I discovered through personal experience, research and observation that people living with dementia (PLWD) behave in logical, natural and understandable ways to stressful situations, just like most of the rest of us do. Although they react as any “normal” person would, their behaviour is more often than not mistakenly attributed to the disease rather than to whatever catalyst actually sparked it.
People living with dementia are people; they respond normally when they are threatened, demeaned and made to feel powerless: they resist, lash out, become agitated or try to flee. Blaming the disease leads us in the wrong direction. What we should be doing is asking ourselves questions to reset the compass ; questions such as:
Too many people with dementia end up needlessly medicated for behavioural expressions that are provoked by the environment and the people around them, including paid care workers and family members such as myself who are drafted into caregiving roles with little or no experience or training.
By questioning and reframing, I believe we can transform the way we see dementia and the people who live with it; we can also find ways to deliver better care. Specifically with respect to the issue of aggression, putting ourselves in the place of PLWD will help us discover what might underly behaviour we find challenging or problematic. We can then address the underlying causes instead of inappropriately prescribing antipsychotic medications.