Ask the Continuing Care Expert – Renee White
As individuals progress through the ever changing challenges of dementia they will experience increasing difficulty with stimulation. It is in the best interest of the individual, their family, and care givers to recognize the stimulants that affect the dementia person and eliminate the stimulants that have negative effects.
It is important to understand that individuals with dementia are ultra sensitive to stimulation and the Christmas season can be particularly challenging
There are many stimulants that affect individuals with dementia, such as noise; temperature; light; activity; sugar and caffeine. They may have negative effects from stimulants that previously brought them pleasure such as large social gatherings, coffee, chocolate, sweets etc.
Individuals with dementia will find it difficult to be in crowded and noisy places. Large gatherings, restaurants with loud music and shopping mall outings can create more anxiety than pleasure.
They may have always enjoyed a cup of coffee or a box of chocolates but now the stimulation they get from these can create anxiousness, that in turn cause negative behaviours. Avoid these stimulants by providing decaffeinated coffee or tea and give chocolate and sugar laden snacks as a rare treat and only one at a time.
Temperature changes can cause irritation, as they may no longer recognize that they need a sweater or jacket if they are cold, or to take off the sweater or jacket if they are hot. Individuals with dementia also have a tendency to layer their clothing which can affect their comfort. Laying out clothing for them can help them dress appropriately.
Excess stimulation can change the individual’s behaviour in very negative ways; causing them to become uncooperative, agitated, unapproachable, sometimes to the point of aggression.
Keeping a journal can be very effective in recognizing the stimulants that are causing the negative behaviour. For example, make a note of the sounds; air temperature; activity; fluid intake; food eaten, prior to, and after the agitation. In time you will be able to identify the stimulant causing the behaviour.
Reducing agitation will also provide a better quality of life for the individual and their family.
Call us at 403-348-0118 for more information.