Of the many challenging behaviors that can arise in those with Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps the most difficult is physical violence. Even a formerly mild-mannered elder can be prone to outbursts, particularly in the later stages of the disease, resulting from a variety of factors: a loss of self-control and inhibition, emotional distress, physical pain or discomfort. When no longer able to communicate appropriately, the person may have no alternative but to resort to aggression to express his or her needs.
- Remain calm – and safe. As hard as it is to keep your cool when confronted with someone who is hitting, biting, scratching, or throwing objects, raising your voice or losing your patience will only escalate the elder’s behaviors. Step back to ensure your safety, take a deep breath, and count to 10 before reacting.
- Determine what’s causing the outburst. It’s important to try to figure out what triggered the violent behavior. Is the elder hungry? Too hot or cold? In need of a clean incontinence product? Has something occurred to cause anger, embarrassment, or frustration? Is the person in any physical pain?
- The best reaction is often distraction. Once you’ve determined that the person’s basic needs are all met and hopefully were able to discern the root cause behind the behavior, restoring peace often can be accomplished through a change in environment or activity. Play some favorite music, look through a photo album, go outside for some fresh air and point out the birds, trees, flowers.
And as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sticking to a regular routine of meals, snacks, rest, and exercise is important for those with dementia. It’s also helpful to keep a journal to document what’s causing violent outbursts, the times of day they seem to be occurring, and what has worked (or not worked).
Most importantly, however, is making sure your own needs for self-care are met. Providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is draining, both emotionally and physically. Partnering with a professional respite care provider with expertise in providing the specialized Alzheimer’s care Towson, MD elders need, is the perfect solution for both the elder with dementia and the family providing care.
At Absolute Companion Care, we enable family caregivers the opportunity to take much-needed time to relax and recharge with our highly skilled, compassionate dementia care specialists. Contact us for a free in-home consultation to learn more at 410-357-9640.