July Caregivers Meeting

The July caregivers meeting [July 11th, 2009 - 2:30 - 3:30 PM] addressed the theme of “Behavioural problems in persons with dementia”. The meeting wasattended by 13 family members and ARDSI volunteers. Dr Chandrasekhar introduced the audience to the topic and discussed the main behavioral problems. Common problems brought out by the caregivers included restlessness, stress, frustration, refusal to take medicines, impaired ability to handle money and impairment in reading. Dr. Chandrasekhar gave practical suggestions to handle these problems:

The following summarizes the answers to questions:

  1. The patients are stubborn and insist on doing things in their way
    Suggestion: Try to divert them and never forcibly try to stop their work. They will become angry and frustrated. Seemingly difficult behavior tends to keep changing, and therefore that particular behavior will also change in a short time.
  2. The patient refuses to take tablets.
    Suggestion: Mix them in juices and try to give tablets in the food they like.
  3. Patient is fond of sweets and caregiver is unable to control him/her.
    Suggestion: Coercion doesn't work. Try to give sweets that are made with alternate sweetners, suitbale for diabetic patients.
  4. Incontinence and inappropriate toilet habits
    Suggestion: Toilet timings can be set approximately and based on that, the patient can be taken to the bathroom. Caregivers need to realize that quite often something in the environment such as the lack of empathy /attention in a person can be an irritant in the patient and behavior used to express this unhappiness. Just like recalcitrant child uses bad behavior to draw parents' attention, the patient too may use inappropriate urination to express dissatisfaction.
  5. Problem with money matters. The patient doesn't remember where and how he spends the money.
    Suggestion: It is better to involve the person in spending the money and assist him so that he has the satisfaction of spending the money.

Other suggestions by Dr Chandrasekhar included keeping the light on at night to provide better orientation, recognition and security. Most patients also feel more secure if there is some touch, therefore carer can keep a hand on them while sleeping so that they feel secure.

Dr. Chandrashekhar concluded by saying that dementia results in only cognitive decline but not emotional decline. A person's emotions aren't blunted, but they may have apathy. So they may not understand why someone is angry with them but they understand that they are angry and feel depressed.

The audience was also updated about forthcoming events

  1. Functional rehabilitation-one day training on august 1, from 9.00 - 5.30. Many of the attendees registered their names.
  2. Aasara, which is a senior citizen organisation is conducting a training programme for bedside attendants. Families can refer prospective attendants to AASARA or ARDSI Hyd.
  3. Tentative theme for the next second Saturday i.e. on Aug 8th – screening of the movie- “Burden of love” - a study of the nature of Alzheimer's disease, which starts with memory loss and progresses to various disabilities like loss of body control and abnormal behavior for persons above 60. This will be followed by an interactive session.

Caregivers also suggested organizing an event specifically for the benefit of the patients in the coming months.

All the attendees gave a very positive response during the interactive session. Queries regarding how to deal with behavioral problems were also answered by ARDSI volunteers.