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5 Methods a Dementia Caregiver Can Use to Calm a Loved One

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Damage to the brain caused by dementia could lead to combative behavior in older adults. Being physically or verbally attacked by an aging parent may cause you to want to fight back, but you must resist these feelings and remain calm to prevent the situation from escalating. Here are some ways to calm a loved one with dementia and reduce combativeness.

1. Look for the Trigger

Review the situation to find out what led to the aggressive outburst. For example, if you were feeding your loved one and he or she had a physical reaction, retrace your steps to determine what triggered the negative behavior. You could have fed your loved one too much food or rushed him or her during mealtime. A specific action triggers most verbal and physical outbursts, and combative behavior may be your loved one’s best way to communicate when he or she feels attacked, rushed, or uncomfortable.

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. Jefferson 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. Start a New Activity

Distracting your loved one from the situation or task that caused the aggression could calm him or her down almost instantly. For example, if your parent is trying to help with dinner and becomes frustrated, stop cooking and ask for help with setting the dinner table. The objective is to redirect your loved one’s attention to something else, which could calm the situation and provide another purposeful task to complete.

3. Offer Reassurance

Losing their abilities is frightening for older adults with dementia, especially when they’re unable to stop the changes. The fear could increase combativeness, but offering reassurance can calm your loved one. When your loved one becomes upset, hug him or her or offer a gentle pat on the back. You could also offer words of encouragement and a smile. Reassuring your loved one that you’re going to remain by his or her side can inspire hope and reduce feelings of fear.

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. Leave the Room

In some instances, your loved one’s behavior may continue to get worse if you stay in the room. Therefore, you should leave to give him or her space. While you’re away, your loved one may forget why he or she is angry and calm down without any assistance. You should never walk out of the area unless it’s safe and secure. If there are no objects or hazards that could cause your loved one harm, you can leave and allow him or her to regain balance while you’re out of the room.

5. Be Realistic

Some techniques work, while others aren’t as successful. Instead of getting upset, move on to another method and remain optimistic. Keep in mind combative behavior is typical in older adults with dementia. If you maintain realistic expectations, you can respond to the aggression with more clarity. When creating a list of calming techniques, compare those strategies to your abilities and your loved one’s current limitations. Remaining realistic prevents you from being shocked and unable to respond effectively when your loved one lashes out.

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 Jefferson County elder 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. Call us at (303) 987-5992 today to talk to one of our compassionate Care Managers about our high-quality dementia home care services.