What Causes Responsive Behaviors?

Resolve Responsive Behaviors

What Causes Responsive Behaviors?

Finding out ‘why’ can help you resolve responsive or disruptive behaviors:  Let’s look at the Impact of the Montessori Method on Seniors with Responsive Behaviors

Scientific research has shown that responsive behaviors seen in people living with dementia are caused, in large part, by unmet needs.

Here’s a perfect example:

Mrs. Harrison (not her real name) lives in a memory care residence. She is in her early 80’s and she’s in the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s.

Her primary nurse takes her blood pressure regularly. Unfortunately, this never goes well for either of them.

Mrs. Harrison becomes very irritated whenever the nurse comes into her room to take her blood pressure.

The nurse didn’t understand what the problem was. She would manage to finish the task, tell Mrs. Harrison that her BP was normal and off she would go.

Not surprisingly, the nurse felt quite a lot of stress whenever it was time to take Mrs. Harrison’s blood pressure. She knew it was negatively impacting their relationship.

Having no idea why Mrs. Harrison got so agitated, the nurse recommended administering drugs to calm her down.

Mrs. Harrison, deserving of care and kindness, remained agitated and not at all satisfied with the whole process.


Resolve Responsive Behaviors


We can find out what causes responsive behaviors by asking ‘why’.

The Director, having been trained in the Montessori Method of working with people affected by dementia, asked the nurse “why?”.

She continued… “Did you ask Mrs. Harrison why she was irritated about having her blood pressure taken?”

The nurse, who was not trained in the Montessori Method, admitted that she didn’t know why and that she had not asked.

The Director always avoided drugs as the first solution in dealing with responsive behaviors.

So, she went to see Mrs. Harrison and asked her why she didn’t like her blood pressure being taken.

Mrs. Harrison’s answer was entirely reasonable…she worried about having no control over her own healthcare.

Realizing there was an unmet need here, the Director asked, ‘would you like to take your own blood pressure’?

Mrs. Harrison replied “yes”.

So, they took Mrs. Harrison out of her room where the uncomfortable experiences had taken place.

In another room, with assistance and careful supervision from the nurse, Mrs. Harrison took her own blood pressure.

She saw the results for herself, and she was noticeably calmer than she had been.

Mrs. Harrison was calmer because she was taking part in her own health care. She was no longer worried about not being in control.

Being in control of her own healthcare was no longer an unmet need.


Learn how to find out ‘why’ with Certified Montessori Alzheimer training.