Dementia and Bad Behaviors and Strange and Obsessive Behaviors Con’t…
Last week we talked about the first 5 “Bad Behaviors” seniors sometimes have once they have been diagnosed with Dementia, today we will be discussing the other 5 which are “Strange and Obsessive Behaviors”. According to Aging.com here are some behaviors and ways to redirect the behavior:
Bad Behavior #6: Strange Obsessions
Saving tissues, worrying if its time to take their meds, constantly picking at their skin, hypochondria…these types of obsessive behaviors disrupt the daily lives of elderly parents and their caregivers. Obsession is sometimes related to an addictive personality, or a past history of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
What to do:
View your parent’s obsessive-compulsive behaviors as a symptom, not a character flaw.
Watch for signs that certain events trigger your parent’s obsession. If the obsession seems to be related to a specific event or activity, avoid it as much as possible.
Do not participate in your parent’s obsessions. If you have helped with rituals in the past, change this pattern immediately. Family and friends must resist helping with ritual behaviors.
Obsessive behavior can be related to a number of other disorders, including anxiety, depression or dementia. Obsessive disorders can be treated by mental health professionals, so make an appointment on your parent’s behalf. Therapy and/or medication may be the answer. Look into therapy groups, outpatient and inpatient programs in your area.
Bad Behavior #7: Hoarding
When an elderly parent hoards (acquiring and failing to throw out a large number of items), once again the on-set of Alzheimer’s or dementia could be at fault. Someone’s pre-Alzheimer’s personality may trigger hoarding behavior at the onset of the disease.
For example, an elderly parent who was already prone to experiencing anxiety, when faced with aging and the possibility of outliving their resources, may begin to collect and save against the onslaught of feeling overwhelmed by what lies ahead.
Others will hold on to items because they fear their memories will be lost without that tangible evidence of the past.
What to do:
You can try to reason, and even talk about items to throw out and give away. Or create a memory box, a place to keep “special things.” With extreme hoarders, medication and family counseling could make a big difference in how you cope and manage.
Bad Behavior #8: Refusing to Let Outside Caregivers into Their House
The presence of an outsider suggests to the elder that their family can’t (or doesn’t want to) take care of their needs. It also magnifies the extent of the elders’ care needs and makes them feel vulnerable.
What to do:
Constant reassurance is necessary. Understanding the elder’s fear and vulnerability is necessary in order for you to cope with this problem. Have serious talks with them, and realize the first time may not work. It could take several months convince them.
Another strategy is to start small, and ask your parent to “give it a try.” Present the idea to your elderly parent as a trial. Have someone come in for one day a week for a few hours, just to vacuum, take out the trash or wash clothes. Experienced senior care agencies know how to handle situations like this, so consult them when necessary. Once they get used to having someone in the house, they may be fine with it.
Bad Behavior #9: Over-Spending or Extreme Frugalness
Some caregivers are pulling out their hair over elderly mother or father’s shopaholic habits. Others are going crazy over “frugal,” “thrifty,” or downright cheap elderly parents.
The ability to handle one’s own money is about power and independence. If age or disease takes away some of your independence in other areas, a person is apt to try to make up for this loss in another way.
Spending is one of those ways. Spending (or saving) can help a person feel powerful. Spending (or saving) also can be like a drug to cover up the fear underneath those losses.
What to do:
The parents will insist there is no problem. It’s their money and they can spend it as they choose. They do have a right, to an extent, to spend their money as they see fit.
For over-spenders, when their spending habits are draining the last of their finances, or forcing others to cover expenses they should be paying for themselves, it’s time to step in. If you can show them the problem in black and white – the total amount spent on shopping, or receipts that others have spent on their care, such as food and medications – it might hit home.
As with so many tricky areas with aging parents, sometimes a third party is best brought in. The key is this person, be it a financial professional, a friend, or a spiritual leader, is not the adult child.
Money hoarders may have these behaviors as a result of having lived through the Great Depression, a down economy, past job loss and countless other situations in which money was virtually non-existent. They feared “going broke” and being able to take care of their family. However, they likely don’t want to see a family member go through the financial hardships either. Showing them the out-of-pocket expenses regarding their care that you must pay might help. Bringing in a financial advisor is another route to go.
Bad Behavior #10: Wants All the Caregiver’s Time and Attention
Once an adult son or daughter becomes a caregiver, their elderly parent might construe that commitment as a 24-hour full-time job. However, the caregiver has other priorities…work, family, etc. The parent becomes completely dependent on the caregiver for all physical and emotional needs, and therefore are over-demanding of your time. This is a hard transition.
What to do:
This is a time when a caregiver needs to make themselves a priority. Caregiving is stressful but when it turns into a full-time job, with a demanding parent, it is a recipe for caregiver burnout.
Don’t get lost in caring for others. Make yourself a priority. Get your parent involved in senior activities or adult day care, depending on their capabilities. They will probably go kicking and screaming, but having others to interact with combats the loneliness and makes them a bit less dependent on you. If your parent is housebound, consider a home companion to visit on a regular basis. Home companions are available through home health care agencies, churches and charitable organizations.
Dementia is a terrible disease that takes away the people we know and love, and sometimes they need additional care and you need support, and A Senior Connection is here to help. A Senior Connection works with many wonderful Assisted Living and Residential Care Homes and we would love to help you find the right compassionate, reliable, and trustworthy place to help take care of your parents, please give us a call today at 916-208-3338 and we will be happy to help.
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