When the elderly start behaving indifferently, they become a nightmare for their caretakers. Elders who continue to live life as usual become the buffer in the household on which the entire house depends. But as many people age, their bodies fail and they suffer from various diseases. Their loss of abilities, combined with a lot of social and psychiatric stimuli, like fear for example, can drive them to extremes of behavior which can perplex and frustrate people around them. But all is not lost and the situation can be rescued with patience, compassion and a lot of understanding. If you are facing difficulty due to the non cooperative and hostile behavior of the elderly under your care, then you must read the following to get a better understanding of the why, how and what of this problem.
When the elderly adopt an antagonistic stance towards those near them, then they display a pattern in their behavior which can be studied to identify the root cause. Here is a summary of the patterns.
Some of the problematic behavior seen in the elderly:
* An agitate state that persist for a long time. This is accompanied by a verbal barrage of strong words and sometimes a foul language that can test one’s patience.
* Constantly complaining about things, even picking up fights over trivial matters.
* A withdrawal from any form of interaction. Example; people who were very social may become aloof and cut all forms of communication.
* Some elderly people may cling to their children or anyone close to them, asking them to just be there with them. This kind of clinging behavior can cause revulsion about them.
* Adopting a non cooperative stance. This can be directed towards the members of the family, their caretakers and even the nurse who attends to their needs.
* Feigning sickness or weakness to get attention and emotional support.
* Purposefully leading a disorganized life, chaos and keeping their surroundings untidy.
* Forgetfulness, more commonly known as short term memory loss. They may forget where or who they are or may forget who you are. Getting lost in traffic or in the market becomes common. They lose things easily.
* They refuse any form of medical assistance and may be aggressive towards their nurse or the members of the household.
* Not cooperate with other members of the house.
* Ignoring food for long periods even if they are weak or ill.
* Repeating what they say or repeatedly doing the same things. This really gets on the nerves of other members in the house and irritates them.
* An unrealistic fear or the fear of being left alone.
Some or all of these problems may be the result of several factors. These factors can be:
* Some sort of discomfort or pain in the body which they may not be able to tell or express.
* They may just want some space and time for themselves and may be bothered by the frequent questions being asked.
* They may be tired due to lack of sleep which is common during old age.
* The caregivers, the family members and the well-wishers all may be giving too many instructions and advices at once, confusing and irritating the old people. Stop, let them take some time to delve and decide what they want to do and let them tell that clearly to you. This requires patience and must not be hurried with.
* The household and the neighborhood may just be too noisy for them. Most old people just want to lead a happy peaceful trouble free retired life. Too much noise around them, which can be the result of teenagers around, may disturb them very much. The result will be an agitated state or a high level of anxiety. Let them have some peace and quite or they will resent being treated that way.
* Most people become attached to their surroundings. Old people who have become attached to their surrounding resent being moved away. They feel torn from their favorite place and will fight to keep their links. If moving is unavoidable then let them have some time to understand and explain to them clearly that they are being moved for their safety. This is common in household that are not able to take care of their elderly and move them to old age homes or retirement homes.
* Medical conditions like Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These are common in old people and they need a lot of help to deal with these.
These are some of the behavioral problems you will encounter in the elderly. But you must remember that they are not insurmountable. Like your children, your elderly too require a lot of encouragement, care and help to cope with their loss of abilities and their fears. Once that is taken care of, you will certainly see a change.