Throughout the many stages of dementia, seniors may experience a variety of emotions, including aggression and agitation. These behaviors can be overwhelming for caregivers, but they’re manageable. Below you’ll find tips to help you calm a senior loved one with dementia.
Play MusicListening to music can immediately connect older adults to positive memories that calm the mind and relax the body. Certain areas of the brain, including the hippocampus, remain intact even after developing dementia. This small organ inside the brain can retain long-term memories and emotional impacts. When your loved one becomes angry and irritated, you can play music to trigger positive long-term memories that calm him or her down and alleviate tension in the room. Professional caregivers with specialized experience in dementia care understand how to recognize and respond to emotion-driven behavior in seniors with dementia. Although it may be challenging to find reliable, highly rated home care, you can turn to Home Care Assistance. Our respite and live-in caregivers are expertly trained to assist seniors with a wide array of important tasks, including cooking, bathing, light housekeeping, and exercise.
Try AromatherapyEssential oils can ease symptoms associated with dementia, including anxiety and depression. When your loved one becomes upset or agitated, light a candle and allow the aroma to fill the room. The scents from the candles may ease symptoms of anxiety and balance strong emotions. Aromatherapy can also boost memory and lower the risk of insomnia, which are common problems associated with this condition. For safety, make sure to keep the candles out of your loved one’s reach. The best candle scents to use when calming your loved one are:
- Lemon balm
Use a Gentle TouchHolding your loved one’s hand when he or she becomes angry or sad may enhance his or her mood immediately and calm his or her nervous system. A gentle rub or pat on the back can ease tension and alleviate stress and anxiety. A human touch strengthens the bond between two people, including seniors and their caregivers. In addition to gentle touches, offer reassuring verbal responses, such as “You seem to be frightened, but I’m here, so there’s no need to worry” or “You’re safe. I won’t leave until you feel better.” Providing verbal and nonverbal reassurance can calm seniors with dementia and make them feel more secure.
Monitor Personal ComfortUnmet needs often cause agitation and aggressive behavior in aging adults with dementia. Due to communication problems seniors with this condition experience, it may be difficult for them to say they’re thirsty, hungry, or in severe pain. Therefore, they act out negatively to communicate with their family caregivers. Monitor your loved one’s comfort levels at all times, especially when he or she becomes upset. In most cases, you should be able to provide a quick solution once you determine what’s causing the behavioral problems. Some of the reasons seniors act out include:
- Uncomfortable room temperature
- Misperceived fears or threats