5 Strategies for Handling a Combative Aging Adult Who Has Dementia

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Seniors with dementia who display combative behavior can provide overwhelming challenges for their caregivers and others. When not controlled, the situations can escalate and turn violent. Below are several strategies family caregivers can use to manage a combative senior loved one with dementia.

1. Change Activity Times

Monitor your parent’s behavior to determine what time of day your loved one is at his or her best. You should schedule your loved one’s activities for these hours. Avoid times when your loved one becomes confused and angry. In addition to modifying activity schedules, make sure the atmosphere is calm when your loved one completes tasks or projects. Too much noise could cause your loved one to react negatively, especially if he or she feels threatened.

2. Help Your Loved One Get Comfortable

Pain and discomfort can lead to agitation and violence, and simply monitoring your loved one’s wellbeing could prevent the negative behavior. For example, if your loved one is in pain, he or she may not be able to communicate this to you and act out violently to get your attention. Dementia prevents logical thinking, so your loved one may believe his or her actions are expressing the pain he or she feels. Check in on your loved one regularly, and ask questions like:

• Do you need to move to another chair?
• Would you like to go for a walk or try to stretch?
• Does it hurt when you swallow or chew?
• Are you in pain? Can you show me where the pain is coming from?

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. Fort Myers 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.

3. Redirect

As soon as you notice your loved one having a combative episode, redirect his or her attention to another activity or a different area of the home. Redirecting focus to something fun can instantly calm the mind and help seniors with dementia forget what caused the moment of anger, aggression, or fear. It’s a good idea to have a variety of activities available in the home to manage combative behavior, including board games, cards, puzzles, movies, and music systems.

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

4. Monitor Medications

Some prescriptions increase the risk of hallucinations, which can lead to behavioral challenges. Monitor your loved one’s actions and emotions each day, especially after he or she takes medications. Combative behavior is often caused by the effects of medication, and in these instances, your loved one’s primary care physician may need to alter the dosage or recommend an alternative treatment. Skipping medicines can also cause the treatment to be ineffective and increase aggression in seniors with dementia, which is why medication management is vital to their health.

5. Maintain Your Composure

Regardless of how difficult things may be, don’t raise your voice or speak down to your parent. Your adverse reaction could cause the combative behavior to worsen. Remain patient, try to find a quick solution, and refrain from becoming forceful. To avoid a confrontation, you may need to step out while your loved one calms down. To prevent your loved one from causing physical danger to him or herself or others, make sure the room is secure before you leave.

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 Fort Myers 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. If you need professional home care for your loved one, Home Care Assistance is just a phone call away. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at 239.449.4701.