'Hand grenades' for dementia sufferers

A UK-based psychoanalyst has put the behaviour of dementia carers in the spotlight, identifying everyday behaviour that could be harmful to sufferers.

UK-based dementia expert Trevor Mumby. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

UK-based dementia expert Trevor Mumby. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Mental health social worker Trevor Mumby has developed a training program where participants recognise the negative pattern of behaviours evoked by "hand grenades" - 12 characteristics that are "normal" and relatively harmless, but can be "explosive" if used in the presence of someone who has dementia.

The "hand grenades" include interrupting, talking loudly, ignoring, controlling, and expecting gratitude.

During his visit to the Illawarra Retirement Trust college, Mr Mumby warned that people with dementia were not capable of changing their behaviour, therefore care-givers needed to adjust their own responses.

"The baby boom generation is entering a completely new-age problem," Mr Mumby said yesterday.

"We don't know what new reactions living longer will cause.

"The old ways have become ineffective and even damaging when applied to the younger-minded 80-year-old.

"Our everyday conversations contain 12 hand grenades which can explode and create damage in everyday relations, especially to elderly people.

"In many cases they cause angry frustration and eventually withdrawal from people who continue to use them."

Mr Mumby said carers around the world who were working to change their behaviour, were seeing positive results.

"Staff who are adapting the changes in their behaviour are reporting that they enjoy coming to work and actually encourage their mates to join," he said.

"Staff turnover has dropped and recruiting problems are diminishing. Relatives are expressing genuine surprise about the changes taking place."

For more on Mr Mumby's program visit www.mumbys.com/familyfirst


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