More rest and less aggression amongst elderly individuals suffering from dementia

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Usually your residents are dear people and you experience beautiful days together. You take care of them with love and you get affection back. But sometimes a resident with dementia behaves aggressively. Unexpectedly, without any obvious reason. Where does this behaviour come from? What’s the best way to deal with such aggression in healthcare? And how do you reduce the frequency of that aggressive behaviour by these elderly individuals?


Why do these seniors sometimes act aggressively?

Old people can engage in aggressive behaviour in all stages of dementia. At unexpected moments they begin cursing or threatening. It might even get a bit physical. Fits of anger and uncontrollable rage are also possible. There’s one thing you can be certain of: such aggression is nothing personal - your resident has no control over it.

From the outside, there doesn´t always seem to be a reason why elderly people with dementia suddenly act aggressively. But inside there is.

Maybe the older person feels humiliated about being so dependent on your care. Maybe he or she no longer recognises the environment and the people around them. Or the aggressive behaviour arises as a result of delusions, or because they can´t successfully perform even simple tasks any longer, or because you physically approached the older person, but he or she didn´t understand why ... In brief, the resident feels anxious, threatened, unsafe, frustrated, and can no longer express that clearly.

How do you deal with aggression on the part of such seniors?

Tell the person calmly that no one wishes to make him or her angry. It may be that the older person won´t understand everything you say, but with the right tone in your voice you can already lower the aggression. Is the situation too difficult? Then you might just leave the older person alone for a bit (if that doesn´t interfere with the proper care). This will give the resident a chance to calm down and come to himself or herself.

Naturally, it isn´t easy to tolerate aggressive behaviour from someone you’re trying your very best to care for. But understand that these seniors are acting aggressively because they are wrestling with their own confused feelings. Something they can no longer articulate in any other way.

Afterwards, a chat can be a good idea, in order to learn why the resident is being so aggressive. But talking only works if the other person wants to do so as well - and if the latter can still remember the incident. If elderly individuals with dementia no longer even recall that they behaved aggressively, don´t press any further. And be sure not to get drawn into a protracted discussion.

How do you prevent aggressive behaviour on the part of the elderly?

In healthcare, elderly aggression cannot be avoided altogether - but one can succeed in part. Amongst other things, it is important that your residents feel safe and secure. You achieve that by creating a restful daily routine, one that includes sufficient movement.

Also take the time to carefully explain the activities of each day - this helps stop a build-up of aggression. Make sure that you speak in short sentences, softly and slowly. And let the resident do enough by himself/herself. Throughout the day also make sure that the older person isn’t taken by surprise, for example by clearly announcing yourself when entering the room.

Receive support via technology

In addition, in our view a restful, safe, warm environment can make a huge difference, so this is also a way to make elderly individuals suffering from dementia less aggressive. And that means an environment with the proper warm or bright lighting, adapted to the resident. The smart, unique lighting technology of LynX® lifeline can help to achieve this.

And if seniors nevertheless act so aggressively that backup becomes necessary, it´s good to know that LynX® lifeline forms part of the alarm and communication system LynX® connect. With this, you as a caregiver can quickly warn a colleague, in order to calm down the resident on the basis of our advice and your experience.

At the same time, LynX® connect offers a map of the residential care centre with which you can not only detect but also follow residents throughout the building - provided they’re wearing a bracelet. This localisation gives you an optimal view of the situation in which seniors acted aggressively or where they went when they got angry. Or how they’re doing, when you’ve left them on their own for a bit.

Curious about how LynX® lifeline can help you?

Written by Céline De Geeter