Ways Dementia Caregivers Can Handle Outbursts

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Handling Outbursts When Providing Dementia Care in Tampa Bay, FL

Some seniors with dementia, especially those in the later stages, demonstrate challenging behaviors such as outbursts. When this happens, it’s important for family members and caregivers to remember it isn’t their loved ones speaking—it’s the voice of dementia. With the deterioration of cognitive function, a senior with dementia has difficulty recognizing his or her needs, understanding how to meet them, and communicating. Outbursts may also be triggered by pain, physical discomfort, medication side effects, hallucinations, and boredom. Sometimes aggressive behavior is prompted by feeling rushed, afraid, or confused. Understanding the cause of an outburst is the first step toward resolving it. Here’s some advice for how to handle the storms that arise.

Aggressive Speech or Actions

Reflect on what happened just prior to the blow-up. Was something said that triggered the upset? Did the environment suddenly change, becoming too hot or cold? If you can determine the cause, the answer may naturally follow. If you can’t, try these suggestions:

  • Get your loved one’s attention. Address him or her by name. It also helps to eliminate distractions, such as those caused by a radio, TV, or other loud sounds.
  • Position yourself at an even level with your loved one and maintain eye contact.
  • Ask your loved one if he or she is in pain. If so, try to address the source.
  • Although it’s challenging, try to speak in a calm and reassuring manner. Use non-threatening facial expressions and body language. Smile if you can.
  • If the behavior isn’t harmful, try accommodating it. For example, if your loved one insists on hoarding things in her pockets, just let it go until day’s end.
  • Try shifting to another activity that will reduce anxiety. If your loved one finds touch soothing, stroke his or her arm. Put on favorite music he or she enjoys.

Symptoms such as agitation, confusion, anger, and frustration are common in elderly people with dementia. Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Clearwater 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.

Confusion Regarding People, Time, or Place

Seniors with dementia may not recognize other people, even family members and close friends. They may also be mistaken about the time, date, or year or fail to understand where they are. Sometimes, seniors with memory impairment also experience confusion related to the purpose of an object, such as a fork. Try to reorient your loved one by doing the following:

  • Introduce yourself or other people your loved one doesn’t recognize.
  • Gently remind your loved one of the time and day. Show him or her a clock or calendar.
  • Tell your parent where he or she is.
  • Try to rule out sensory deficits as the cause of confusion. Make sure your loved one is wearing his or her hearing aids or eyeglasses.
  • For confusion about how to use an item, you can demonstrate or explain the purpose.
  • Endeavor to maintain a regular routine. Knowing what to expect can prevent confusion.

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 home care service families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.


Disorientation and memory loss can spark suspicion. There may be an accusation of theft or intent to harm. If this happens:

  • Try to not take it personally. Remind yourself it’s the disease talking.
  • Avoid arguing or trying to prove innocence. Let delusions and misstatements go by unchallenged.
  • Use validation by saying “I understand you’re upset.” If an object is misplaced, say “I’ll help you find what’s missing.” If your loved one feels offended, reply with “I love you very much.”
  • If items are routinely lost, keep a supply of backups.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging task for anyone. The responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but help is available. 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 Clearwater in-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. Contact one of our experienced Care Managers today at (727) 330-7862 to learn more about our reliable in-home care services.

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