ve painted from their perspective. Doing so may help you identify something you overlooked because it seemed insignificant to your unimpaired mind.

Once you have a few ideas about what may be triggering these patterns, you can carefully test these hunches by removing what you suspect to be triggering these behaviors. 

Once you remove or change these triggers, carefully monitor how your loved one responds. Don’t be surprised if the trigger was something seemingly insignificant or even silly.

Do they no longer have those loud outbursts? 

Do they still respond, but differently?

Does their behavior actually get worse? (This is still useful information.) 

Continue to monitor their reactions to changing triggers.

Even if you discover the trigger for your loved one’s negative behavior, it’s important to continue to remain perceptive to their reactions. Once you’ve isolated several different triggers for negative behavior, you will likely begin to spot patterns in these triggers that will help you prevent negative behaviors before they occur. 

You Have Friends That Care

For additional resources or assistance in caring for loved ones with dementia toward the end of life, your friends at Cura HPC Hospice & Palliative care are here for you. 

You’re invited to learn more about Cura HPC today.

How Do I Keep It Together When Things Falls Apart?

Posted on Jan 07, 2021

processing grief

How do I keep it together in the face of loss?

Whether you’re witnessing the gradual cognitive decline of a loved one or you’re helping care for a family member with a terminal illness, you likely feel helpless. If you’ve already lost someone, the pain of mourning their passing can feel debilitating. You may be searching for answers on how to keep it together during these times of immense pain—which may be one of the reasons you found this article. So, what’s the key to keeping it together during these times? 

Simply put, don’t. 

We’ve become very good at keeping up appearances. A little too good, actually. 

Despite the apparent perfect life of your friends, acquaintances, and celebrity fascinations on social media, nobody has it completely together. Most people are very good at curating what they want others to see and think about them. However, keeping up these appearances has put undue pressure on us all to appear to “be strong” in the face of adversity. 

You don’t have to keep it together. In fact, it’s better if you don’t try. 

So, should we give up trying to cope with the gradual or past loss of a loved one? While it may be important to preserve your mental, physical, and spiritual health, it’s OK to let yourself experience the sadness, the frustration, the confusion, and the void left by the loss of a loved one. True, it will be unpleasant, but when we avoid allowing ourselves to feel these sensations, we end up feeling sad and stressed and anxious—not only about how we will end up feeling, but what other people will think about us. 

“Be strong for_____” is lousy advice. 

As we undergo loss, we feel the need to be strong for others. For our kids. For our families. For our friends. In reality, the most healthy thing we can do is be strong for ourselves. How do you do that? By allowing yourself to be vulnerable. To stop fighting grief. To let others help you. To permit yourself to process the emotions you’ve been holding back so you can begin to heal. But remember—there’s no rush.

Hospice & Palliative Care Serving the Greater Tulsa, OK Area

It can be challenging to accept help during hard times. Still, you owe it yourself to reach out for help when you need it. If you’re looking for caring hospice and palliative professionals in the Greater Tulsa, OK area, you’re invited to learn more about Cura HPC Hospice & Palliative Care today.

How Should I Correct a Dementia Patient’s Bad Behavior?

Posted on Jan 07, 2021

So, you’re helping care for a loved one with dementia. As you know, their behavior can border from pleasant to downright hostile. Most misbehavior is due to their own confusion, so it can be challenging to correct this behavior. Still, we can’t just let them act out, can we? No, but we can reduce instances of misbehavior in two ways. 

Tactic 1: Opt for diversion in place of head-on confrontation.  

While there’s nothing wrong with asking a loved one to cease an unhelpful behavior, there’s no reason why such correction should become a confrontation. Becoming stern, impatient, or visibly annoyed with a dementia patient will only escalate tensions. Instead, attempt to divert attention away from the misbehavior.

Tactic 2: Remove the factors that contribute to misbehavior. 

If addressing misbehavior to someone with dementia fixed the issue, that’s great! Unfortunately, this is rarely effective in the long term. While usually not spiteful, a loved one experiencing cognitive decline either (a) won’t remember that you asked them not to do something or (b) won’t realize that they’re even doing what they’re doing. 

So, what can you do? Remove the obstacle. 

Let’s say that the dementia patient you’re caring for has a bad habit of automatically throwing away all their mail as though it’s junk mail. Maybe they had a habit of throwing out junk mail before, but now important bills and letters wind up in the trash. Instead of scolding them about this behavior, you can make sure that all mail goes through you before it ever gets to them. By doing this, you remove the likelihood that they can throw unopened mail away and remove a potential negative encounter with them. 

Have a reason for your environmental change ready. 

