Dementia has become a common age related issue in modern families. It has a serious behavioural impact on attitude of the suffering person. People with dementia may sometimes behave in ways that are physically or verbally aggressive. This can be very distressing for the person and for those supporting them, including their family and friends. It can also often be a factor in the decision to move the person with dementia into a care home.
This aggressive behaviour may be of different kinds.
Verbal – for example swearing, screaming, shouting or making threats
Physical – for example hitting, pinching, scratching, hair-pulling or biting.
Aggression may be linked to the person’s personality and behaviour before they developed dementia. Aggression is one of a number of behaviours – often referred to as ‘behaviours that challenge’ – that can result from dementia.
It could be related to the person’s physical needs (including health problems), social needs (how they’re relating to other people) or psychological needs (their thoughts and feelings).
✓ The person may be in pain, unwell or in discomfort.
✓ Side effects of medications, or taking too many, may mean that a person becomes more confused and drowsy.
✓ There may be something about the environment that is wrong for the person with dementia.
✓ Poor eyesight or hearing can lead to misunderstandings and misperceptions
✓ Hallucinations or delusions.
✓ The person may be feeling lonely. They may not spend much time with others, or when others are there they may not feel included or valued.
✓ They may be bored, not have much to do or do not have much to stimulate their senses.
✓ The person may be trying to hide their condition from others.
✓ The person may feel that their rights are not being respected or that they are being ignored.
✓ They may become frustrated at not being able to complete tasks, such as making a cup of tea.
✓ They may have depression or other mental health problems.
✓ They may misunderstand the intentions of the person caring for them. For example, personal care may be seen as threatening or invading their personal space.
✓ The person may feel threatened by an environment that appears strange or unfamiliar. ✓ They may think that they are in the wrong place or that there are strangers in their home.
Tips on how to respond to aggression :
It is difficult to know how to react to a person showing aggressive behaviour. The following points can be helpful:-
✓ Before you react, take a deep breath, step back to give the person space and take some time.
✓ Try to stay calm. An angry response may make the situation worse.
✓ Make sure you are safe. You should never tolerate violence against you.
✓ Give them plenty of space and time.
✓ Try not to shout or initiate physical contact.
✓ Keep eye contact and try to explain calmly why you are there. Encourage the person to communicate with you.
Aggression can surely be the worst part for a patient as well as the caretaker, but you are never powerless. Keeping in mind above mentioned pointers, you can frame a number of strategies to handle people with dementia and aggression.
If you have any other strategy to handle Dementia and Aggression, don’t forget to share with us.
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