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Why Do People With Alzheimerís Wander?
By Frena Gray-Davidson

(Page 1 of 5)

Don't think Alzheimer's experts know any more than you about Alzheimer's behaviors. They don't. So, your guess is as good as theirs. And, speaking as a longtime Alzheimer's dementia caregiver, frankly I think caregiver guesses are better than most other people's. So there! In my workshops, I always encourage family caregivers to guess. If the first guess seems to be wrong, guess again. Always be prepared to try something new when dealing with solving a difficult behavior.

And, by the way, itís only difficult for you, which is really worth thinking even harder about. Not that you donít matter because, of course, you do. Itís just that sometimes weíll label a behavior as difficult and then weíll fight to stop that behavior. To retrain our person. To make them learn that itís not what we want.

Boy, now thereís a way to make yourself feel crazy. When weíre specially stressed, we caregivers can get stubborn and locked into our own demands. Thatís because of the tightening up we experience as stress. Weary, grieving and overwhelmed, we just donít tend to say to ourselves, ďNow, how can I find a better way to solve this problem?Ē No, we tend to mutter between our clenched teeth, ďIf he (or she) doesnít stop doing that, Iím going to go crazy!Ē So, figuring out how to find a solution to any dementia behavior problem should be preceded by a warm scented bath, or a session at the gym, a movie you love and then your own self-consulting care plan conference.

So now letís fast-forward to that relaxed state in which you can ask yourself, ĒWhat exactly is this behavior about and how can I find a solution?Ē   People donít do things only because they have dementia. Yes, they do have short-term memory issues. And, yes, they are usually unable to do rational step-by-step thinking. Even given those two unfixable issues, people with dementia have a very wide range of possibility in the behaviors they demonstrate.

So, why is your person doing that particular thing? Thatís what you have to make guesses about. Your person is targeted on doing what will bring a desired emotional result. That you donít want them to wander is your problem. Even if you pointed out that certain things are dangerous for them, it means nothing.   Why not?  Because they donít remember what the problem was with what they did. And anyway, they feel like thatís what they want to do.  And you canít fight dementia.


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