How to Handle a Combative Senior with Dementia

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In the later stages of dementia, your elderly parent could lose the ability to reason and have regular verbal or physical outbursts as a result. The combative behavior may be negative, but it’s your loved one’s way of communicating. Below you’ll find some tips to help you manage a combative senior loved one with dementia. 

Remain Calm

Sometimes stepping out of the room is the best option. Leaving the room for a moment allows you to calm down before returning with a clear perspective. If you respond with anger or fear, your loved one could become even more agitated, and the situation might escalate from verbal outbursts to physical danger. While speaking with your loved one, always maintain eye contact to let him or her know you want to validate his or her feelings, and try to understand what caused the negative behavior. 

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. Tucson 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.

Identify the Problem & Look for a Solution

Combative behavior is often due to the stress of dementia or a side effect of medication. Look for the cause and effect in the situation by going over a list of your loved one’s basic needs, ensuring each one has been met. For instance, make sure your loved one isn’t hungry or tired or doesn’t need to go to the bathroom. Meeting the needs of a combative senior with dementia can typically resolve the behavior. Other problems may pertain to the current environment. Is it too noisy, was your loved one’s personal space invaded, or were there unfamiliar smells coming from the kitchen or laundry room? 

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 in-home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Use Distractions

Avoid correcting your loved one during a verbal outburst. Dementia affects brain cells that control thinking and movements, so your loved one isn’t in control of his or her actions. The more you try to explain how wrong the behavior is, the more agitated your loved one may become. Instead, try to distract your loved one with one of his or her favorite hobbies. To calm the atmosphere, you can also show your loved one photographs of familiar people and places that bring him or her joy. 

Practice Forgiveness

The psychological problems associated with dementia are typically the reasons behind these moments of aggression, so you need to keep this in mind and offer forgiveness to your loved one. Holding a grudge can strain your relationship and increase the risk of behavioral problems. While it’s okay to remain cautious, you shouldn’t be resentful, even if your loved one has said harsh and cruel things to you and other family members. However, these moments of combative behavior should be reported to your loved one’s primary care physician. Instances of physical violence are never okay, and a doctor may need to alter medications or offer caregiving strategies that prevent physical aggression in the future. 

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 Tucson homecare 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. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your loved one, call us at (520) 276-6555 today.


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