DEMENTIA – BAD BEHAVIOR AND HOLIDAYS

Children act out in the days leading up to holidays and parents shake their heads and say ” he has had too much sugar.” That may very well be true, yet children are certainly impacted by the hustle and bustle of holidays. And just as children are overwhelmed by the activities and anticipation, even more so is the elder with dementia.

However when the elder with dementia becomes angry and uncooperative, no one says “he has just had too much sugar.” And very often the solution proposed is some form of isolation, where what the elder may need is just the opposite. The elder with dementia may push family away with angry behaviors such as yelling, screaming, even pushing and at times throwing things.

There are also behaviors that are not as physical but equally as troubling such as, pacing, complaining, repeating themselves and general restlessness. What is important to remember is that the elder with dementia is not acting this way on purpose. The elder with dementia is always trying to understand his environment. Where he is, who is there, what is going on and most of all what might be expected of him.

While holidays are great is so many ways for the person with dementia, the music, colors, food, smells and decorations reinforce what is happening. The increase in  people, excitement, noise can push an already stressed elder over the edge. This is a good time for old fashion remedies. Activities that are calm, quiet and one on one.

  • a hand massage helps with anxiety, worry, sadness, and fearfulness
  • the old fashion back rub works wonderfully for those  in chronic pain or exhibiting irritability and anger
  • a foot massage provides calming for those with hyperactive behaviors, restlessness and pacing
  • massaging the forehead, temples and scalp help with tension and headaches

Added to the calming effect of the physical-therapeutic touch, some light smelling aroma, and you might be giving the best gift.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing

 

GREAT GIFT FOR THE ELDERLY WITH DEMENTIA CAN REDUCE ANXIETY

It certainly can be challenging finding a gift for the spouse, parent or grandparent with dementia. Yet you think about all the gifts you have received from this person and you want to find something really special. Something nice, well made, fun and most of all comforting. The Twiddle Cat or Dog fill the bill on all counts.

Rose had advanced dementia and had suffered a debilitating stroke years earlier. Rose was unable to walk or use her left arm. This combined with her declining vision as well as dementia left her few options for activities.  That is until she received her Twiddle Cat. Now Rose had not only something to hold, but an opportunity for visitors and staff to stop and engage her in conversation about her cat. While Rose’s right hand used to search all over her blanket for something to hold on to or do, she now could reach out for her cat.

The Twiddle Cat is made in the shape of a muff, for the elder to put their hands into.  Activities are attached to the muff to give the elder some variety of things to hold, beads, ribbons, items that are easy for old fingers to hold onto.

Rose took to her cat from the moment he was put into her anxious arms. She called him “Chuck” after a cat she had had as a child. Soon Rose and Chuck were inseparable.  Instead of being known in the nursing home, for always calling out for help, the staff now knew Rose as the lady with that cute little cat, Chuck.  Rose was less anxious       and was calling out for help, less and less often. She was just too busy now, now that she had Chuck.

The Twiddle Cat is made of a soft comforting fabric that launders beautifully. The muff provides a place to keep old hands warm, while the attached items give the elder something to twiddle with, entertaining the hands. The muff being a cat or dog is appropriate and provides a welcome distraction for the elderly man or woman.

The Twiddle Cat, something really special for the holidays.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing