5 Tips for Dealing with Aggressive Behavior in Dementia
This is a guest post from Anna Short, a primary caregiver for her mother with dementia.
When seniors are diagnosed with dementia, it becomes challenging for them to live independently. In such cases, you are forced to either place them in a seniors’ facility or to take care of them at home. Taking care of them at home will take a toll on you; you have to invest your time, your emotions, and your money. You have to be patient with them and guide them at all times.
Dementia alone is easy to manage; you just have to be there or set reminders for your senior parent and ensure they never wander off the compound. When dementia is followed by aggression, however, it becomes more challenging to take care of your senior parent. There are a couple of ways you can manage aggression in dementia.
Learn To Identify And Manage Irritants
There are many factors that may cause aggression, but the pain is the most common. Patients of dementia are not able to communicate their problems, and instead, they act them out. This way, a patient may be feeling pain or uncomfortable from a health condition, but they may not say it. This means that you have to observe their reactions during the period they show aggression. Check whether they have taken their pain meds or whether their facial expressions denote they are having pain.
Other irritants include:
- Soiled clothes
- People they don’t like
- Unpleasant environment
- A memory
- Strong or dim light
There are many more irritants seeing that each senior is different. As the primary caregiver, you have to be keen and analyze the happenings just before the aggression episode.
Make Their Environment Comfortable
Give seniors just what they need to stay comfortable. Ensure that their room is not cold, and neither is it too hot. Ensure their room has less clutter and instead is filled with essentials, items that the senior holds dear and that he/she needs for a comfortable day.
When seniors are diagnosed with dementia, they will likely spend most of their days indoors. As such, they need to be engaged in interesting activities such as playing the piano, knitting, or anything else they find interesting. Sometimes they are not able to do these activities, seeing that their memory is severed but ensure they are engaged either way.
Lighting also makes their rooms more comfortable. This is especially so when seniors react due to fear. Darkness can create impressions of people and objects that do not exist. As such, ensure their rooms are always well lit. Anything seniors do not like should be removed from their room.
Using Technology to Help with Everyday Life
Seniors with dementia frequently become restless and upset. Aggression can often lead to wandering, and when seniors realize they do not know how to get back home, they often get lost. This can be very dangerous and worrying for those concerned for senior safety and well-being. Wandering can make your role as caregiver even more difficult. Medical alert bracelets or a GPS tracking device can help you track seniors when they wander off the compound. Medical alert systems for seniors bring many benefits and provide peace of mind to caregivers. Read reviews & compare medical alert systems at Home Security Heroes.
Give Them Space And Yield To Most Of Their Demands
You have to let seniors do most of the things they want to do. This will significantly reduce aggressive behavior, keep them occupied and make your work easier. While you cannot let them do everything they feel like, any reason activity they want to engage in should be allowed.
You also need to respect their personal space by giving them as many resources to live independently as possible. This way, they will feel respected, and part of the family and their aggression will reduce. If they can, give them some responsibilities to keep them engaged and make them feel needed.
Ensure Their Social Life Stays Intact
Everyone loves to interact with other people. Otherwise, we’d get bored, feel unneeded and useless. This is the same case for seniors. Imagine how it’d feel if you entered a room full of laughing people and when you get in, they all stay silent. You’d feel unwanted.
Seniors with dementia need to interact with other people. A story, reading together, playing a game together or even cooking together will help them feel needed and consequently reduce aggression. If you decide to engage seniors, ensure that you can give them full attention. This way, they won’t feel like you are doing it out of pity. Again, choose an activity they like and not one that you like; you can let them choose an activity.
Lastly, help them exercise. This is one way of keeping the aggression at bay.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.
Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices throughout California including: Campbell, CA, Roseville, CA, San Marcos, CA, and San Mateo, CA.
About the author: Anna Short is a professional seamstress based in NYC. She’s a primary caregiver for her mother with dementia. When not working, she’s spending time with her family or putting pen to paper for her own personal pursuits. Annabelle is a mother of two and she likes to make crafty projects in her free time.