5 ADDITIONAL Challenging Dementia Behaviors Explained!
Have you ever struggled with these challenging situations, commonly seen in those living with dementia?
People living with dementia often experience changes in their ability to process language, which means they it may become increasingly difficult for them to understand words. This can result in many challenges, including the ones listed below:
1. Constantly saying “What?” or asking you to repeat yourself
This usually leads to an assumption that the person is experiencing hearing loss. While this may be true, it is also quite likely that their hearing is actually not the issue. Instead, they may be experiencing changes in their ability to understand language.
Did you know that people with mid-stage dementia commonly miss one out of every four words that are spoken to them? When that many words are being lost, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand what someone is trying to say to them, so they may often ask you to repeat yourself.
Try this: Instead of increasing your volume, try using less words and speaking more slowly.
2. Having trouble following instructions
While some might assume that the individual is being stubborn or defiant, it is very likely that they may in fact be having trouble following a set of directions due to changes in language processing.
Try this: When providing instructions, give only one step at a time and keep the number of words to a minimum.
3. Resisting Care
There are a wide variety of reasons that this may occur, but one of the most significant is that the person living with dementia is simply not understanding what the care partner is attempting to do. Even though the care partner believes that they are explaining things adequately, they are often providing too many words and speaking too quickly to allow for the individual living with dementia to process and understand.
If the individual is missing some or most of the words, then it is likely they will become confused, startled, or alarmed when someone tries to remove their pants or touch their face, and they may strike out in self-defense.
Try this: When providing care, use just a few words, speak more slowly, and provide visual cues to allow for optimal processing.
4. Being agitated or distracted in noisy environments
It is extremely common for individuals to have a much more difficult time processing language in noisy or busy environments. The more stimuli present, the more challenging it can be to follow and process the words in a conversation.
Try this: Choosing a calmer environment, such as a quiet restaurant rather than a bustling one, or an empty day room rather than the busy common area, can help optimize the ability to process language.
5. Turning up the TV or radio volume
It is very easy to assume that this action is due to a hearing loss, or maybe even a desire to irritate a spouse or roommate! However, it is quite likely that the individual may be experiencing a change in the ability to understand language. They likely do not understand this change is occurring, so they may feel that they may be able to understand the words better if they increase the volume.
Try this: Sometimes suggesting a gradual shift to a different type of programming, such as a music station rather than all-talk radio, may help to ease some frustration for someone struggling with language processing.
(If you missed our previous post, read about the other 5 Challenging Dementia Behaviors we discussed)
Throughout the GEMS States in the progression of dementia, the ability to understand language typically changes significantly. When you gain awareness of this common dementia symptom, you are able to respond more compassionately and effectively, and therefore create more positive daily interactions.
Learn more about vision changes and the GEMS States from these Positive Approach to Care Resources:
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