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How Can Family Caregivers Handle Combativeness in a Loved One with Dementia?

By Mark Schmidt, 9:00 am on November 25, 2019

Handling combative behavior might not have been what you thought you were signing up for when you became a caregiver. However, your senior loved one with dementia may act out occasionally and leave you on the receiving end of aggressive behavior. When this happens, it’s important to remember your loved one likely doesn’t realize the seriousness of his or her actions, and you can use these strategies to infuse a sense of calm into the situation.

Calmly Stand Up for Yourself

Your loved one may be so upset that he or she is acting without thinking. You can direct attention to the behavior by letting your loved one know that he or she cannot continue to act aggressively. As you use this strategy, make sure to keep a calm, clear voice with a measure of authority. Don’t yell since this could antagonize your loved one, but you should make your point that he or she cannot try to harm you.

Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care. Tucson families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

Minimize the Risk for Injuries

Combative behavior may include anything from hitting you to throwing objects in your direction. Your loved one may also yell and leave you wondering if he or she will take things further. Make sure to stand a safe distance away from your loved one if you believe he or she may become physically aggressive. You should also remove any dangerous objects from the area if your loved one is known to break things.

Offer Empathy

Seniors with dementia can become combative when they feel as though their needs or wishes aren’t being understood. This is especially common when they face difficulties with communication. If you feel safe, try reaching out to your loved one by getting closer to him or her and putting a hand on his or her arm. Establish eye contact, and let your loved one know you’re trying to help. Even if you don’t understand why your loved one is upset, showing you care enough to figure out the situation may get him or her to calm down.

Request Help from Someone Else

Certain types of combative behavior call for backup. You shouldn’t try to manage your loved one alone if you know he or she tends to become physically aggressive. Having a professional caregiver on call allows you to step away as needed and rely on someone who can calm your loved one down. If your loved one is specifically upset at you, having a new person step in may get him or her to stop acting aggressively.

Families looking for top-rated elder care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

Watch for Early Warning Signs

You might eventually start to notice a pattern for combative behavior. Many seniors with dementia become aggressive at the end of the day when they’re tired. Your loved one may also be more prone to aggression if he or she is hungry or experiencing a memory lapse. Finding ways to prevent known triggers and asking someone to help you during challenging parts of your loved one’s daily routine can minimize the frequency of combative behavior.

Caring for a senior with dementia can be challenging for family caregivers. Luckily, there is dementia home care Tucson, AZ, families can rely on. Professional dementia caregivers help seniors with dementia stay safe and comfortable at home by preventing wandering, providing cognitive stimulation, and assisting with household chores. Call Home Care Assistance today at (520) 276-6555 to schedule a free in-home consultation.