Researcher: Caregiver indifference could worsen dementia patients' behavior

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Caregivers who respond to dementia patients with indifference or irritation can cause problem behavior to worsen, according to a recent study by a Dutch researcher.

For the study, researcher Marjolein de Vugt observed 199 dementia patients and their caregivers during a two-year period. The study found that caregivers who did not accept dementia sufferers' restlessness and who expressed irritation towards the patient actually aggravated the problematic behavior. 
 
The study identified three approaches that caregivers, adopt toward dementia sufferers in order to cope with their restless and hyperactive behavior. Caregivers who actually adjust to the patient's level of functioning employ what the researcher called the supportive strategy. Other caregivers, employing the caring strategy, tend to treat the patient like a child. The non-adaptive strategy, in which the caregiver expresses impatience and irritation toward the dementia patient, is the approach used to describe caregivers who find it harder to cope with the behavioral problems of dementia sufferers.