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How Do You Calm Down Someone With Dementia?

How Do You Calm Down Someone with Dementia?

Many people associate dementia with a significant loss of memory. While this is the main symptom of dementia, it is not the only one. Seniors with dementia also experience mood swings and can become angry and agitated over things that once did not phase them. 

If you are wondering how do you calm down someone with dementia, you are not alone. Many family members and caregivers deal with the symptoms of dementia each day. With a little trial and error, you can identify the source of your loved one’s agitation and learn to respond to it in an effective way.

What Causes Agitation for People with Dementia?

Dementia patients can experience agitation and anxiety that causes them to get angry or act out. This can happen for several reasons. 

First, many dementia patients have lost some of their ability to read body language, so you may upset them without even knowing it. If you look irritated, even if it isn’t aimed at your loved one, they can take it personally. Similarly, if you seem distracted, that can cause agitation. 

Seniors with dementia also experience the loss of ability to control their mood. This means that they cannot calm themselves down, which can result in acting out. In addition, once they get angry, they can have a hard time letting it go and moving on. 

How Do You Calm Down Someone with Dementia? Follow These Tips

There is no one single way to calm down a senior who is experiencing anxiety or agitation due to dementia. Each person experiences the disease differently and may be triggered by different external factors. While there are general tips that you can try, it may take a little trial and error to find out what is effective for your loved one.


Human touch can have many effects, one of which can be calming. Human touch can create or improve a bond, improve trust, and let the person suffering from dementia know that you care. Just a soft back rub or holding their hand can be effective in reducing agitation and fostering a conversation that can de-escalate a stressful situation. 

Just be aware that if your loved one is in a very angry state, they may not want to be touched, and approaching them can make things worse. Use your judgment and know when a touch will be received well and when it will not.


Aromatherapy has been used for calming purposes in all ages for centuries. Scents like lavender have been known to bring on feelings of calmness as well as other benefits such as improved sleep and better concentration. 

Try different aromatherapy scents with your loved one to see if any of them have an impact. You can begin the day with a brightening scent and change the scent throughout the day to create a positive and relaxing environment. 

Pet Therapy 

While seniors with dementia may not be good candidates for pet ownership, pet therapy has been known to not only improve and stabilize mood but calm seniors who are irritated or agitated. Pets can provide a welcome friend and a change in stimulation that can be calming. 

Pet therapy can be offered in a professional environment where seniors do specific exercises with animals. But spending time with pets in an unstructured environment can also be an effective and calming activity. 

Stick to a Routine

For those wondering how do you calm down someone with dementia, one of the most effective methods is maintaining a daily routine. Even when seniors with dementia don’t remember anything, the familiarity of a daily routine can help jog their memory and give them a sense of certainty and stability. 

Implementing a routine does not mean that you have to do the same things every single day; you can still add variety to the senior’s schedule. Just make sure that the general parameters of their routine stay consistent.

Provide Reassurances

When seniors with dementia get agitated, stressed, or aggressive, the best way you can respond is with reassurance and understanding. Make sure they understand that you sympathize with the way they are feeling, and let them know you are listening. 

Provide reassurances that their feelings are valid and their worries will be addressed. It can be hard to always keep your patience with seniors with dementia. Sometimes their behavior can seem unpredictable and harsh. But try to remember what they are experiencing and know that compassion and patience are the best remedies. 

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, there is no secret answer for those wondering how do you calm down someone with dementia. What works for some seniors will not work for others. 

In addition to following these tips, you can also work to identify triggers that seem to upset seniors with dementia. Identifying situations that seem to cause agitation or anxiety can help you avoid them, minimizing the chances that your loved one will act out at all.

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 CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices throughout California including: Campbell, CARoseville, CASan Marcos, CA, and San Mateo, CA.

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.

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