Distraction and Substitution is Key to Alzheimer’s Behavior Issues

October 6, 2009 at 7:44 pm Leave a comment

Alzheimer’s behavior issues is one of the toughest parts of the disease. Many people with Alzheimer’s are agitated easily. They may startle, scream, bite, kick, run, or hit–and that’s when caregivers find themselves at a loss to what to do. It’s also the number one reason why families place their loved ones in a care home. But there are certain techniques that can really help both you and your care partner avoid a complete meltdown.

Geriatric and Alzheimer’s specialists use what they call the distraction and substitution methods:

  • If your loved one with Alzheimer’s becomes agitated or fixates on something you don’t want them to, (sexual behavior, taking things, holding onto you) then try distracting them. Change the subject, wheel them or guide them to different room, even outside if it’s safe, or get someone else to talk to them in order to break their concentration or fixation.
  • After the distraction, or as a part of it, substitute one object for another. If, for example, your loved one took someone else’s watch, offer them yours, or offer a cookie or a flower–anything that causes them to open their hand voluntarily so you can remove the object they shouldn’t have.  You can’t always use food because many Alzheimer’s patients don’t feel hunger all that often, so it’s not enticing. You may even keep “toys” or other found objects you know they like so you have something to distract them with.

You’ll have to find what system works best for you, what distraction and substitutions entice them. Nothing will work forever, but even a few weeks of relative peace is a gift for a frazzled caregiver.


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Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving.

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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