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Alzheimer's: Dealing with Difficult Behavior
By J B Buckley

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Feeling discomfort can sometimes not be conveyed by your loved-one depending upon the severity of the disease but it can cause eating and sleeping disturbances. Frequently monitor your loved-one’s room temperature, lighting, noise level, and chair or bed position. If you think your loved-one’s medications could be curbing his or her appetite or ability to sleep, speak to their doctor about changing or eliminating prescriptions.

Pain can be a factor in eating or sleeping disturbances. Again, sometimes a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia cannot express their feelings; if you sense a change in appetite or sleeping pattern has suddenly occurred without due cause, set an appointment for a medical examination. Dehydration is a known factor of sleeping and eating disturbances. Make sure your loved-one is drinking plenty of water. Place a pitcher filled with water near your loved-one at all times. Remind them it is there frequently and check to make sure it remains somewhat full. Too full can result in another problem- slip and falls.

If you feel your loved-one is showing signs of depression, have him or her evaluated by their physician. Anti-depressants or bedtime sedatives may be a productive treatment option. Depression can also cause excessive sleeping or eating. In which case, increase their exposure to light and reduce or eliminate nap time or snack time.

Behavioral problems are defined as patient responses, which are considered noxious to staff, other patients, the patient himself, or family (Burgio, Jones, Butler, & Engel, l988). Behavioral problems have a profound impact on quality of care, staff, morale and the day-to-day operation of the long-term care institution


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