Five Methods to Try When Elderly has Repetitive Behavior
Grandma is restlessly unpacking and packing her clothing, opening her drawer, and asking the same questions again and again. These behaviors seem tiring and pointless for the live-in caregivers and family members who are observing, but for the elderly, it isn’t. They usually do it to feel productive and busy, some elderly just don’t want to spend their remaining days at rest on the rocking chair.
There are different ways to handle repetitive behaviors: responding with emotions, giving short answers, distracting the elderly with other activities, and give redirecting activities. All these can be learned by the Indonesian caregiver or Filipino caregiver in Singapore.
Here are ways to respond to the elderly patient when he or she practices the same behaviour:
1) Responding with empathy
The elderly keep going out without notifying family members or the caregiver. This is something to worry about for the family, knowing the elderly goes out without permission repeatedly. The primary response of the family members or live-in caregivers is to prohibit the elderly from going out, locking the main door or keeping her occupied. However, we can also try to deduce the feelings that caused them to do such behaviour. If they feel distressed, the good response is a gesture of affirmation like a brief hug or a pat on the back. If loneliness pushed them to go out and wander unattended, the Indo caregiver or Filipino caregiver can respond by giving them company.
2) Validating what they said
When the elderly starts saying something that is far from reality, the live-in caregiver’s primary response is to correct them. The Indo caregiver or Filipino caregiver’s tendency is to reorient them with reality and contradict the patient’s misinterpretation of things. Instead of doing this, we can just validate their statement.
Example behaviour: The elderly patient keeps looking for her 5-year-old granddaughter, not understanding that she’s already an adult. She keeps looking for her but when her granddaughter shows up, she doesn’t recognize her. Her memory was stuck to the times when her granddaughter was still small.
How the live-in caregiver should respond: Instead of arguing with her and confronting her with the truth that she doesn’t remember, the Indo caregiver or Filipino caregiver in Singapore can simply go along with the statement and just support what she has said. It doesn’t harm anyone if the live-in caregiver responds with, ‘Yes, your little granddaughter is not around today’ Or ‘I remember you were too close when she was little’.
3) Distract the elderly
After hearing the same question for the 8th time, it must be exhausting for the live-in caregiver in Singapore to answer the question again. One way to make the patient stop repeating the question or behaviour is to distract her with another activity or a snack. What do they enjoy the most? Is it watching a show, eating puree, or playing puzzles? The Indo caregiver or Filipino caregiver can also keep the elderly occupied by encouraging him or her to be involved in easy chores they can still manage to do like organizing or folding some laundry.
Extra tip: Dementia patients can recall a memory from the distant past like her wedding day, her first child, etc. but can’t remember what she ate for breakfast that morning. When having a conversation with the elderly patient, the live-in caregiver can pick a topic from the elderly’s long-term memory. She can use her old favourite songs and photo albums to facilitate the conversation.
4) Give simpler answers
The Indo caregiver or Filipino caregiver should learn to keep her answers short and simple. Not only because the elderly can have a hard time undesrtanding her words, but also because answering the same question multiple times is quite draining. It saves energy and it reduces frustration on the caregiver’s part.
5) Cool down for a while
Sometimes, we reach our boiling point too after the patient displayed the repetitive behaviour a lot of times! When patience runs out, the live-in caregiver may ‘escape the scene’ and get a fresh air for a few minutes. It’s tough to keep your cool when you’re angry and if you stay in the same area with the patient. The live-in caregiver may only come back as soon as she has cooled off.
When taking care of an elderly patient, with dementia or none, it is important that the live-in caregiver should remain calm and patient. We hope the live-in caregiver in Singapore learned from this article!
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