Dealing with anger and aggression when caring for our loved ones can be difficult, but understanding how to react correctly can help prevent a fallout.
Caring for our loved ones with dementia can be challenging, especially at times when they respond with harsh words or physical violence. While it’s normal to feel surprised, discouraged, hurt, and even frustrated when this happens, understanding that the person with dementia is not acting this way on purpose can help. Here are some tips on how to respond to aggression and anger that will hopefully help you cope with a tricky situation better.
Don’t react in the heat of the moment, an angry response is more likely to escalate the situation. Take a deep breath, and if your loved one is in a safe place, step outside to give both of you some space and time. You’ll be able to respond better when you’re calm.
Keep yourself safe
If your loved one reacts with violence, try not to show any fear or alarm as this may agitate them further. Try and defuse the situation by speaking in a soft tone and see if this helps reduce your loved one’s aggression. Avoid moving too close or trying to restrain them unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you do feel threatened, it is okay to walk away from the situation and ask for help.
Identify the cause
Was there anything that happened before the reaction? Has this happened before? By asking yourself questions like this, you can try and see if there’s a common trigger that causes your loved one to react aggressively. If there isn’t, don’t fret. It could just be a bad day for them.
Use a distraction
Try playing a song you know they really like while giving them some space before you try and approach your loved one again. If you’ve identified a consistent trigger, like being asked to take a shower, you can also try putting on some music for a few minutes before asking your loved one if they’d like to shower.
Consider a day care programme
Consider enrolling your loved one in ADA’s New Horizon Centres or Family of Wisdom Centres. Our day care services can help give you some relief and increase your ability to and continue caring for your loved one. We also engage with clients through meaningful activities that are intended to improve the well-being of persons with dementia.
Consult a professional
If aggression and violent behaviours are becoming a common occurence and it is putting your loved one or the people around them in danger, there’s no shame in consulting a professional. While medication should never be the first choice in responding to challenging behaviours, it may be necessary at times. Professionals can also counsel or train you to alleviate the situation.