6 Suggestions for Managing a Combative Senior Who Has Dementia

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Combative behavior can pose challenges for caregivers of seniors with dementia. Combativeness can occur for no reason at all or as a result of a situation your aging loved one perceives as stressful. Fortunately, there are some effective ways to handle a combative loved one with dementia.

1. Watch Your Body Language

People with dementia may become combative in response to body language they perceive as threatening or confrontational. When physically approaching your loved one with dementia, do so slowly and with a smile. In addition, speak in a quiet, friendly voice and maintain a sense of calm regardless of the situation. A calm and kind demeanor can defuse a potentially volatile situation.

2. Create a Peaceful Environment

A noisy or busy environment could make your loved one agitated and combative. Creating a peaceful environment soothes those with dementia so they remain calm and less likely to display negative behaviors. Enhancing the environment with your loved one’s favorite music, pleasant scents, and memorable photos can evoke enjoyable memories and quickly reverse a negative mood. 

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Richmond seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

3. Show Empathy

If your loved one acts out aggressively, he or she may be unable to reason. Don’t become impatient or accusatory. Instead, let your loved one know you empathize with his or her feelings. When your loved one perceives you’re validating his or her feelings, combative behavior is less likely to occur. Your loved one may also feel more secure knowing you care and are willing to help.

4. Monitor Sleep Habits

If your loved one fails to get enough high-quality sleep, depression, anxiety, and combative behaviors may occur. Many factors can interrupt sleep, including side effects from certain medications, such as diuretics and decongestants. Other things that may interfere with sleep include being in a bedroom that’s too hot or cold, consuming caffeinated beverages before bed, using electronics such as laptops and cell phones close to bedtime, and getting overstimulated by the environment. Before bedtime, make sure the environment is peaceful and conducive to sleep. 

The cognitive challenges that accompany dementia often leave aging adults unable to manage everyday tasks, which puts their safety and health at risk. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of homecare families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

5. Ensure Comfort

When seniors with dementia are sick or otherwise uncomfortable, they may become combative in an effort to make their needs known. Combative behavior may simply be a way of getting your attention so you can help your loved one feel better. If your loved one has a fever or gastrointestinal symptoms, call his or her physician. These could be signs of an infection, which can cause unwanted behaviors.

6. Offer Choices

People with dementia often become frustrated when they aren’t given choices, and they may become combative and resentful. Give your loved one a few choices when it comes to dressing, foods, and even bedtime. Your loved one may feel more in control when he or she is given choices, which could reduce anxiety and aggression. 

Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Richmond elderly home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. If your loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at Richmond (804) 741-0009 or Williamsburg (757) 220-3151.