Managing Aggressive Behavior in People with Alzheimer’s — Without Medication

Difficult behaviors, such as agitation, aggression, are common in people with Alzheimer’s disease. “Often, more than memory loss, behavioral symptoms of dementia are among the most difficult aspects of caring for people with dementia. The symptoms are experienced almost universally, across dementia stages and causes,” according to Dr Helen C Kales, head of the University of Michigan Program for Positive Aging and Geriatric Psychiatry These behaviors are often managed with psychiatric drugs, such as antipsychotics. However, while a pharmacological approaches may be simple, they are not necessarily in the best interest of the patient.

 

Dr Kales is the lead author of a paper in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The research convened a multidisciplinary expert panel to devise recommendations of non-pharmacological approaches to reduce behavioral issues by addressing the situations that trigger them. This comprehensive behavioral management approach has the acronym DICE, which stands for Describe, Investigate, Evaluate, and Create.

“Often, more than memory loss, behavioral symptoms of dementia are among the most difficult aspects of caring for people with dementia.”
Dr Helen C Kales, head of the University of Michigan Program for Positive Aging and Geriatric Psychiatry

The approach is as follows:

DESCRIBE the situations in which the problem behaviors occur.

INVESTIGATE the general health status, as well as the sleep habits and medications of the person with Alzheimer’s, and consider how they might interact with the physical and social context discovered in the Describe stage.

CREATE a plan to adapt the environment and activities of the person with Alzheimer’s in order to minimize — and, possibly prevent — these behavioral issues. Creating a support plan for the caregiver is another important step in the Create stage, since caregivers also suffer from these distressing behaviors.

EVALUATE how the plan is working, and adapt it in order to improve it.

By focusing closely on these steps, and revising it in order to optimize it and adapt it to changing needs, many people with Alzheimer’s are able to control behavioral symptoms without resorting to potent psychiatric medication.

Being able to use nonpharmacological treatment, however, requires a health team that is specially trained in their use. At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, we provide care that is specifically designed to address the needs of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive disorders.

We have created a unique environment and care program specifically designed to address the needs of this population. Our Alzheimer’s Unit is situated in a separate, secure wing to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents. It offers a structured daily routine, mind-stimulating activities, excellent social interaction, with optimal patient independence in a calm and soothing atmosphere.

Read our reviews on caring.com, wellness.com, and senioradvisor.com to hear what our residents and their families have to say.

Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.

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