These are often just a few of the words used to describe the distress commonly shown by people with dementia.

Combative, Agitated, Difficult, Anxious

Unfortunately, the all-too-common action taken by family and physicians is to try to treat the behavior with medications. It is rarely understood that these medications do not actually address anything but more likely cause other side effects and begin a vicious circle of problems.

Behavior is communication, not a disease.

The KEY to preventing the distress, it turns out, is to use the behaviors and other information as a means to identify and resolve the root causes of the anguish.

Dementia diminishes a person’s ability to communicate verbally, so people with this condition of tend to compensate by communicating behaviorally.

In the Assisted Living environment, the staff are guided by the physician’s recommendations and the family’s desires. Sometimes, mis-educated, the dementia living communities may resort to medication.  Rather than drugging residents to suppress the behaviors, we must try to figure out what the behaviors mean.

More studies are showing that drugs are not needed to prevent or treat challenging behaviors. When a caregiver knows the residents, their needs and preferences well enough that they can prevent or diminish distress before it becomes a big problem. This type of personal treatment shows that behaviors aren’t so challenging when residents are comfortable, live in a pleasant environment, get timely medical care and are supported by well-trained caregivers who care about them.

Unfortunately, in our society today this may be difficult to find.

When visiting an assisted living dementia care community is important to ask overtly questions about this subject of medicating as a solution to a behavior issue and observe the responses.  We DO NOT take for granted that the marketing material from a community or home will state that they will care for our senior in the best way possible, those materials are words on a page.  We HAVE TO ask the staff that directly interact with the potential resident how they would address certain situations; behaviors, agitation, confusion, etc.

When we (American Senior Home Finders) are looking for an appropriate assisted living home or community we strive to find those places that will work with the elderly resident in helping solve these “behavioral” situations with means other than medicating. 

We will work long and hard to help you find that right place.

You can access this reference guide below
Toxic Medicine: What You Should Know to Fight the Misuse of Psychoactive Drugs in Nursing Homes