Dementia Patients with Challenging Behaviour: How Caregivers Can Handle It

A challenging stage of dementia may arise in some dementia patients. This is a common part of the illness that occurs due to brain damage. Even if your elderly parent has always had a friendly and non-violent nature throughout their life, it can still happen.

People with dementia may lash out when they’re scared, upset, furious, or in pain. They sometimes feel uncomfortable because they can’t express their concerns clearly. Some reactions in older people can include behaviours like shouting, screaming, pushing, and throwing objects.

It can be frightening and challenging for carers to deal with these outbursts. Your instincts may urge you to contradict and fight back because you feel attacked, but doing so could just makes the matter worse. We share some ways to handle challenging behaviour since it can affect patients with dementia.

Prepare yourself for unusual reactions.

You can react with patience and sympathy when you remember that challenging behaviour and  outbursts are common dementia symptoms. When these episodes do occur, you will be less shocked and surprised since you are aware that they are a common symptom of the disorder. It may also be a bit simpler to avoid taking the behaviour personally.

Take lessons from what happened.

Take a step back and see what you can learn from the scene after giving yourself time to settle down. It’s also easier to think about what you might do differently the next time to try to avoid a challenging response from a dementia patient.

Consider potential triggers, reactions that reduce tension, and responses that worsen the problem. It frequently helps in taking notes on your observations to see if you can notice patterns or find out new techniques. So, it may prevent a similar outburst in the future or settle things down if it again happens in the future.

Use a soothing voice and gesture.

Try to take a deep breath and try to maintain your temper when an elderly person becomes upset. If you’re also upset, the tense feelings in the situation unknowingly intensify. So, try to control your anger and agitation. It can be reduced by remaining calm and taking deep breaths while holding an older person. You can also try to maintain a gentle, comforting, and cheerful tone while speaking slowly.

Find the direct cause or trigger.

Consider the incidents that occurred soon before the outburst began. It could have been brought on by something like fear, anger, or pain. For instance, a senior person may start shouting at empty spaces in the room and ordering others to leave. This could happen in the evening.  If you look around, you might notice that the room is beginning to grow darker. The dark lighting creates shadows in the room’s corners, giving the impression that someone is standing there. That could be the reason an older person got scared of the shadows and started screaming.

Once you’ve found the relevant trigger, turn on the lights to clear any dim areas. That seems to calm an older person. You will also be careful to turn on the lights before the room becomes too dark in the future.

Support their emotions and sentiments.

If there’s not a clear reason why an elderly individual is acting in a challenging way, it can be because they are experiencing strong negative emotions like irritation, sadness, or loneliness. They may feel uncertain about how to express their feelings to others. Try to identify emotional cues in their behaviour and respond gently and calmly. Tell them you understand their feelings and that you’re here to support them.

Rule out agony as the underlying reason for the attitude.

A challenging attitude might be triggered in a dementia patient by pain and physical discomfort. Many older adults with dementia are unable to express their concerns in detail. Instead, they might misbehave if they’re in pain or uncomfortable. Observe whether they want pain killers for existing conditions like arthritis or gout, as well as whether their seat is comfortable and whether they use the restroom.

Divert their attention to any different activity.

An emotional outburst might have resulted if the activity at hand or in the past had created irritation or frustration. After allowing a senior adult a moment to express their emotions, try to divert their focus to another activity that they usually find enjoyable. It might help you to make them feel calmer and happier. So, always try to divert their attention when they get angry or irritated with anything.

Try to remove your presence from the area.

Sometimes nothing can make a person with dementia feel more at ease. If that occurs, it might be wise to leave the area to give them some space as well as some time for them to cool down. Then try to rebuild your confidence to deal with them. They might be able to control their temper or even forget they are upset after some time. Also, make sure the area is secure before you leave and that they won’t cause harm to themselves while you are gone.

Medication is also an option.

If non-drug methods are failing and dementia patient behaviours get out of control. It could be time to work with their doctor to explore behavioural drugs carefully. When a carer gives medication to an older person properly, it can help reduce challenging behaviour, improve the older adult’s quality of life.

Care homes have installed complete digital medication platforms like EMAR, which can now help keep track of medications. It can help carers remind their residents to take medicines on time.


Caregivers provide protection, comfort, and support to the people they look after. They help people retain a good quality of life while also keeping an eye on their safety and well-being. Additionally, care facilities guarantee that all residents’ fundamental requirements are met accordingly.

Nowadays, care management platforms like CareVision are increasingly being used by care facilities to help them manage their services and care delivery. This system ensures that everyone on the staff is up to date on each person’s medical and non-medical condition. Therefore, your team can focus less on administrative responsibilities and more on their residents.

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