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5 Strategies for Soothing an Elderly Loved One with Dementia

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Aging adults with dementia experience frustration, anxiety, and distress just like every other adult. In those with dementia, these feelings can manifest themselves with the aging adult acting angry, agitated, and/or aggressive. Help your senior loved one calm down and figure out the reason behind the behavior with these five tips.

1. Mimic the Distress

Though this method may seem counterintuitive, it can actually be helpful to pretend you’re also in distress about the situation. Being upset alongside your loved one may show you’re on his or her “side.” While mimicking your loved one’s feelings, try to pick up on clues as to what triggered the anger to provide corrective actions.

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.

2. Remove the Trigger

If you can figure out why your loved one is agitated, either remove what triggered the episode or work to avoid it in the future. Many aging adults with dementia who are acting angry simply don’t have the words to describe how they’re feeling in the situation. Making notes of possible triggers and working out solutions to change or prevent them in the future can keep agitation from occurring. For example, you may be at your child’s ball game when the crowd begins loudly cheering, causing your loved one to become startled and agitated. Noise cancellation headphones or sitting away from the crowd could prevent episodes in the future.

3. Gently Touch Your Loved One

Gentle touches may calm your loved one and instill trust in you. If your loved one is holding out his or her hands, try the “hand under hand” method. This method creates a bond and may help your loved one feel comforted. Place your hand under your loved one’s and gently grasp it. Don’t force the gesture, and let go if he or she begins to pull away. If your loved one isn’t holding out his or her hands, offer yours. When holding hands, try standing on your loved one’s dominant side to get the greatest benefit from the exercise.

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

4. Try Playing Music

Music has a strong effect on seniors with dementia. Research from the Alzheimer’s Association has found listening to music releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that spreads feelings of happiness and pleasure in the brain and body. Try playing calming classical music or music your loved one enjoyed in his or her younger years for the best results.

5. Practice Deep Breathing

Once your loved one has calmed slightly, help him or her relax with deep breathing. Face your loved one and hold hands, using the “hand under hand” method if possible. Take a deep breath in, hold it for a second, then slowly let it out. Repeat several times until your loved one is mimicking your actions. Increasing the amount of oxygen to the brain can calm seniors as well as lower the heart rate and blood pressure after being upset.

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 Scottsdale at-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. Contact one of our experienced Care Managers today at 480.448.6215 to learn more about our reliable in-home dementia care services.