ElderLaw News — The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Behavior Problems and Dementia

Family caregivers are often surprised when their loved one with dementia develops behavior problems that have never before occurred.

Individuals with dementia may begin to wander, curse, or become easily agitated, even if the person was previously very calm and caring. A recent CNN-Health article reported that 5% to 10% of Alzheimer’s disease patients become violent at some point. In rare cases, caregivers are injured or killed by people with dementia.

There can be many possible causes for these changes in behavior, including medical issues, pain, lack of sleep, and too much noise or stimulation in the environment. In some cases, it isn’t clear why the behavior started, and the person with dementia usually cannot explain it (and often doesn’t remember doing it). It is important to consider whether the behavior is really a threat to safety, versus temporarily annoying or inconvenient.

There are strategies that can help prevent a situation from escalating to a point where it might put the person with dementia or the caregiver at risk. In the short term, trying to reduce the demands or stimulation the person is facing can help. So, if the person gets agitated while a caregiver is trying to help the person bathe or dress, backing off until the person is calmer is much better than persisting in trying to get the person to complete the task. Trying to distract the person with music, ice cream, or other pleasant treats can help to reduce fear and agitation. Trying to reduce the noise and number of people around the person can be helpful. Offering food, seeing if the person needs to use the toilet, etc., can help to relieve discomfort. It is important to use a calm tone of voice and be reassuring to the person. It will usually be helpful to avoid arguing, reasoning, or saying “no” to the person.

If there are ongoing problems with behavior, it is always a good idea first to contact the person’s physician, to see if there might be medical factors involved or if some type of medication would be appropriate.

For those emergency situations when the person seems to be at substantial risk for harming self or others, you can phone 911 or contact the Community Services Board in your locality to see if further evaluation in a psychiatric facility might be needed or appropriate.

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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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