When working properly, our brains have a social filter. This is a thinking skill that most people have developed over time and can control without even realizing it. We all have unkind thoughts from time to time, but we do not always say them out loud. Our social filter helps us use words and actions that show kindness and consideration to others.
For example: when we get a handmade sweater from our Grandma an unkind thought might pop into our mind like, “ugh, this is ugly!”, but we don’t want to hurt her feelings, so we instead say: “thanks for the sweater, Grandma, that must have been a lot of work!” That’s our social filter at work, considering other people’s feelings. However, Alzheimer’s and dementia damage the brain’s social filter and can cause a person living with memory impairment to say an unkind thought out loud.
The frontal lobe of our brain is responsible for these social filters. It is also where Alzheimer’s and dementia attack and often destroy the social filters that can result in unkind words or actions by people living with memory impairment. Sometimes they say insulting things, make a racist remark, or an obscene gesture. They may use foul language or say and exhibit sexually inappropriate behavior that is completely out of character for them. Most of the time this behavior is erratic. There one minute, then inexplicably, the social filters begin properly functioning again leaving the untrained observer to wonder what is going on.
Sometimes a resident’s filters are lost because they are in pain but don’t know how to ask for help or say they are in pain. Our caregivers are trained to look for any underlying medical issues causing their behavior such as an infection, dehydration or any number of things.
As professional caregivers of people with dementia, our Jaxpointe Memory Care Homes team has developed techniques to help with this inconsistent behavior of the brain. We learn as much about the person living with dementia as we can so when they exhibit this kind of behavior we can help them remember that we don’t act or speak that way to anyone because it is hurtful. The resident may not always remember what just happened, but by kindly reminding them with compassion and the right techniques we can help them relearn not to do it again.
If you would like to learn more about dealing with a loved one living with memory loss who says or does unkind things one of our dementia care experts can help. Call 303-420-5590 or visit our website today.