Caring for a loved one suffering from dementia can feel like a daily battle. You need to deal with the loss of a person who you once knew, yet you still love them wholeheartedly even through this change. You may witness new episodes of aggression and agitation and find it hard to predict when these behaviors will surface. There are techniques to help you better manage the challenges of dementia in a more mindful and effective way. Here are some ways for calming agitation in older adults.
Aggression and agitation are contagious. When you are speaking to someone who is feeling upset and agitated, it is natural for you to feel equally upset and agitated. This phenomenon is called mirroring which you can actually take advantage of. When you are sensing agitation from a loved one, the first thing you need to do is to remain calm. Take a deep breath to demonstrate calmness. This can reassure your loved ones and make them feel safe. Take a step back and try identifying the cause of the agitation. Remember that your loved one does not mean to intentionally make you feel upset. They are struggling just as much as you are.
Stop and slow down. Listen to what your loved one has to say even if it does not make any sense to you. Do not correct them as they may become even more agitated. Remember to again stay calm and take a deep breath. Smile gently at your loved one and offer help. Calmness always reassures those with dementia. They often become overwhelmed during a conversation or any situation and this is when you come in. Instead of rushing in with more questions, just pause. Silence will help your loved one to figure out what they were trying to say.
Focusing on Feelings
Dementia can affect a person’s ability to speak and reason. However, their feelings remain strong. You need to respond to their feelings instead of their words. Trying to argue or reason with a person with dementia will only end up with both of you feeling frustrated. Listen to their expression even if what they are saying is not making any sense. Once you have understood what they need, provide clear reassurance so they know that you are indeed listening.
Always respect your loved one. Respect can help foster effective communication with someone with dementia. More importantly, interact with your loved ones regularly while upholding their dignity. Although you may witness certain behaviors that cause you to become frustrated, remember that your loved one is struggling too deep inside. Avoid hurting their feelings which can, in turn, cause them to get agitated.
Dementia causes damage to the brain which makes your loved one have trouble with expressing their thoughts and performing different tasks. The brain can be overwhelmed with clutter, background noises, lights, or crowds. This overstimulation can stir feelings of restlessness. Create a more conducive environment for your loved ones where they can enjoy peace and quiet. There will be lesser risks of them becoming agitated when they are relaxed.