Responsive Behaviors

Healthcare and society has slowly begun to move past the traditional terms once used to describe behaviors in dementia/major neurocognitive disorder. Although negative terms like “Aggressive,””Delusional,” and “Agitated” unfortunately still get passed around, we are now shifting towards more understanding terminology like “Responsive Behaviors” and “Stage Congruent Responsive Behaviors.” It is important to focus on the person exhibiting the behavior and work on understanding why they are expressing this behavior. What is the person responding to? How can the situation be changed to ease the person? There are some great blogs to learn from, where advocates like Mary Beth Wighton and Kate Swaffer share their experiences as people living with dementia.

A strong blog was recently published by Mary Beth titled “Breaking the Law”, where she described her physical response to a frustrating experience at a computer store. It is these experiences and many others that the focus needs to be on the situation and what is causing the behavior, rather than dismissing the message behind the behavior just because the person exhibiting it has a dementia diagnosis. As Mary Beth put it:

You may be asking yourself, why I would write about such a terrible thing. If I don’t write about it, how will you know? How will you know our behaviours have meaning? Look past the stigma and learn why this happens. And that is why I choose to write about it.

– Mary Beth Wighton 2015

You can find more stimulating articles like these at the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP), which frequently posts blogs written by Mary Beth and other partners living with dementia.

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