Dementia Care: How To Manage Challenging Behaviors
Written by Joy de Guzman
Dementia care can often involve difficult behavioural problems. You may have already experienced some tough moments with your loved one. If you weren't sure how to handle them, you wouldn't be alone. It takes some awareness and practice, but you can learn how to prevent agitation and how to calm your loved one when necessary.
Free Bonus: Click here to get access to a free EBOOK that shows you how to recognize the warning signs that your aging parent may not be safe at home.
Take Note of Your Loved One’s Behaviours
One of the very best ways to manage an anxious situation is to prevent it from ever happening. It is much easier to manage early signs of agitation and anxiety than to deal with escalated behaviours. Study your loved one’s behavioural patterns closely to get these important clues.
- What does your loved one’s behaviour look like when they are calm? Think of facial expressions, hand movements, posture, and speech patterns.
- When you observe them getting stressed or anxious, what are their first trigger signs? Think of behaviours like pacing, furrowed brows, muttering, vocal changes, squeezing hands, etc.
Manage Your Own Behavioural Responses
Your body language is important when it comes to managing your loved one’s anxiety. These tips can help you understand how to use supportive non-threatening behaviours when near them.
- Approach your loved one from the front when possible. This reduces the element of surprise and allows them to see your face coming toward them.
- If you see early signs of agitation or anxiety, stand a little to the side so you don’t appear to be challenging them in a stand-off. For the same reason, avoid putting both hands on your hips or crossing your arms at that moment.
- Move slowly around them so they are not alarmed.
- Unless you truly know that a supportive touch will help calm your loved one, keep your hands to yourself. Otherwise, touch can make anxiety worse. Instead, wait until they appear truly calm again to offer a touch of reassurance.
Defusing an Escalating Dementia Care Situation
When you can tell that your loved one’s anxiety is in full swing, you’ll need to respond quickly. Take note of these important tips:
- Continue using the non-threatening behaviour discussed above. Do your best to appear composed and calm.
- Avoid arguing or continuing a conversation that seems stressful to your loved one. Don’t engage if they try to verbally provoke you.
- Sometimes silence is a good response. If you do speak, use short sentences.
- Listen for or consider what could be the real problem. Could they be tired, hungry, not feeling well, or bothered by a recent change? If you think you understand, restate it clearly.
- Reflect their emotion back to them – "I see that really upset you.” “ Seems like that made you really sad."
- Take a step back, literally. If you are standing too close to your loved one while they are agitated, they may stay more upset or even strike you.
- Once your loved one is calm again, try to reconnect and see what they need next.
- If you are having trouble de-escalating them or the situation becomes dangerous, contact someone for help right away.
Dementia care can be challenging, especially when your loved one becomes agitated and stressed. Tell us about ways you keep them relaxed. If you’ve had some difficult moments managing their behaviour, what helped the most? Have you considered senior care options such as home care assistance?
If you need help managing your aging loved one who is living with dementia, contact or call us today at (877) 365-2233