Managing ‘challenging behaviours or ‘behaviours of concern’ or managing the symptoms of dementia is a regular topic at conferences and forums for major discussion, often one that drives me to distraction!
After attending a forum for nurses and other health professionals in clinical practice recently, where at least half admitted to believing it appropriate to give people with dementia psychotropic drugs to ‘manage behaviours’, was extremely distressing and worrying.
Even though it is not considered best practice to do so, and even though a diagnosis of dementia is the one contra-indiction of prescribing psychotropic drugs – unless there is diagnosis of mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder – many clinicians in the room of approximately 100 said it was appropriate to do so.
As a consumer, I find it wrong there is a whole educational organisation devoted to managing ‘Challenging Behaviours’, with lists full of disrespectful words and term, and whole chapters or sets of guidelines for how to manage them.
Before I was diagnosed with dementia, when I went walking, it was called walking, and even sometimes wandering, if I was simply walking to get some fresh air, or walking for exercise, or walking because I was bored, or walking to the shops, or walking to the sake of walking… now I would be labelled as a wander, and the ways to manage it would more likely be, according to many of the clinicians recently, with drugs.
People with dementia are not wanderers, absconders, screamers (yes, I heard that recently), poor feeders, feeders, aggressives, or not all there’… we are PEOPLE, and sadly many have completely forgotten the ME in deMEntia.
Personally, I think the people who need managing most often are the staff of those people with dementia in their care… perhaps this will be the topic of my PhD.
I presented at a symposium in Perth for Alzheimer’s Australia WA last month, and the day was perfectly titled ‘The ME in Dementia’… it is time others start to focus on that too, and stop seeing us as behaviours. The Alzheimer’s Australia full language guidelines also support this.
Dementia Alliance International produced t-shirts earlier this year, with the phrase, also in the background power point slide in the image above, saying: