Being a caregiver to someone with Dementia can be frustrating and difficult at times. Because they’re not able to clearly communicate their needs, people with dementia may have outbursts when they are afraid, frustrated, angry or in pain.
We have put together 10 tips for behavior management with dementia. We hope you find these helpful during this difficult time.
Validate Their Feelings
If there isn’t an obvious cause for strong negative feelings like frustration, sadness or loneliness, try to look for clues to their emotions and in their behavior. Talk in a calm and comforting way. Reassure them that it’s ok to feel the way they feel and that you are there to help.
It’s important to remind yourself that challenging behavior and aggressive outbursts are normal symptoms of dementia. As you remind yourself it can help you respond in a calm and supportive way. Having realistic expectations can help reduce your reaction and shock and make it a little easier to not take the behavior personally.
Identify the Trigger
Try to look at what happened right before the outburst started. See if you can identify if fear, frustration or pain might have triggered it. After identifying the potential trigger, see if you can help handle the situation or remove the trigger from your surroundings.
Rule out Pain
Many older adults with dementia aren’t able to clearly communicate that something is bothering them. Pain and physical discomfort can trigger unwanted behavior. See if they have something causing them discomfort like arthritis or gout.
Use a Gentle Tone
In the heat of the moment it can be hard to remember it’s important to stay calm. Staying calm and breathing slowly can help reduce anger and agitation. Remind yourself to speak slowly and keep your voice soft, reassuring and positive.
Busy and noisy environments can cause extra chaos and trigger unpleasant emotions in dementia. Try keeping the volume of music down. Keep the TV off, and ask people to leave the room if you notice agitation.
If a situation causes agitation or frustration try shifting their attention to a different activity. See if you can direct them to something they typically enjoy.
Play Relaxing Music
Music has proven benefits to lift or help with mood. Try playing soft classical music or try humming a soothing tune. Music can help provide an overall more relaxing environment.
Sometimes nothing you try to do to help will work. If this is the case, it may be best to leave the room and give not only yourself but your loved one time to calm down. Before you exit, it is best to check that the environment is safe and that there is nothing that can hurt them while you are gone.
Call for Help
If you have tried everything you can do and feel like your loved one is becoming a danger to you or themselves, it’s ok to ask for help from others. Call family or nearby friends and ask them for immediate help. If there is an emergency, don’t hesitate to call 911, but be very clear when you call dispatch that the person you are calling about has dementia.
Handling dementia with your loved ones can be trying at times. Gables Assisted Living located throughout Idaho and Utah does offer an ongoing Alzheimer Support Group. You can check our facebook page events to see when the next group meeting will be. Connecting with others going through a similar situation can be very beneficial in handling the ups and downs.