Behavioral problems in the context of dementia - a completely underrated disease picture. Today, more than 1.2 million Germans suffer from dementia. 800, 000 of them have serious behavioral problems, such as aggression in words and actions, sudden changes of mood, mistrust of family members, restless running around at night. As the number of elderly grows rapidly, experts predict that dementia rates will rise to 2.3 million in 2030. This also means that there are more affected relatives who have to deal with this disease and its high level of suffering. Senile dementia is thus the health and socio-political topic of the future.
Dementia - a burden for all
In Germany, the behavioral problems are given too little attention. Often the "grumpy" behavior of the elderly is excused with the increasing age of the patient and dismissed as "normal." The fact that an independent clinical picture hides behind aggression, restlessness, mistrust, ranting and screaming is still largely unknown in Germany. In England and the US these symptoms are already understood as illness and the patients are treated accordingly. It is to be hoped that this rethinking process will be set in motion in Germany in the future as well.
The gradual progressive loss of cognitive performance and thinking is one side of dementia. The symptoms, most commonly known as Alzheimer's disease, are on their own an almost unbearable burden on the family, having to watch how a loved one mentally falls more and more before their eyes, can no longer self-determined react and increasingly dependent on the help of others.
Behavioral disorders often break families
But dementia is a "Janus-headed" disease: Even more serious are the dementia-related behavioral changes that most affect family living together. When a loved one suddenly reacts aggressively, suspiciously, and hostilely to his closest relatives, when he develops delusions, the already tedious care is further complicated by the enormous emotional burden.
Often these behavioral changes are the reason for a home admission and thus the ripping out of the patient from his familiar environment, with the result that uncertainty, aggression and helplessness are intensified.
The most common behavioral disorders are:
Restlessness / wandering / restlessness: This is a typical phenomenon in dementia patients. Changes in the drive are often the first sign of brain disorders. Those affected are driven by an inner unrest, they want to do something continuously, but without knowing what they wanted to do. They walk around, forgetting what they want to do and starting another activity.
Disturbed sleep / wake rhythm: Many dementia suffer from sleep disorders. They walk in the dark in the night. The relatives can not sleep because of fear and concern about accidents and injuries. In contrast to those affected who sleep during the day, they can no longer catch up on their sleep.
Aggression and anger Demented behave often - for the relatives for no apparent reason - aggressive, and not only with words, but also with deeds. This behavior is usually triggered by fear or anger, in order to ask something that is natural for him.
Mistrust and hostility: Dementia patients suddenly distrust their friends, acquaintances and relatives, they are hostile and hostile to them. Even the closest relatives, for example, are suspected of stealing something to have "stolen" them.
Dejection and depression: Depressed moods are very common - caused by mental degeneration. Many of those affected notice that "something" is wrong with them. They are no longer able to cope with their environment and know very well that they depend on the help of others. This makes them depressed and sad, without them being able to change their condition.
Hallucinations / delusions: Dementia sufferers often have hallucinations, meaning they see something that does not exist, they hear voices and sounds that are not there, or they smell something that the family can not perceive. Many sufferers also suffer from delusions: they accuse their relatives of theft, they feel stalked by strangers and do not recognize themselves in the mirror themselves and believe that a stranger is facing them.
Pay attention to the first warning signs
In particular, the behavioral problems usually show up two to three years before the diagnosis "dementia" is made. Often, the behavioral disorders are dismissed as "normal" side effects of getting older, while they are the first warning of a possible imminent dementia. The sooner dementia is diagnosed, the sooner adequate treatment can be initiated. And here the relatives are required. As soon as you notice the first signs of a change in behavior, you should visit the family doctor with the affected person, who can get the diagnosis with simple tests.
Even if this is often difficult, as the affected person usually lacks the insight into the disease, you should insist on the doctor's visit. Even in their own interest, because even if it is not yet possible to cure dementia, so symptoms such as aggressiveness, mistrust, disturbed sleep-wakefulness, etc. but effectively mitigated or even eliminated. As a result, the therapy gives the affected person the opportunity to influence their life plans as long as they are mentally capable of doing so.