Sometimes, disease can cause changes in a patient’s behavior. And no matter how much people try to associate this shift with the illness, one can’t help but get affected by these actions. As someone appointed to take care of them, one begs the question: how do caregivers deal with this issue?
Being a family caregiver is no easy chore. Simply because they’re providing help and care to a family member doesn’t take any weight off their shoulders. This might even unconsciously add a certain amount of pressure on the caregiver. After all, they’re providing care to someone they’re familiar with for most, if not all, of their life. They’re expected to know how to deal with them and be aware of the nuances in their behavior.
Eleanor’s guidebook for caregivers mentions the many challenges a person goes through when taking care of someone 24/7. Being in someone’s beck and call allows one to accompany them in their strongest and weakest moments. If not the demand to provide them with the appropriate care, one of the top challenges caregivers face is their patients’ changes in behavior. When you’re dealing with someone who’s not well, they can undergo behavioral changes that even their family members might not know how to deal with.
How Caregivers Typically Deal with Difficult Behaviors
When people experience a decline in their health, their mentality and grip on reality are the few things that are most affected, aside from their physical health. This brings out erratic changes in their behavior, such as catastrophic reactions, aggressiveness, paranoia, and sundowning, and others regardless of their specific illness. Various strategies and modifications have been established to manage and reduce these behaviors in patients in response to this.
If you’re providing care to a sick family member or working as a caregiver, one of the primary methods to manage behavioral change is by learning more about the disease. Doing in-depth research helps you understand and prepare for possible behavioral symptoms of the condition. Even though these may be the tip of the iceberg, changes, at least you’ll know what to expect and have a sense of control over the situation when providing care. Besides these behavioral changes, you’ll also learn of any underlying symptoms and triggers that can provide you with additional insights.
It’s helpful to take note of the patient’s reactions to their environment. This can help record possible triggers and what manages these behaviors the best. Behavioral modification is honestly a matter of trial and error and knowing what works best for them. Consistency is crucial, but you won’t know what will work out without enough observation.
Sometimes, behavioral changes are dealt with an appropriate behavioral adjustment from the caregiver. Changing how you interact with the patient is enough to keep their challenging behaviors under control. Again, this is a hit-or-miss opportunity; thus, not every method you try will elicit a positive response.
For instance, you can try to adjust the tone and pitch of your voice to convey different strengths in command and control. Since some people positively react to calmness, you can lower your pitch and speak low and slowly. But others may obey authoritative figures more. Hence, you can adjust your speech and speak with a more commanding voice. In line with speech, you can also change your body language according to what draws a positive response from them.
Sometimes these behavioral changes are triggered by the patient’s environment. When you’re ill, your environment plays a significant part in your behavior, and any subtle changes might bring out a negative behavior such as paranoia. Thus, it’s important to avoid changes or keep them minimal. In their condition, it’s best to give these people a sense of control in any aspect of their lives. Besides keeping their surroundings constant, you can also help them establish a routine. This helps keep them occupied and drive out any negative thoughts about their condition, which might also act as a trigger that draws out a problematic behavior as a response.
Managing challenging behaviors can be physically and mentally draining. It takes a lot of patience not to take their actions personally and for them to not affect your service. Remind yourself that these behaviors aren’t intentional. The patient can’t control them. Hence, it would help if you tried separating these behaviors from the person. This way, you can still provide them with appropriate care for their condition. Be a little more considerate and understanding toward your patients, regardless of their relationship.