People coping with Alzheimer’s disease can sometimes become agitated or aggressive as the disease progresses. Agitation often means that a person is restless or worried. This may present itself as pacing, sleeplessness, or aggression. Aggression can be both verbal and physical.
Most of the time agitation and aggression will happen for a reason. When it happens, try to identify what is triggering the behavior. If you are able to address the underlying cause of the behavior you may be able to reduce or avoid incidents all together. Unfortunately, a person with Alzheimer’s may not be able to communicate their needs well so here are a few things you should look for:
Watch for early signs of agitation. If you see the signs, you can deal with the cause before problem behaviors start. Try not to ignore the problem. Doing nothing can cause the issues to escalate.
Here are a few ways you can address agitation or aggressive behavior:
1. Reassure the person by Speaking calmly.
2. Listen to their concerns and frustrations.
3. Try to show that you understand if they are angry or scared.
4. Allow the person to keep as much control in their life as possible.
5. Try to keep a routine by bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time everyday.
6. Try soothing music, reading, or going for a walk.
7. Reduce noise.
8. Reduce the number of people in the room.
9. Try to redirect the person with a favorite snack, object, or activity.
10. Limit the amount of caffeine and sugar.
Also consider visiting a doctor. He or she can give the person an exam to find any problems that may not be readily apparent. You may also want to ask about depression and find out if medicine is needed to prevent or reduce incidents.
Coping with agitation and aggression can be exhausting, not just for your loved one but for you as well. It’s essential that you also take care of yourself. You’ll be in a better position to give your loved one the patience and support they need when you’re rested and healthy. If you are feeling overwhelmed ask other family members or friends to step in so you can take a break. You can also explore respite care and other professional support services, which can help you take time out from your caregiving duties.
For many people considering assisted living the concern over what to do with a beloved pet may weigh heavily on the decision-making process. Luckily enough many assisted living communities welcome your furry friends. Pet policies will vary slightly from community to community but here are a few things they will be looking at.
Health and wellness: It is no surprise that an assisted living community will take health into consideration. You will likely need to present examination and immunization records from a licensed veterinarian. The vet will need to verify that your pet is free of any diseases that could be transmissible to humans or other animals in the community.
Size: Many communities will limit the size of dogs they will allow. 35 pounds seems to be a common cutoff point, but this is not a hard and fast rule in all assisted living communities.
Demeanor: You pet will likely need an assessment from a staff member to consider your pets overall behavior. Aggressive tendencies such as growling or nipping at a person could be a deal breaker. Also excessive noise such as barking, howling or in the case of a bird, squawking could disturb other residents and might result in an eviction notice for your pet.
Age and training: Most communities require that dogs and cats be at least one year old and be house broken or litter trained.
As is the case for pet owners anywhere there are a number of other questions and responsibilities to consider:
Is there an additional pet deposit? If so, is it refundable?
Is there an additional monthly fee?
Who will care for the pet if your health declines or you are away from the community for an extended period of time such as a vacation or hospital stay?
Has your pet become accustomed to coming and going through a pet door? If so will your pet be able to adjust to going outside with you while on a leash?
Can you still adequately care for the pet? Some communities are able to assist with pet care in a limited capacity. Ask what they will be able to assist with and if that will suite the needs of you and your pet.
There are numerous benefits of pet ownership, especially for seniors. Those who miss a spouse or friends who have passed or who are generally depressed or lonely can find joy in the companionship and love of a pet. Pets require exercise and can encourage seniors to be more active which can keep their muscles, bones, joints, and minds healthy. They can also reduce boredom and keep residents engaged. The companionship can contribute a lot to happiness which can easily contribute to overall health and wellness. So if you are considering assisted living consider bringing a furry friend!
You can’t anticipate every problem, but go through the house room by room and check for hazards, while thinking of your loves ones current physical and cognitive limits. It is often easier to change a space than to change a person. Some things you can probably take care of right away, Some may require more work and planning. For example, think about:
Sometimes it can be helpful having a professional available to help with an aging relative. A Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) is usually a professional who has worked in the senior living industry for many years. Families hire a CSA to evaluate and assess a senior’s needs and to coordinate care through community resources. The cost of an initial evaluation varies and may be expensive but depending on your family circumstances a CSA may offer a useful service.
The Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) is the leading certification for professionals serving older adults, and is a designation awarded only to qualified individuals. Earning the CSA certification requires individuals to pass a rigorous exam and to uphold the highest ethical standards for the benefit and protection of the health and welfare of seniors. CSAs are multidisciplinary professionals who have demonstrated advanced knowledge in the multiple processes of aging.
A CSA is there to help you and your family to identify needs and find ways to meet your needs. These professionals can also help by leading family discussions about sensitive subjects. If you are seeking the advice of any senior advisor, you probably have a lot of questions however there is one question you should always ask first; Are you a fiduciary?
A fiduciary is a person or organization that acts on behalf of another person. While often associated with finance there are several other roles that a fiduciary may fulfill. Money managers, financial advisors, trustees, accountants, executors, board members, corporate officers and Certified Senior Advisors (CSA) all have fiduciary responsibility. Acting in a fiduciary capacity requires that the person put the needs of their client ahead of all other considerations. This is the highest legal duty of one person to another, being a fiduciary requires being bound ethically to act in the other's best interests.
When interviewing a CSA you might want to ask:
Making critical decisions for yourself or a loved one can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to discuss your preferences in advance. A CSA will be able to assist with planning for your Legal, Medical, Financial and Personal needs, giving a person peace of mind. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance you can contact me here.
Ty Strahl is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) based in Spokane Washington. Her job is to help navigate the many aspects of aging and to help seniors who are in transition to find the right solutions for their individual needs.