The process of aging can have many unusual effects on a senior’s character and behavior. Dementia can result in complete personality changes, but even a mentally healthy senior’s personality can be altered by physical pain or a changing outlook on life. If you have a parent who is currently undergoing negative behavioral changes, use the following tips to make his or her situation more manageable.
1. Find Potential Triggers
Many seniors develop sudden tantrums or bad behavior due to an underlying trigger that might not be noticeable at first. It may be helpful to ignore your parent’s actions or complaints and instead look at his or her environment. In many cases, seniors act up because they are hungry, tired, cold, or overwhelmed by contact with strangers. By removing these triggers, you can stop future behavioral changes before they begin.
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2. Provide Distractions
When your parent gets upset about a problem you cannot solve, distraction may be the best solution. Acknowledge that your loved one is upset and offer sympathy for his or her feelings before quickly moving on to a new subject. Try asking your loved one for help with another task, suggesting moving to a new location, eating a meal, or taking part in a hobby. This strategy may be particularly helpful if your parent has dementia, but it can also work on seniors who act out for other reasons.
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3. Keep Everything Structured
In many situations, seniors change their behavior as a reaction to changes in their routine and surroundings. If possible, try to stick to a normal schedule and always keep toiletries, food, and other personal belongings in the same place. Maintaining structure provides a sense of security and reassurance that can reverse or halt behavioral issues.
4. Remain Calm
When managing a behavioral change, acting mad, upset, or irritated is the worst thing you can do. Even seniors with dementia can sense a negative reaction, which could exacerbate behavioral issues. It can be difficult to stay calm in frustrating situations, so it may be wise to excuse yourself and move to another room until you can relax. Try to talk to your parent in a low and soothing voice.
5. Keep Your Parent Safe without Being Controlling
Even if you do not necessarily agree with or approve of the behavior, remember you are there to take care of your parent, not judge or control him or her. If a behavior like sleeping on the floor or only wearing blue clothing is not harming anything, do not try to force your loved one to stop the behavior. Accommodating your loved one may make your life a lot easier even if it seems a bit bizarre.
If your loved one needs emotional support while aging in place, consider hiring a professional caregiver. In Wellesley, elderly home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your elderly loved one, give us a call at (781) 239-0060 today.