Aggression and agitation are common behaviors associated with dementia in aging adults. These are also issues that can present some frustrating and, at times, alarming challenges for family caregivers, especially when it comes to helping their senior loved ones with eating, bathing, and other daily routines. What’s more, negative mood shifts sometimes randomly occur in seniors living with dementia. One way to address situations like these is to have a better idea of the steps you can take to handle aggression.
Talk to the Doctor
If you suspect aggression is related to some type of physical issue, schedule an appointment with your loved one’s doctor. The doctor can perform a physical exam and run tests to confirm or rule out physical problems, especially if your loved one is no longer able to clearly express the nature of his or her discomfort.
Check the Immediate Environment
If you’ve ruled out physical discomfort, look for things in the immediate environment that might be affecting your loved one’s behavior. Common culprits include:
- Too much background noise
- Excessive sunlight coming through windows
- Strange odors your loved one might not be able to identify, such as aromas from food you’re cooking or baking
If you find a distraction like those mentioned above in your loved one’s environment, make an effort to remove the irritant. For instance, you might close the curtains, turn down the TV, or open the window to reduce cooking-related odors.
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. Scottsdale 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.
Older adults with dementia sometimes become agitated if they feel overwhelmed or confused when people are trying to talk to them or get them to complete certain tasks. Minimize this type of aggression with clear communication that includes:
- Breaking down tasks into multiple steps
- Looking for facial cues to see if your loved one understands what you’re saying
- Repeating what your loved one says if you don’t fully understand what he or she is requesting
Maintain a Consistent Routine
Changing your loved one’s routine isn’t a good idea if he or she is in an advanced stage of a dementia-related condition. Doing so can cause confusion that’s expressed as aggressive behavior. Maintain a consistent schedule with daily routines involving:
- Bathing and other grooming needs
- Medication distribution
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 home care service families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Allow Some Space
Some older adults with dementia exhibit aggression that includes physically and verbally combative behaviors. Once you make sure your loved one isn’t experiencing any pain, it may be best to give him or her some time and space to calm down, which will also give you a chance to rest and regroup.
Realize Certain Times of the Day Could Contribute to Aggression
Sundowning, a symptom associated with certain dementia-related conditions, results in late-day confusion, which means aggression could get worse in the late afternoon or evening. If this is a problem for your loved one, he or she may benefit from:
- Increased exposure to light for a couple of hours each morning*
- Regular activities throughout the day to avoid throwing off his or her sleep–wake schedule
- Smaller meal portions and light snacks in the afternoon and evening, since large meals sometimes increase agitation related to sundowning
*Research suggests light therapy reduces agitation related to sundowning
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be 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 Scottsdale senior 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. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your parent, give us a call at (480) 771-2710 today.