Caring for an older adult with dementia is full of challenges. The disease can cause all kinds of difficult behaviors that present challenges to caregivers. One of the behaviors dementia can cause is screaming and crying. The older adult might call out for help or cry for hours.
Unfortunately, this behavior can be particularly frustrating because, of course, you don’t want your older family member to be in distress, yet they cannot tell you what is wrong. Though you may feel for the senior, listening to them cry or yell can also be irritating to caregivers, especially if they don’t know what to do about it.
While different people respond to different things, below are some ideas to try that may help when your loved one is screaming or crying.
Understand the Cause
Knowing the cause of your aging relative’s outburst may help you to react to it appropriately. Some things that can lead to crying or yelling in dementia patients are:
- Being afraid.
- Pain or discomfort.
- Trying to tell you they need something, like a drink or food.
- Feeling sad or lonely.
If the behavior is caused by a need or by being uncomfortable, you may be able to take care of the problem and make the behavior stop. Even if you cannot determine the cause of the behavior, just knowing that it is a symptom and not a personal reaction to you may help you to stay calm.
Provide Clear Instructions and Explain What is Happening
Sometimes screaming and crying occurs because the senior is confused or frightened by what is happening. For example, you may be trying to help them undress to get ready for bed, but they don’t understand why. Talk to the senior as you do things and include them. Be clear about why you want them to change their clothes or go with you to another room.
Help the Older Adult to Stay Active
People with dementia have the same needs as anyone else. They need exercise to use up excess energy and things to do that stimulate and interest them. Preventing boredom can be one of the key components to reducing unwanted behaviors. Try simplifying some household tasks so that the older adult can be involved and feel like a productive member of the household. Also, offer them ways to use their creativity, such as painting, drawing, or making crafts.
While tips like these may help to reduce challenging behaviors, sometimes it’s just not possible to avoid them completely. Coping with dementia in an aging relative is hard and what many caregivers really need is someone to help. Home care provides compassionate care to older adults, allowing family members to take a break when they need to. Home care providers are adept at working with older adults to keep them happy, safe, and comfortable. Home care agencies do their best to match clients up with staff members who have the particular skills and experience needed.