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How caregivers can deal with behavioral changes of loved ones with dementia

There is ample research to suggest that family caregivers are more distressed by behavioral problems and changes in the personality of their loved ones than by their physical disabilities. For instance, while it may prove challenging for family members to physically pick up the body of a loved one who has suffered a stroke and has physical limitations, matters are made even more difficult if the loved one is resisting the caregivers’ offers to help, or accusing them of mistreating him or her, due to dementia.

In order to support their endeavors to care for loved ones, caregivers need and deserve recognition and appreciation. However, loved ones who are beset by cognitive and behavioral problems are frequently lacking in the ability to express their gratitude.

There are methods that family caregivers can apply in order to handle their loved ones’ conduct more effectively. Individuals with cognitive and behavioral issues frequently have sensitivity to such stimuli as environmental changes, such as light, noise, temperature and social activity. Become familiar with your family members’ triggers, and take steps to avoid placing them under any undue stress, thus reducing the likelihood that they will become upset.

Because people with behavioral and cognitive problems have a higher sensitivity to anger on the part of caregivers, it is imperative that you maintain your composure when communicating with them. Your capacity to remain calm will have a soothing effect on them. It is also recommended that you take your family member to the doctor on a regular basis for medical evaluations to treat all potential causes of changes in behavior.

Finally, remember that caregivers need care too. Since caring for family members with difficult behaviors can be stressful, it is important for you to have others assume your role periodically in order to give yourself a much-needed break.

The elder law attorneys at Hook Law Center assist Virginia families with will preparation, trust & estate administration, guardianships and conservatorships, long-term care planning, special needs planning, veterans benefits, and more. To learn more, visit or call 757-399-7506.

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