I have learnt that dementia is caused by several abnormalities of the brain such that the victims fail to function well intellectually thereby failing to conduct their daily activities and relationships in an effective normal manner. Some of the victims cannot control their emotions while others lose memory. This reflective essay therefore explores how patients in dementia ward demonstrated adaptive and maladaptive coping responses to their health issues, and what is learned from it (Billings & Moos 1981, p. 139-157).
Coping is the change of behavior and cognition to control internal and external demands that are difficult to manage normally. Once individuals get the condition, they become stressed up, and how they handle or cope with the situation is very important (Brougham, Zail, Mendoza & Miller 2009, p. 85-97). Coping is geared towards having improved health and self-esteem. A dementia patient puts more efforts in their conscious to tolerate the condition. There are adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies employed by these patients. Adaptive responses are constructive since they reduce stress levels associated with the condition (Clinton, Moyle, Weir & Edward 2011, online). On the other hand, maladaptive coping responses increases the levels of stress associated with the condition, and are non-coping responses since they affect the patient further. I have realized that the personality contributes to the coping responses. Additionally, the environment individuals are in contributes to how they cope.
In the dementia wards, there are those patients who use adaptive cognitive responses in coping with the situation, others use adaptive behavior and emotion focused responses while others use maladaptive coping responses (Pargament, Kennell, Hathaway, Grevengoed, Newman & Jones 1988, 90-104). All these responses are related to the personality of individuals since each handle the condition differently (McRae, 1984 p. 919–928).
Some of the patients have the ability to change the way they think and perceive things. This way, such patients distance themselves from the situation by creating new goals. For example, they see humor in the condition and take it positively (Davidson 2000, p. 1196–1214).
Other patients look at the source of their condition, and try to deal with it. They inquire more about their problem, and learn ways they can manage the problem. By doing this, they effectively become stress free.
Some other patients control their emotions by distracting themselves from unfriendly feelings for them to feel relaxed (Folkman & Richard 1990, p. 67). They try as much as they can to perceive their condition in a better way thereby reducing their stress levels.
Even though some use the combination of the three strategies to cope with dementia, those that employ the problem focused strategy perform better (Fry & Prentice-Dunn 2005, p. 133–147). This is because by focusing on the problem, the patients are able to control the problem. Some times, emotion focused strategy of adaptively coping with the situation may lead to maladaptive coping (Frijda, 1986, p. 43).
There are other patients who employ maladaptive coping responses to handle dementia. There are those patients who become hostile and aggressive and end up attacking or blaming others. Others become dominant over others to realize their goals, while others seek to be recognized by seeking for attention from others. Some of the dementia patients in the wards also surrender to the condition and submit fully to the condition. There are other patients in the wards who try to cope by isolating themselves from others socially thinking hat when they are alone they can cope better (Haley, Roth, Coleton, Ford, West, Collins & Isobe 2001, p. 121–129). However, this is a maladaptive response since such patients end up being more stressed. They try to watch alone, or read materials to avoid associating with others. They also showed avoidance by seeking some excitement through physical activities or sex.
Patients in dementia word employ both adaptive and maladaptive coping responses in dealing with their condition. The adaptive responses such as focusing on the problem and emotion focusing have been found to reduce the levels of stress while maladaptive stress responses increase the levels of stress and are not healthy. The responses therefore depend on individual personality and the environment where they belong.
Billings, G. & Moos, H. (1981) The role of coping responses and social resources in attenuating life events. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4(2), 139–157.
Brougham, R., Zail, M., Mendoza, M. & Miller, R. (2009) Stress, sex differences, and coping strategies among college students. Current Psychology, 28, 85–97.
Clinton, M., Moyle, W., Weir, D. & Edward, H. (2011) Perceptions of stressors and reported coping strategies in nurses caring for residents with Alzheimer’s disease in a dementia unit. Web.
Davidson, R. (2000) Affective style, psychopathology, and resilience: Brain mechanisms and plasticity. American Psychologist, 55, 1196–1214.
Folkman, S. and Richard, S. (1990) Coping and Emotion. Psychological and Biological Approaches to Emotion. California: Lazarus University of California. P. 67
Frijda, N. (1986). The emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. P. 43
Fry, B. & Prentice-Dunn, S. (2005) The effects of coping information and value affirmation on responses to a perceived health threat. Health Communication, 17, 133–147.
Haley, W., Roth, L., Coleton, I., Ford, R., West, C., Collins, P. & Isobe, L. (2001) Appraisal, coping, and social support as mediators of well-being in Black and Caucasian family caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 64, 121–129.
McRae, R. (1984) Situational determinates of coping responses: Loss, threat, and challenge. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 919–928.
Pargament, I., Kennell, J., Hathaway, W., Grevengoed, N., Newman, J. & Jones, W. (1988). Religion and the problem-solving process: three styles of coping. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 27, 90–104.