When an individual with Alzheimer’s or dementia is being physical or verbally abusive, it’s important to remember that this is not a conscious decision or a rational state of being, but rather a symptom of their illness. These symptoms are often triggered by something or someone within their immediate surroundings that makes them feel uncomfortable or disorientated. It’s important to try and identify the root cause of their distress, and then attempt to reassure them that
- Do speak in a calm and reassuring manner that will help to alleviate their distress.
- Do make regular eye contact while you speak to them to ensure you have their attention.
- Do try to establish what the trigger is for their emotional outburst. It may be something as trivial as a minor deviation from routine. Once you have established this, you can try and divert their attention to something else.
- Don’t attempt to argue or apply logic to this situation. The outburst may well be entirely irrational and trying to talk them around can sometimes inflame an already emotional situation.
- Don’t try to physically restrain them unless they are likely to cause harm to themselves or others. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to give them space.
- Don’t ignore what they say. Sometimes it may seem as though they are not making much sense, but they will often give away indications of what they are thinking or feeling, even if it’s not immediately apparent.