About 70,000 people in Kentucky have Alzheimer’s disease, and 271,000 caregivers are facing strange behaviors that they may not know how to deal with, including wandering, hallucinations, paranoia, aggression, shadowing and the exaggerated use of curse words.
What caregivers don’t always understand is that these behaviors communicate messages from loved ones because of their inability to verbalize their wants, needs and feelings, and because they now have a reality all their own.
Many caregivers think their loved ones are being difficult on purpose, but in reality, they are having a very difficult time. Wandering may often communicate boredom, hunger or thirst or even a need to go to the bathroom. Sudden changes in behaviors may be linked to changes in the person’s routine or to an infection.
What should caregivers do? Detect and connect. What might be causing the behavior? Look at the person’s physical needs first. Once they have been ruled out, look at the environment. Has the person’s routine changed? Is the person overstimulated, or not stimulated enough? What are their emotional needs?
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A class on such behaviors will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 27 at the Beaumont Branch Library on Fieldstone Way. To register, call the Alzheimer’s Association helpline, 1-800- 272-3900.