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How To Calm Down A Person With Dementia

Confirm Understanding Of What Has Been Said

How to CALM or EXCITE Your Person w/ Dementia to Help FIX Behaviors

Words used by a person with dementia dont always make sense. If you have a good relationship with and knowledge of the person you can probably guess the meaning. But it is important not to assume what has been said. Try to check you are on the right track by repeating a word or phrase used, or suggest other words to confirm understanding of what has been said.

Emotions And Touch Awareness

How does the person look? What emotions are they showing? Being sensitive to the persons mood can offer an opportunity to begin a conversation . Does the person respond to touch in a positive way? A light touch on the back of the hand can often feel reassuring and non-threatening. If the person moves their hand away from you, take your cue from them and be careful how you use touch. If the person takes the opportunity to clasp your hand this may be an indication that they need more physical reassurance and support. With people who are quite withdrawn, a gentle touch on the cheek can be a way of getting them to look at you. Again be sensitive to their reaction to the touch and take your lead from them.

Do Not Try To Stop A Person Who Wants To Leave A Room

Staying in one place for long periods may result in behavior problems in the dementia patient. It is essential to have a safe environment where they can enjoy the outdoors without any problem. When someone tries to leave a room, do not force them to stop. Doing this may result in an extreme reaction such as severe distress or injuries.

Instead, it is best to accompany the patient so that they are safe. You can even suggest going for a drive around the block so that they can experience a new environment for a short period. If they do not want company, just let them go but stay close by to make sure that the patient is safe at all times.

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Rummaging And Hiding Things

Caring for a patient who rummages around or hides things in the home can be a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.

Rummaging/hiding things behavior management
Protecting property
Lock certain rooms or cabinets to protect their contents, and lock up all valuables.
Have mail delivered out of reach of your loved oneperhaps to a post office box.
If items do disappear, learn the persons preferred hiding places.
Restrict access to trashcans, and check all wastebaskets before disposing of their contents in case objects have been hidden there.
Protecting your loved one from harm
Prevent access to unsafe substances, such as cleaning products, alcohol, firearms, power tools, sharp knives, and medications.
Block unused electrical outlets with childproofing devices. Hide stove knobs so the person cant turn on the burners.
Lower the temperature on water heaters.
Designate a special drawer of items that the person can safely play with when keen to rummage.

How To Handle Aggressive Or Combative Behavior

How To Calm Down A Dementia Patient

A lot of times, aggression is coming from pure fear, says Tresa Mariotto, a social services supervisor in Bellingham, Washington, and certified trainer in dementia and mental health. People with dementia are more likely to hit, kick, or bite in response to feeling helpless or afraid. Managing aggression can be stressful for both you and your loved one.

  • Try to identify the behaviors cause.
  • Keep your tone light and supportive.
  • Redirect your loved one by involving them in another activity or conversation.
  • Remove your loved one from surroundings or environments that may be overstimulating during an outburst.

This is where truly knowing your loved one is so important, says Ann Napoletan, writer at the blog;The Long and Winding Road: An Alzheimers Journey and Beyond. In my moms case, she didnt like to be fussed over. If she was upset, oftentimes, trying to talk to her and calm her down only served to agitate her more. Likewise, touching her even to try and hold her hand or gently rub her arm or leg might result in her taking a swing. The best course of action, in that case, was to walk away and let her have the space she needed.

Natural reactions to dementia behaviors can be ineffective or make the situation worse.


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Preventing And Handling Anger In Alzheimers Care

The more you are able to understand your loved ones aggressive triggers, the easier it will become to avoid those triggers and prevent anger outbursts. That said, it isnt always possible to avoid certain triggers. Because of this, it is important that you know how best to handle outbursts of anger, including both verbal and physical aggression.

Here are some guidelines for managing anger outbursts in Alzheimers care recipients:

  • If you can determine the cause of their distress, see if it is possible to alleviate or solve the issue. This can stop an issue from becoming worse, and often helps dispel their anger.
  • Avoid physical contact and NEVER react to violence with force, unless your personal safety or the safety of someone else is threatened. Trying to take physical control of a dementia sufferer often increases their anger and aggression.
  • Use a calm tone of voice and avoid outward displays of distress, upset, anger, or fear. These signs are often detected by the angry person and will likely make their own distress and agitation worse.
  • If possible, remove yourself from the room or situation. Give yourself and the person time to calm down. This will make it easier for you to react and may defuse or dispel their anger.
  • Be kind and reassuring at all times. Do not attempt to argue or reason with the person. Instead, be sympathetic and accepting of their anger and frustration.

Why Not Try This

Challenging dementia behaviors can be super-stressful. This basic approach can help stretch your patience and move you both toward a more peaceful quality of life.

Best of all, you can start using the Why-This, Try-This approach right away, even if youve been responding differently before.

