Tips for dealing with aggression in people with dementia

Many people are unaware that aggression can be a common behaviour that results from a person having dementia. It can be incredibly distressing for the person suffering and for their family and friends who may be doing their best to look after them.

The aggression can be verbal such as swearing, shouting or making threats or physical such as scratching, hitting and pinching.

There are many reasons why a person with dementia can become aggressive, it can often be born out of frustration or not being able to communicate what they want/need with family or carers. They may be in pain or discomfort or it may be a side effect of medication.

It could also be because their environment is too overwhelming, they may be feeling lonely or bored or it may be a result of depression or other mental health problems.

It is very likely that the person is not being aggressive on purpose, but it can still prove difficult to respond to their needs and offer comfort.

Our carers are experts at dealing with service users with dementia and they have shared some tips for how you can immediately deal with a person with dementia being aggressive:

  • Make sure you are safe – step back and give yourself and the person you’re caring for some space and make sure you are both safe. The space will also allow the person to calm down
  • Stay calm – an angry response will make the situation worse. The person with dementia will see any shouting or physical contact towards them as threatening and may become worse
  • Try not to show fear or alarm – speak in reassuring, calmed tones
  • Keep body language friendly – avoid crossed arms and mirror the person’s own body language so they know you are on their side
  • Listen to what the person is saying and try to figure out how you can help – they are probably trying to communicate a problem to you but are struggling to do so

The most important thing to do is to communicate so you can work out a solution to the problem together. We’ll also be posting some top tips from our carers on how to prevent and manage aggressive behaviour so check back here soon.

If you are still struggling to care for a loved-one with dementia that is being aggressive, you may need some extra support and we can provide carers to do this, just get in touch with us to discuss.