Aggression is one of the symptoms displayed by individuals with dementia. Aggressive behavior can be intimidating and hurtful when we are trying to help our loved ones. However, it is important to know that there are multiple reasons why our loved one is behaving as such and that the aggressive behavior is not done out of malicious intent.
Some of the possible reasons why aggression in dementia is being displayed could be a distressing situation, feeling pain or discomfort, feeling unheard or misunderstood, as well as feeling threatened or frightened. It is important to try to understand the message behind the behavior to help your loved one to resolve the problem. How could we resolve the conflict effectively and manage the aggressive behavior in dementia?
Identify The Cause or Trigger
Prior to the outburst of rage, were there any triggers or causes for concern? For instance, your loved one might be brought to somewhere unfamiliar and out of their comfort zone. You should also check if your loved one is in pain or discomfort that results in aggression as they might not be able to express themselves. Identifying the cause or trigger of the aggression can help you resolve the problem and comfort your loved one while avoiding similar occurrences in the future.
You can calm your loved one down by offering reassurance with a gentle tone and tender touch. Speak at a softer and slower pace, while using reassuring and positive words, such as “I am here for you”, or “Everything will be okay”. If possible, you can use a tender touch with a reassuring hand on their shoulder to provide comfort. Even though it can be frustrating for you in the heat of the moment, it is important to remain calm as reacting in an agitated manner could escalate the behavior of your loved one.
A crowded and noisy environment can contribute to the discomfort of your loved one, triggering aggressive behavior. If your loved one shows aggression, you can take measures to provide a calming environment, such as by turning off the television or asking others to leave the room. If applicable, you can play a soft calming music that they like or hum a familiar tune.
You can also redirect them to a place where they feel comfortable, such as their bedroom, and redirect their attention to familiar objects that keep them calm. The familiar objects should be those that are meaningful to them, such as a family portrait or a memorable soft toy.
If all else fails, it might be best for everybody to leave the room to give your loved one some space to calm down and regulate their emotions. Do ensure that the room is a safe space that they can stay in with no dangerous objects.
If you require help with managing your loved one’s aggressive behavior, memory care communities are a great option to consider. TerraBella Southport offers person-focused memory care amenities and plans a variety of fun activities for individuals with dementia. Our memory care professionals designed these activities to help our residents stay active and encourage physical, mental, and spiritual engagement. Partaking in these group activities can help your loved ones have fun while redirecting their energy, minimizing aggressive behavior.