Disruptive Behavior with Memory Problems

General Information
It is unfortunate but true that many elderly who are forced to become dependent on caregivers for some or all of their daily care respond with the development of patterns of disruptive behavior. This behavior may produce harm to the patient, caregiver, or others who live or work in close proximity to the patient. The disruptive behavior may cause physical harm or be emotionally trying or both. Disruptive behavior is often a root cause of a patient’s being institutionalized. As many as one fourth of nursing home patients demonstrate this sort of behavior.

Disruptive behavior may be physical. Patients may try to physically abuse others. They may direct their abuse to their physical surroundings, damaging objects, furniture, or their room. Disruptive behavior may also take the form of resistance. The patient may refuse food, medication, or other elements of health care such as intravenous lines or catheters. Verbal disruption by screaming or using abusive language is another pattern of disruptive behavior.

Important Points in Treatment
Management of disruptive behavior is important. The goal is to avoid the need to use physical or chemical restraints. Such management requires patience and perseverance to be successful. If there are known medical problems, these need to be treated. If the disruptive behavior involves resistance, careful attention must be paid to accommodate needs. Incontinence programs if optimized may forestall disruptive behavior in relationship to urination or defecation. When refusal involves food, accommodating the patient’s wishes may turn refusal into acceptance. Meet with the physician and review the patient’s medications. Some medication may be a part of the inducement of the disruptive behavior. If patients resist medications, alternative forms or another approach to management of the underlying problem may offer a solution.

Notify Our Office If ...

  • The patient begins to demonstrate recurrent or consistent disruptive behavior.