Changes in Behaviour

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A situation of dependency can generate discomfort and anger, leading to changes in the person’s behaviour that can be hard for the carer to deal with and manage. Knowing how to identify and anticipate these situations and knowing what to do will help to maintain good relations with the dependent person.

If the person refuses care

  • Having empathy in order to understand people’s situation helps show understanding and respect
  • Give people as much time as they need to do things. Do not badger them or ask them to hurry up, as this can lead to a sense of frustration
  • Encourage collaboration and personal autonomy, and avoid involving yourself in activities that he or she can do without any help. We should never carry out tasks that the person being cared for can do on his or her own. Only help with what he or she cannot do unaided
  • The roaming or wandering with no fixed purpose that can be seen in some elderly people occurs when they are disoriented or have dementia. It is important to remove any obstacles that could lead to a fall or bruising, and to establish rest periods during the day, even if this means being strict about it

If the person is agitated or aggressive

  • Avoid arguing, as in these situations it is pointless to try and reason
  • Reduce any background noise. Silence is relaxing
  • Use a quiet tone of voice, and speak slowly and calmly
  • As well as verbal language, non-verbal communication is very important, as it helps maintain a calm atmosphere. Body movements should be smooth and unhurried, showing empathy and a caring attitude
  • Remove any objects that could be dangerous
  • Try to draw the conversation towards topics that the person will enjoy
  • Carry out activities that are familiar and safe. Maintain routines. Changes and new situations can create confusion and disorientation
  • Reinforce positive attitudes. Always reinforce what you want the person to repeat, and that he or she is doing well. Negative attitudes should not be accepted, as otherwise they may be used to draw attention

Above all, this requires lots of patience and an unhurried, upbeat and positive attitude.

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

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