To make these steps simple to refer to, Ive compiled a free downloadable PDF, 7 Steps to Managing Difficult Dementia Behaviors Without Medication, A Surviving Alzheimers Cheatsheet.

Get Your Free Managing Dementia Behaviors Cheatsheet.

Questions, suggestions, or try tips that work well for you? Please post them below!

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimers: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers;. You can learn more at

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Tips For Common Behavior And Mood Changes

Aggressive & Threatening Behavior

Sometimes things can get out of control and feel very scary. These are tips and strategies for dealing with especially challenging behaviors. If you think that you or others may be in immediate danger, call 911.


The person with dementia is threatening you or acting physically violent, such as hitting, pushing, or kicking you

  • Give the person space and time to calm down.
  • Stay out of arms reach and position yourself near the exit.
  • Avoid small spaces like kitchens, bathrooms and cars.
  • Remove or secure objects that could be used as weapons.
  • Reduce background noise .
  • Keep a phone with you in case you need to call for help.
  • Go outside, to a neighbors house, or public place if needed to stay safe.
  • Take a deep breath and try to stay calm.
  • Listen.
  • Empathize/apologize: I am sorry this is so frustrating.
  • Offer reassurance: I know this is difficult. It is going to be okay, or I am here to help.
  • Give yourself a break; take time to care for your own needs.
  • Get help .
  • Tell the dispatcher your name and location and that your family member has dementia. Tell the dispatcher if a weapon is involved.

The person with dementia is angry and accusing you of something that is not true, such as stealing from or cheating on them

The person with dementia is throwing fits or having emotional outbursts, such as yelling, screaming, or banging on things

Anxiety Related to Dementia


  • Regular exercise may be another outlet for nervous energy.
  • Apathy

    Aggressive Behaviour In Dementia

    Coronavirus and Dementia Q2: How to calm down and support the person with dementia?

    In the later stages of dementia, some people with dementia will develop whats known as behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia .

    The symptoms of BPSD can include:

    • increased agitation
    • delusions
    • hallucinations

    These types of behaviours are very distressing for the carer and for the person with dementia.

    Its very important to ask your doctor to rule out or treat any underlying causes, such as:

    If the person youre caring for behaves in an aggressive way, try to stay calm and avoid confrontation. You may have to leave the room for a while.

    If none of the coping strategies works, an antipsychotic medicine can be prescribed as a short-term treatment. This should be prescribed by a consultant psychiatrist.

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    If You’re Looking After Someone With Dementia

    Your needs as a carer are as important as the person you’re caring for.

    To help care for yourself:

    • join a local carers’ support group or a specialist dementia organisation â for more details, call the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053; lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm at weekends
    • call Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline free on 0800 888 6678 to talk to a registered specialist dementia nurse; lines are open 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm at weekends

    Throw Reasoning Out The Window

    Your logic has no place in the world of dementia. Telling Mom this you did not take her to New Orleans will never convince her. Yes, you know that you simply took her out for a meal. But if she wants to tell your sister that the two of you went to New Orleans let her. Correcting her will only cause her to be upset. Explain to your sister later if need be. For some reason, a memory was triggered in her mind. It may have been several memories that were mixed together to create this new story of going to New Orleans. And if that makes her happy, so be it! This is one of the best ways to help someone with dementia calm down. After all, we all want to feel validated, dont we?

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    Know Where To Find Help

    As your loved ones disease progresses, you may need additional support and help providing adequate memory care. Preparing for this reality in advance is beneficial to both you and your senior loved one. Trained assisted living professionals are able to meet the unique needs of Alzheimers and dementia patients.

    To learn more about memory care and how specialized care can help, please call ComfortCare Home of Wichita at; 444-0532.

    Additional Resources

    Do Not Ignore Physical Abuse

    Pin on Dementia

    As much as one needs to be tolerant, kind, forgiving, and patient with older adults who have dementia, it does not mean that they have to excuse the patients when they become physically aggressive and allow the abuse to continue. It is not to be accepted, and if it happens, it is best to alert your doctor who will work on the solution to make sure it stops. It will keep both the patient and caregiver in safety.

    From physical manifestations to angry outbursts, taking care of an individual with dementia may not be easy. However, working with the tips above can help caregivers and loved ones to get through it. Remember that there are plenty of treatments, interventions and special care providers who can help; therefore, you should never be shy about getting help when you need it.

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    Create A Calm And Soothing Environment

    The environment and atmosphere you create while caregiving can play a large part in helping an Alzheimers or dementia patient feel calm and safe.

    Modify the environment to reduce potential stressors that can create agitation and disorientation. These include loud or unidentifiable noises, shadowy lighting, mirrors or other reflecting surfaces, garish colors, and patterned wallpaper.

