Jun 8, 2018

Stress Intensifies Alzheimer's Disease and Challenging Behavior in Dementia Patients

It is my belief that reduction of stress can reduce the progression of memory loss in Alzheimer's patients; and, could lead to a happier, more easy to deal with, person living with dementia.

Alzheimer's Reading Room Heart
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Stress has a negative impact on our health and can make us sick.

I wonder how many Alzheimer's caregivers know that scientific research indicates that stress can lead to an increased build up of nuerotoxic beta amyloid in Alzheimer's patients?

This research and this new understanding of Alzheimer's had a major impact on the way(s) I decided to deal with and care for my mother, Dotty.

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When I first started caring for Dotty, it became clear to me that any little thing could trigger her anger and angst.

Dotty's greatest fear was that she was going to be put into a "home". In fact, this was her greatest life long fear.

Have you ever taken the time to think about what worries your loved one, or if they have fears over which they have little or no control?

Could this be a source of their unruly behavior?

We all learn as caregivers that stress, fear, and confusion can cause the deeply forgetful to become challenging in their behavior.

I did focus on stress reduction as a way of improving Dotty's life while I was caring for her.

I was always striving to create an environment that was free of confusion and full of communication and understanding.

I worked on this every single day while I was caring for my mother.

One thing is certain.

Over time, the look on Dotty's face changed. She seemed happier and more content. Everyone around us, and even the readers on the Alzheimer's Reading Room noticed this.

As a result, I concluded that the build up of stress and confusion in Dotty, before she was diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's, was the major cause of her difficult, challenging behavior.

In other words, she had so much stress and was so confused that it was easy for her to become mean and harsh. Almost anything could set her off.

Over time through stress reduction her negative behaviors were lessened until they were greatly diminished.

I think you might benefit by asking yourself:

is the person I am caring for confused? Are they in their own way stressed out?

Is this confusion and stress the source of many of our problems; and, is this one of the reasons while we seem to find it so hard to communicate?

What I did while caring for Dotty was develop a daily routine to stabilize our life at home.

By routine I mean we did the kinds of things over and over that I thought would give Dotty (and me, the caregiver) the opportunity to live our lives effectively.

I also started to reassure Dotty over and over that she was safe, and that I intended to take care of her -- no matter what.

We all feel happier and more secure when we receive the kind of reassurance we can believe in.

Good, high quality reassurance includes not only words but touching, hugging, and attachment.

Both verbal and non-verbal communication.

Why not take some time to think about the level of stress in your current living environment?

Are you feeling stress? Is your loved one stressed out?

If so, it is time to focus on methods to reduce that stress and remove it from the living environment?

It is my belief that the reduction of stress might reduce the progress of memory loss in Alzheimer's disease patients; and, could lead to a happier, more easy to deal with, person living with dementia.

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Are you at wits end? Having the same problems over and over? Are you ready to try something new? Why not familiarize yourself with our Alzheimer's Knowledge Base.

Need Help? Search Our Award Winning Knowledge Base for Answers to Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized expert, writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

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*** Empathy the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

*** Compassion a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate their suffering.

*** Purpose the reason for which something is done or for which something exists. Having as one's intention or objective.

*** Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well being defined by positive emotions ranging from contentment to joy. Happy mental states also reflect judgement by a person about their overall well being.

*** Hug an act of holding someone tightly in one's arms to express affection, caring, and understanding.