Pleasure and disturbed behaviour

Have you thought about what motivates people to act the way they do? One theory suggests that people seek pleasure and avoid unpleasant experience. Sounds reasonable. In fact it makes sense of the the fact that people living with dementia, who are no different to you and me in their emotional repertoire and their psychological needs, act more peacefully when they are in a good mood. Think about it. If we as caregivers maintain the person in a good mood we are more likely to have a person in our care who is peaceful and contented, happy and pleasant to be with. Unhappy people who are depressed or despairing are more likely to be angry and aggressive. Happy people don’t hit people. Happy people don’t tend to get out of their cars to remonstrate with others about their driving. Happy people don’t complain or whinge.

So what does this mean for caregiving in dementia care? It means that if you want to avoid having angry people in your care, maintain the person in a good or positive mood. One of the easiest ways to do this is to offer opportunities for pleasure. People who do not experience pleasure are more likely to be in a depressed or despairing mood. Pleasurable experience releases “feel good” hormones into our system which relax us and give us a feeling of wellbeing and peace.

When was the last time you experienced pleasure?