Mar 3, 2011

There is a Reason Behind Their Behavior

One thing I’ve learned in 20 years of working with people who have late on-set Alzheimer’s disease is that there is a reason behind their behavior.

By Vicki de Klerk-Rubin

I talked to a woman who just had visited her mother in a nursing facility, the ‘Alzheimer’s floor’.

She argued with the floor aide, “I don’t want my mother carrying that silly doll around. She’s an adult for God’s sake.”

The Frightened, Angry, Anxious, Mean Dementia Patient

I fully understood: it’s upsetting to see your mother behave so ‘childishly’. You certainly don’t want people making fun of her or thinking that she’s crazy. And on a much deeper level, you want your mother to be like she always was, not seen as a sick person suffering with dementia.

But one thing I’ve learned in 20 years of working with people who have late on-set Alzheimer’s disease is this: there is a reason behind their behavior.

This woman prided herself on being a good wife and mother to her children. It was her job and indeed, role in life.

Back in the 40s and 50s, this was less complicated than now. As she aged, letting go of that feeling of usefulness and being a productive member of society became more and more painful.

So now, in her confusion, without the social controls that she had when she was younger, she tries to be the good mother, caring for her children, remembering the time when she felt best about herself.

Vicki de Klerk-Rubin is on the Board of the Validation Training Institute and a certified Validation Master. She holds a BFA degree from Boston University, an MBA from Fordham University and is a Dutch-trained RN. Since 1989, Mrs. de Klerk has given Validation workshops, lectures and training courses throughout Europe, Japan and the U.S. For more information about Validation, please see our website, Validation Training Institute.

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Original content Vicki de Klerk-Rubin, the Alzheimer's Reading Room