6 Ways to Manage Aggression in a Senior Who Has Dementia

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Aggression is a behavior most people don’t encounter often in life. However, family caregivers sometimes find themselves on the receiving end of their senior loved ones’ anger. Seniors with dementia may lash out for a variety of reasons, and your loved one’s actions could cause one or both of you to get hurt. Handling aggressive behavior as soon as possible with these strategies can help you defuse the situation with grace.

1. Look for a Problem in the Environment

If your loved one was perfectly calm only minutes before, something could have happened that aroused his or her anger. For instance, your loved one may throw a chair because something was poking his or her skin, or your parent may yell incoherently to let you know he or she is cold. Check to see if there’s anything obvious that could be upsetting your loved one. Even a spilled drink could be a reason for the aggression.

2. Speak in a Calm and Clear Voice

When your loved one acts aggressively, he or she may feel out of control. Although it may be difficult, try to avoid yelling back. Instead, maintain a calm yet authoritative tone of voice to reassure your loved one that you’re in control and ready to handle the situation.

Symptoms such as agitation, confusion, anger, and frustration are common in elderly people with dementia. Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Naples seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

3. Express Empathy

You might have no idea why your loved one is acting aggressively. However, you can still let him or her know you understand. Try affirming your loved one’s feelings by saying you understand he or she is angry, and tell him or her you want to help. Getting your loved one to see you’re on the same team may help him or her stop acting aggressively and accept your help.

4. Try to Redirect Your Loved One’s Attention

Redirection is an effective strategy you’ll use often as a dementia caregiver. If your loved one calms down enough, try shifting his or her attention to a new activity, preferably something soothing you know he or she can be successful at. Painting, listening to a song, and having a snack are some activities that may lure your loved one out of his or her bad mood.

The cognitive challenges that accompany dementia often leave aging adults unable to manage everyday tasks, which puts their safety and health at risk. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of at-home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

5. Know When to Call for Backup

Aggression can become dangerous if your loved one begins to direct the anger toward you or him or herself. If necessary, hire a professional caregiver, who will stay nearby to help you if things get too difficult to handle yourself. Seeing two people may help your loved one calm down, since he or she will feel outnumbered. Alternatively, your loved one may respond better to a new person stepping in.

6. Learn How to Prevent Future Instances of Aggression

Once the situation is calm, try to identify what led up to the incident. Eventually, you may notice patterns in your loved one’s behavior, such as acting out at certain times of the day. You can then enact strategies to prevent meltdowns, such as trying different activities during times when you know your loved one will be in a poor mood.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging task for anyone. The responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but help is available. Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Naples elderly home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (239) 449-4701 to schedule a free in-home consultation.