Tips on How to Cope With Aggressive Dementia Patients

Providing care for an elderly loved one can be a difficult task at times, especially if your loved one suffers from dementia. Aggression is often a side effect of dementia, and many family caregivers and family members find this hard to manage at times. We at Carefect Home Care Services would like to share some tips on how to cope with aggressive dementia patients so that you can provide care to your loved one without anyone getting hurt in the process.

Remain Clam

The first thing that family caregivers should do when dealing with an aggressive dementia patient is to remember to try to remain calm. If you get agitated and argue with the patient, that will only upset them more and lead to more aggression from them. Sometimes it is helpful to try deep breathing or counting to ten in your head before talking so that you can take some time to calm yourself down enough to avoid an argument. Speaking to the patient in a calm and reassuring tone is the best way to get them to calm down.  It is also important to make sure that you do not appear anxious or nervous because you do not want the patient to think that you are afraid of them. Aside from keeping yourself calm, you can do this by maintaining eye contact with them and speaking to them in a steady tone. If they sense that you are afraid of them they will be more likely to act out in the future because they will think that they can get away with it.

Attention Distraction

Finding something to distract your loved one’s attention can be helpful in getting them to calm down. Many caregivers do this by providing them with food, music or some type of activity that they enjoy. When using this tactic you should make sure that you keep their activities low-stress so that they will calm down and not become irritated again by the activity. Provide them with as much help as they need to complete their new activity without appearing to take over the situation completely. If you appear to be trying to control them that can trigger another aggressive response, so you should allow them to have some control over what they are doing. Once their attention has been diverted and they have calmed down, provide them with praise and encouragement to encourage them to continue their calmer behavior.

Avoid Retraining

If your loved one becomes physically violent, you should not try to restrain them. Trying to restrain them can possibly agitate them more or cause one or both of you to get hurt. You should only try to restrain them if it is absolutely necessary at the time. If it does become necessary, you should look for someone else to help you so that you will have less of a chance of getting hurt. The best way to deal with a physically aggressive patient is to back away from them and make sure that you are out of their reach. It is often helpful to leave the room so that they cannot harm you and they will have time to calm down while you are gone.

Find the Aggression Trigger

To prevent aggression in dementia patients, try to pay attention to what triggers their aggression. Learning what triggers the aggression will allow you to try to minimize or avoid these situations in the future so that you can avoid aggressive episodes. Sometimes it is impossible to avoid things that will trigger the episodes, but if an episode is triggered you can easily manage it by following the tips listed in this article. If you know that your loved one is agitated at the time you should try to leave them alone and interact with them when you know they are in a better mood. This might not always work, but it is usually a very effective way to avoid aggression from them when you need to do things for them.

Share Your Feelings

If you start to get overwhelmed taking care of your loved one, you should try to find someone to share your feelings with. It can often be very difficult to talk with an aggressive dementia patient, but there are plenty of support groups available for family caregivers where you can talk with other people dealing with similar issues. This is a great way to keep yourself from lashing out or causing further arguments with your loved one. It can also be very helpful to hire a professional caregiver from a homecare services company to care for them or assist you in caring for them if they seem to constantly have a problem with you taking care of them. Managing your loved one’s aggression and having support is the best way to cope with aggressive dementia patients.

Relevant articles in our blog:

Types of Dementia (2 parts)

Alzheimer’s disease – Understanding and Dealing with Difficult Behaviors