If you have changed the environment to reduce the likelihood of bad behavior (for example, you get the mail from the mailbox instead of them), the person may ask why the change has taken place. Instead of telling them that you’re doing so because of their misbehavior, have another reason ready. Perhaps, say that you enjoy getting the mail or receiving something that they don’t—some form of coupons they treat as junk mail, etc. Choose an excuse to defuse any confrontations preemptively. 

Preserve the Positivity

Though we may feel more like parents to children than caregivers to loved ones with dementia, it’s important to remember that this is not the dynamic to foster. These are not children who learn from their mistakes and can be told what to do. These are adults who deserve a semblance of autonomy while likely not capable of retaining the information you give them. To preserve the positivity in their home or care center, the best approach is to reduce the opportunity for bad behaviors to occur in the first place. In this way, you can avoid difficult conversations and negative emotions.

Hospice & Palliative Care Serving the Greater Tulsa, OK Area

If you’re looking for caring hospice and palliative professionals in the Greater Tulsa, OK area, you’re invited to learn more about Cura HPC Hospice & Palliative Care today.

When is Hospice Right for Heart Disease Patients?

Posted on Dec 09, 2020

The Confusing Relationship Between Hospice and Heart Disease

Could heart disease patients benefit from hospice services and when? 

Because hospice services are usually recommended by a physician when all treatment avenues are have been expended, and a patient is expected only to live an additional year, six months, or less, heart disease can make matters complicated for all involved. 

When is hospice right for heart disease patients? 

Though one may receive a diagnosis of severe heart disease, determining when heart failure will ultimately take their life is difficult, if not impossible. Due to heart disease’s complex nature, only a physician can determine if hospice services are the best next choice.

What are some signs that a heart disease patient may be considered for hospice? 

Though rare, it’s not unheard of for a physician to recommend hospice services for a patient who has a combination of the following signs: 

  • Advanced coronary disease with bouts of severe chest pain due to angina
  • Has expended all surgical options for treatment
  • Has personally decided not to opt for any additional treatments

Why would hospice be the right choice for those with a terminal heart condition? 

When all treatments aimed at recovery from heart disease have been expended, hospice care can help these patients find more day-to-day comfort than they may have ordinarily received toward the end of their life. This care includes management of their pain, shortness of breath, and other persistent discomforts. At times, managing these symptoms in lieu of aggressive attempts at curative treatments actually result in fewer instances of hospitalization and an overall higher quality of life. 

Many loved ones and patients of advanced heart disease who were ultimately forced to undergo hospice services in the last few days of life claim they wish they had sought out hospice care much sooner. 

Palliative and Hospice Care in the Greater Tulsa, Oklahoma Area

If you’re looking for nurturing and professional hospice or palliative care services in Tulsa, Oklahoma, look no further than the friendly assistance from Cura HPA Hospice & Palliative Care. 

4 Misconceptions About Dementia Staging

Posted on Dec 09, 2020

1. There’s not a single dementia staging model. 

Staging one’s level or stage of dementia can be immensely difficult due to not only the various types of dementia but also the different staging models that may exist per dementia type. For the sake of clear communication between caregivers and family, it is crucial to determine which staging model will be implemented. Which staging model is to be followed should ideally be determined by a physician. Upon dementia diagnosis, feel free to ask which staging model will be utilized and how stages will be determined going forward according to this model. 

2. A dementia patient may seem to flow between stages. 

One of the most confusing aspects of dementia is the day-to-day mental state of the patient. Depending on the style of dementia, several days of intense confusion may be followed by days of apparent clarity and a return to one’s “old self.” While days of clarity should be cherished, treating them as a symptom of improvement may be emotionally precarious for loved ones. These good days following bad days can be a bit of a rollercoaster, so it is important for loved ones and caregivers to “zoom out”—determining the state of a patient’s wellbeing by taking an average of a month or even several months to gauge their condition—not one day to the next. 

3. There’s no set time per stage for patients. 

It’s not wise to estimate just how long it will take a dementia patient to move from one stage to the next. Too many variables exist that can speed up or slow down the rate of dementia stage progression. The type of dementia, specific age, activity, socialization, and even one’s diet can impact one’s time in a particular stage of dementia. No one can put a particular date on the rate of progression of one’s dementia.

4. There’s no singular symptom used in staging. 

As much as one would like a clear sign that their loved one has moved from one stage of dementia to another, that’s not necessarily how staging works. Instead, specialists look at a range of symptoms, their frequency, and many other factors to determine the stage of a patient’s dementia. While confusing for loved ones, this may actually provide a bit of hope for those who have already assumed an extremely late stage due to one or two specific symptoms. No two cases are identical, and no two timelines are the same. 

Palliative and Hospice Care in the Greater Tulsa, Oklahoma Area

If you’re looking for nurturing and professional hospice or palliative care services in Tulsa, Oklahoma, look no further than the friendly assistance from Cura HPA Hospice & Palliative Care.