5 Ways to Manage 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 manage 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.

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Sonoma County 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.

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 his or her 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 easier to distract and redirect his or her focus with fun activities.

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

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 neurological disorder 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 he or she can 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 Sonoma County in-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. Home Care Assistance is here to help. For compassionate, reliable in-home care, trust the experienced professionals from Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (707) 843.4368 to learn about the high quality of our in-home dementia care services.


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