If you are caring for a loved one living with a degenerative neurological disorder, like Alzheimer’s, you may have realized your loved one changes in response to their surrounding environment. For example, he/she may be a lot more sensitive to loud noises or poor lighting in their living space. In this blog, we will explain some reasons why these negative reactions occur and provide some tips on how to improve your loved one’s environment to make them feel more comfortable.
Why Negative Behaviors Might Occur
Degenerative neurological disorders impact the perceptions and experiences of those living with the condition. As a result, people will interpret things incorrectly or might experience delusions. Delusions are beliefs or conceptions of the world that contradict reality or logical explanations, and these are typically a symptom of mental disorders. Below we will provide a few examples of what you can expect and then we will share tips on how to address these issues.
Delusions: Delusions can take a variety of forms. For example, your loved one might accuse someone of stealing their money, when in fact no money was ever stolen. Another example could be your loved one misinterpreting a shadow on the wall for a scary figure.
Aggression: Your loved one may become unhappy or aggressive, seemingly for no apparent reason. Often times, aggression can result from communication issues or feeling uncomfortable in their current environment.
Fear: Your loved one might become scared or upset as a result of a delusion or because of an unwanted thought.
How to Respond
One way to respond is to acknowledge their emotions, respond to the problem, and change the subject. First, acknowledging their emotions is important, even if the situation is based on a delusion, because it lets your loved one know you take their concern seriously. Second, responding to the problem entails that you tell them you will try to help by either changing their environment or merely responding to a false claim based on a delusion. Lastly, change the subject like asking them if they want a meal/snack or ask if they could help you fold the laundry. Whatever it takes to get their mind off of the negative thought and emotions is great way to help.
Another way to respond is to change the environment. By environment, we typically mean the household, but this could also be other environments like grocery stores, as well. In the home, your loved one may react negatively in a certain room. Make sure that the room is well-lit and not casting large shadows on the wall. Perhaps there is a trigger in that room that is causing your loved one to behave negatively. It can be a good idea to move them out of the room and into another until the negative emotions subside.
If you are out, like at a store or in a hospital waiting room, your loved one might get angry because of the noise-level or the amount of unfamiliar people in the room. In this case, it is best to plan ahead. Where are some areas you could take your loved one to calm down? Would it be possible to leave them home with someone you trust? Think about ways you can ensure your loved one’s comfort at all times.
If you have any more questions, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.