How to Handle Difficult Behaviors Associated With Dementia

elderly showing grumpy face

Managing behaviors in dementia patients might be challenging, yet it isn’t impossible. Your actions and words have the power to rapidly deescalate intense situations.

Follow these professional do’s and don’ts to effectively and calmly handle these three common kinds of dementia behaviors:

How to deal with a combative or aggressive family member

Do: The secret to reacting with care to aggression that is caused by dementia includes trying to identify the cause. What’s the patient feeling to make them behave in this manner?

  • Were they triggered by something?
  • Is their mind wandering?
  • Are they in any pain?

Do not: The worst thing to do is to force the issue that is causing the aggression or engage in an argument. Do not attempt to forcibly restrain the individual unless there’s no choice.

Managing confusion and repeated questions

Do: When an aging family member is confused about what is happening or where they are, try the following ideas from the American Psychological Association:

  • Use tools like calendars, alarms, and to-do checklists that help them recall tasks
  • Stay supportive and calm, and do not take the person’s confusion personally
  • Use photographs and additional tangible items that help to explain situations
  • Communicate with simplistic explanations

Do not: Long explanations do not work. You must discover what will make the individual feel the safest. Even if it winds up being a therapeutic lie. It can be challenging to reason with someone who has dementia or Alzheimer’s. In some cases, it simply cannot be done. Oftentimes, we risk triggering stressful situations in doing so.

Helping with bad judgment

Do: Caregivers often can minimize embarrassment and frustration for dementia sufferers by:

  • Simplifying a routine or task by breaking it down within smaller steps
  • Working collaboratively to fix a problem
  • Offering help and listening

Do not: It isn’t helpful to blatantly question the person’s capability of taking care of the task at hand or argue with them. You might risk alienating them. Any reaction that may be interpreted as accusatory or doubting that person’s capability of handling their own lives just serves to anger them and place them on the defensive.

To learn more about our dementia care support services contact Saad Healthcare today at our Mississippi office 1.800.279.2231.

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Valerie Mitchell