Living with dementia

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Why restraints are used

Understanding the behaviours associated with dementia can help you choose alternatives to the use of restraints. Dementia will cause changes in the way people react and respond to situations. These reactions may be the only way the person can communicate and may be caused by any of the following:

  • The disease process: As the disease affects different areas of the brain, certain abilities will be lost. Once lost, they can rarely be relearned. People may also experience depression, delusions (false beliefs about someone or something) or delirium (intense episodes of confusion). These may lead to the person responding with behaviours that caregivers find difficult to understand.

  • Lost communication skills: A person may no longer be able to express basic needs, such as the need to eat, drink, sleep or use the toilet.

  • Physical discomfort: There may be a physical problem. A person could be too cold, too hot, in pain or ill.

  • Inability to interpret the environment: A person may no longer recognize physical surroundings and may get lost, or not understand what to do in a particular setting, for example, using the toilet.

  • Inability to understand or perform a task: People may not understand what they are being asked to do. Or they could be over-stimulated, under-stimulated or feel rushed.

Last Updated: 10/30/12
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