Redirecting A Combative Senior with Dementia

Dementia Care Aggressive behavior is a normal symptom of dementia and outbursts are not unusual. We compiled some tips that can make things a little easier for both the person with dementia and the caregiver.

  1. Try to first rule out pain or illness as a cause.
    The person you are caring for could have a headache, be feeling fatigued, or may be experiencing something more serious such as a urinary tract infection. It’s very important for the caregiver to be vigilant and monitor their loved one’s physical condition by observing any mood changes or changes in behavior. Be sure that the person is safe and if necessary, call for help.
  2. Use a calm tone and a gentle, reassuring touch.
    How you speak to your loved one is important in how the episode will play out. They may not be capable of expressing their own needs, but they can certainly pick up on your moods. Use a gentle tone of voice but do not be condescending. Do not push them or demand that they do something. Maintain a respectful tone by simply asking or suggesting.
  3. Validate their feelings.
    If the person you’re caring for is being combative without an obvious reason, it could be that they are having negative feelings such as sadness, loneliness, or frustration. Reassure them that it’s okay to feel this way and that you are there to help them.
  4. Play their favorite music.
    Studies show that dementia patients can recall memories and emotions and have enhanced mental performance when listening to music they enjoy and are familiar with such as music from their generation. The music is calming to them and it can shift the mood, manage stress, and stimulate positive interactions. Because of this positive effect, music therapy is now used in many nursing homes and senior facilities.
  5. Shift the focus and keep it simple.
    One example is, if the person resists showering, instead of saying “I need you to come to the bathroom so you can take a shower and shave and I need to wash your hair”, a simple “Dad, we’re going to the bathroom” is easier to comprehend.

Getting to the root cause of outbursts can be helpful in managing behavior more effectively and may lessen the frequency of agitation and aggression.  Allcare Home Health offers options for overwhelmed family caregivers including in-home dementia and Alzheimer’s care. Fill out our online contact form or call (919) 301-0236 us today to schedule a new client assessment with one of our experienced nurses.

Ref:,, A Place For Mom