5 Ways to Handle Combative Behavior in a Senior with Dementia

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Dementia affects more than memory. The condition can also impact behavior. Family caregivers should prepare for behavioral problems such as angry outbursts or physical displays of aggression. Below are some tips your family can use to handle a combative senior loved one with dementia.


1. Speak Calmly

If you’re irrational when your loved one has a verbal or physical outburst, the situation could escalate, which is why you should remain calm. To soothe your loved one, speak clearly and in a relaxed tone. Never be aggressive. Avoid using negative words when talking, and offer helpful suggestions. Older adults with dementia often mimic the behavior of their caregivers, so if you’re positive and upbeat, it may reduce your parent’s combativeness. 

Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Frederick families can rely on Assisting Hands Home Care to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life.


2. Look for the Cause

Discomfort and high stress levels often cause behavioral problems in seniors with dementia. Determine what’s causing the combative actions and develop a solution. For instance, if your loved one is upset at dinnertime, look at the different foods and make sure everything is easy to chew and swallow. You might want to reduce the portion sizes or use single-colored plates without patterns to make the meal seem less intimidating. Discovering the problem can help you come up with a quick solution.


3. Suggest Fun Activities

When you notice your parent becoming upset, step in and direct his or her attention to something fun that stimulates the brain, such as playing a card game, cooking, dancing, or going for a walk through the neighborhood. Helping your loved one focus attention on a fun activity can alleviate stress and stop the combative behavior almost instantly. Keep in mind that your loved one’s attention span isn’t as sharp as it was in the past because of the dementia’s progression. It may be easier to distract and redirect your parent’s focus with fun activities.

The cognitive challenges that accompany dementia often leave aging adults unable to perform everyday tasks, which puts their safety and health at risk. If you have a senior loved one who needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading provider of home care Frederick families can trust. Our caregivers help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and we offer mentally stimulating activities that can boost cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. 


4. Use Positive Body Language

Looking in your loved one’s eyes can reassure him or her that things are okay, and it communicates compassion. Seniors with dementia respond better to gentle tones, facial expressions, and body language, which includes eye contact and a sincere smile. When your loved one lashes out, don’t take it personally. The dementia is causing the combative behavior.


5. Be Respectful

Acknowledging what caused the combative behavior is crucial because it lets your loved one know you’re listening. Even if your loved one’s claim isn’t entirely accurate, never diminish his or her feelings or focus on correcting the inaccuracy, which can be viewed as disrespectful and make the situation worse. As you’re listening to your loved one explain the problem, don’t interrupt. Don’t insult your loved one at any point in the conversation. Instead, offer reassurance and explain how to prevent the issue from occurring again. 

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 elderly home care 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. Assisting Hands Home Care is here to help. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.