Unfortunately, frustration and anger are not uncommon symptoms of dementia. Those with dementia can get confused and frightened easily, most likely causing them to be angry and aggressive. They also can reach a breaking point from built-up frustrations of attempting their everyday tasks. This can lead them to yell, kick, push, or even bite people around them, including their caregiver. Thankfully, there are effective strategies you can take to reduce confusing and frightening situations for your loved one with dementia.
Being in a noisy, high-energy environment can overwhelm the senses and stress those with dementia when they are trying to think. For someone with dementia, everyday tasks can be difficult and already require extra thought and concentration. When noise and lots of people are added to the situation, it would naturally frustrate and stress your loved one.
Establishing a routine can reduce the amount of thinking and the number of decisions that need to be made daily. Those with dementia can face difficulty when making decisions revolving around their day to day which can cause frustration. However, if you already set a routine for them such as when they should shower and eat dinner, it can make them feel more relaxed and at ease in their everyday life.
A simple task such as eating dinner can be overwhelming for those with dementia. They may struggle with deciding what meal to have or what time to eat. Ease their stress in their everyday tasks by presenting them with limited, straightforward options to choose from. For example, allow them to pick only between having lasagna or pizza for dinner. The goal isn’t to take their right away to choose, but to simplify the choices they would have difficulty making.
Some people with dementia may have certain triggers that cause them to be angry and aggressive. The key is to remove these triggers from their environment whether it be avoiding playing a specific type of music or a particular T.V. channel. If you are in a situation where you can’t remove triggers, you can distract them. For example, if vacuuming upsets them, you can move them to another room to listen to their favorite music so they can’t hear you while cleaning.
When someone has dementia, their cognitive process significantly slows down. Your loved one will need a lot more time to think, speak, and take action than at the normal pace you’re used to. You can reduce their stress and allow them to feel successful if you don’t rush them through their daily life and let them move at their own pace.
Give your loved one time and space if they are getting frustrated. Do not physically restrain them unless they are a danger to others or themselves and there is no alternative. Also, avoid arguing as it can lead to more anger. Instead, make sure they are safe and allow them to have time on their own to calm down.
Although it is not possible to completely prevent anger and aggression for those with dementia, these steps allow you not only to manage these symptoms but also make everyday life easier for your loved one.
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