    Maintain calm within yourself. Getting anxious or upset in response to problem behavior can increase the patients stress. Respond to the emotion being communicated by the behavior, not the behavior itself. Try to remain flexible, patient, and relaxed. If you find yourself becoming anxious or losing control, take time out to cool down.

    Ways To Calm An Aging Loved One With Dementia

    By Zareena Khan 9 am on January 30, 2019

    Aggressive behaviors, both verbal and physical, are common in seniors with dementia. These behavioral changes can occur instantly, for no reason at all. As a family caregiver, you need to calm your frustrated loved one without making the situation worse. Here are some of the ways you can calm an aging parent with dementia.

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    Anxiety Complicates Life For Dementia Patients And Their Caregivers

    Late one night, the phone rings. Its my mom. I brace myself and pick up.

    The Baltimore police just called, she says. Your brother is in jail!

    I know well, Im pretty certain that my brother, who lives hundreds of miles from Baltimore and is a law-abiding family man, isnt in jail, but that doesnt really matter. Right now, the point is to calm my mom down.

    So, I tell my mom that Ill figure it out and get back to her. I take a deep breath and send a quick text to my brother, who confirms hes nowhere near Baltimore or a jail cell and promises to call her right away. I call my mom back a few minutes later, and on this night, the calls do the trick. Everything is okay again, for the moment.

    In recent months, Ive gotten quite a few perplexing and frantic calls as my kind, intelligent, 91-year-old mom struggles with Alzheimers disease.

    Unfortunately, she is one of many people whose descent into dementia has been twinned with a surge of anxious thoughts. Anxiety isnt a cognitive issue per se, but its definitely a symptom that makes life much harder for caregiver and patient alike. Just imagine being stuck in your worst worries.

    Anxiety may be part of the disease process, she said.

    For caregivers, identifying patients anxiety triggers can be helpful.

    On a positive note, Drew and others gave me credit for not telling my mom the police story was absurd but simply accepting it taking it seriously but not escalating the situation.

    How To Deal With Dementia Behavior Problems

    Pacing or Searching? How to help your Person with Dementia Calm Down
    • How to Deal with Dementia Behavior Problems: 19 Dos and Donts

    Dementia is a disease that affects millions of people across the globe every year. It is often a highly misunderstood condition that is marred by numerous misconceptions, which make the condition difficult to understand and study.

    You should know that dementia is not a name for an illness, rather it is a collective term that describes a broad range of symptoms that relate to declining of thinking, memory, and cognitive skills. These symptoms have deteriorating effects that usually affect how a patient acts and engages in the day-to-day activities.

    In advanced dementia stages, affected persons may experience symptoms that bring out a decline in rational thought, intellect, social skills, memory, and normal emotional reactivity. It is something that can make them powerless when it comes to living normal, healthy lives.

    Relatives, caregivers, spouses, siblings, children and anyone close to a person who has dementia need to know how to deal with behavioral problems that surface because of the illness. Examples of dementia problems may include aggressiveness, violence and oppositional behaviors. Find out some of the vital Do and Donts when dealing with a dementia patient.

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    Tips For Communicating With A Person With Dementia

    Dementia affects everyone differently so it’s important to communicate in a way that is right for the person. Listen carefully and think about what you’re going to say and how you’ll say it. You can also communicate meaningfully without using spoken words.

    These tips apply to however the person usually communicates, for example speaking English or signing British Sign Language.

    Every persons experience of dementia is unique, so not every tip may be helpful to the person you care for. Use the tips that you feel will improve communication between you.;

    Before you communicate

    S To Managing Difficult Dementia Behaviors

    1. REASSURE the person

    The hard truth: the person with dementia cant change the way he or she is. You have to change your reaction and the environment or situation.

    So putting the person first in your thinking as you react is paramount.

    Reassuring brings anxiety, upset, or other stress down a notch. It communicates Im on your side. I take you seriously. Not feeling understood makes anyone more distressed. For someone with dementia, you create a floor to what must feel like bottomless uneasiness.

    The catch: To reassure someone else, we first have to collect our own feelings. This can be hard because these are almost always emotionally charged situations!

    Its easy to feel annoyed when your parent is about to drive off yet another caregiver with false accusations.; Or scared when your spouse lashes out or hits.; Or embarrassed when Moms blouse comes off. Or worried Dad will fall or get lost. We want to REACT!

    Showing emotional intensity only makes things worse. It puts the other person on the defensive and adds to their instability . Also, people with dementia tend to be very sensitive to others moods, mirroring their demeanor. If youre upset, theyre apt to continue to be upset or become more upset. If youre calm and reassuring, you have a much better chance of transmitting that state.

    How to reassure:

    Approach slowly and from the front. Youre less likely to startle, confuse, or provoke.

    2. REVIEW the possible causes

    How to try to understand the WHY:

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