Of the many complex behaviors that tend to present in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps the most troublesome is physical violence. Even a previously quiet, timid senior can be susceptible to aggressive meltdowns, particularly in the later stages of the disease, as a result of an array of factors: a lack of self-control and inhibition, psychological and mental distress, physical pain or discomfort. When unable to communicate in the right way, the senior might have no alternative option but to fall back on the combativeness to express his or her needs.
The Topeka dementia care team at Grace Home Care can help. When in the midst of a violent outburst, keep the following in mind:
- Make sure you are calm – and safe. As difficult as it is to keep your cool when confronted by someone who is hitting, biting, scratching, or throwing objects, yelling or losing your patience will only escalate the older person’s behaviors. Step back to ensure your safety, take a deep breath, and count to ten prior to responding.
- Identify what’s leading to the outburst. It’s important to try to understand what induced the violent behavior. Is the senior hungry? Too warm or cold? In need of a clean incontinence product? Has something taken place to lead to feelings of anger, shame, or aggravation? Is the person in any physical pain?
- The ideal reaction is often distraction. Once you’ve confirmed that the person’s primary needs are all met and hopefully were able to discern the underlying cause driving the behavior, restoring contentment often can be achieved with a change in location or activity. Turn on some favorite music, browse through a photograph album, go outside for some fresh air and show the senior the flowers, trees, birds.
Keep in mind as well that as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Staying with a consistent routine of meals, snacks, rest, and exercise is essential for those with dementia. It’s also insightful to keep a log to record what’s causing violent outbursts, the times of day they seem to be happening, and what has helped (or not helped).
Most importantly, however, is making sure that your own needs for self-care are met. Providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is depleting, both mentally and physically. Engaging the services of a qualified respite care provider with expertise in providing the specialized Alzheimer’s care Topeka seniors need is the ideal solution for both the older person with dementia and the family members providing care.
At Grace Home Care, we enable family caregivers the opportunity to take much-needed time to relax and recharge with our professional, fully trained Topeka dementia care experts. Reach out to us for a free in-home consultation to learn more at 708-286-2273.