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People living with dementia can sometimes exhibit behaviour in ways that can be aggressive. Whether that’s physical or verbal, the actions of the person can be distressing for them and those around them. The nature of the behaviour can lead to friends and family agreeing that their loved one would benefit from professional support such as home care or dementia care.

 

What is Aggressive Behaviour?

Aggressive behaviour includes:

  • Verbal - screaming, shouting, swearing and making threats.
  • Physical - biting, hitting, hair-pulling, pinching, scratching.

Dementia and anger outbursts can be linked to how the person behaves before the illness developed, however, it has been known for people to develop aggressive behaviour who have never shown such behaviour before in their life.

 

What Causes Aggressive Behaviour?

Dementia causes pain for the person going through it which brings a need from them to feel comfortable. They also want to talk to people around them, feel engaged and feel well. However, dementia can make it difficult for people to understand their needs and their way of expressing what they want is through violent actions. There are various needs they may have for their aggressive behaviour.

Physical Needs

  • They might be in pain, unwell or discomfort.
  • Side effects of medication - drowsiness can lead to communication issues.
  • The environment is too busy, overwhelming or too hot or cold.
  • Poor eyesight or hearing causes misconceptions.
  • Hallucinations lead to aggressive behaviour.
  • Dementia affects judgement and self control.
  • Lack of understanding for their behaviour.

Social Needs

  • The person may feel lonely and not included or valued.
  • They might be bored with not much to do.
  • The person might not like their care professional.
  • They could be hiding their condition from others.

Psychological Needs

  • A feeling of their needs and rights not being respected or are being ignored. This can be down to their own misperceptions, memory difficulties or problems.
  • A feeling of being stopped from doing what they want.
  • Frustration with being unable to complete simple tasks.
  • Depression or other mental health issues.
  • Misunderstanding of why they have a person caring for them. They could feel that the carer is invading their space.
  • Finding it difficult to accept that carers are helping them with intimate tasks such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet.
  • Feeling threatened by a strange or unfamiliar environment.
  • Lack of understanding of the world around them.

 

How to Deal with Aggressive Dementia Patients

It's difficult to respond to aggressive behaviour, but you must take time to think of your loved one and why they might be behaving aggressively. It’s likely they aren’t doing it on purpose and reasoning with them is unlikely to lead them to change their behaviour.

Here are tips for things you can do and avoid doing while the person is behaving aggressively.

During the Aggressive Episode

  • Don’t react straight away. Take a breath and give the person space and time. Leave the room until you’re both feeling calmer.
  • Stay calm. Meeting aggression with an angry response will make the situation worse.
  • Ensure your safety. Never tolerate violence against yourself.
  • If they are being physically violent, try not to show any fear, alarm or anxiety. Walk away from the situation and call for help.
  • Reassure the person and acknowledge their feelings.
  • Don’t take aggressive behaviour personally as this is likely their way of trying to communicate with you of an issue they may have. Listen to what they have to say and mirror their body language if possible.
  • Keep eye contact with the person to explain why you are there. Encourage the person to openly communicate with you.
  • Are you supporting the person with a task? Does it need to be completed now? It's good to stop, give them space and try again later when you’re both calmer.

After the Episode

It’s easy to blame the person for their aggressive behaviour but they are unlikely to have done it on purpose. If you treat your loved one differently, they will not understand why you are. Carry on as normal and be reassuring to them. You must remember to focus on the person and not their behaviour - they’re still the person you care about.

If you’re struggling with the emotions of dealing with an aggressive episode, talk to friends, family or even your GP or counsellor. The professional carers at Sova Healthcare are also happy to discuss your feelings with them if need be. Without this support network, you can focus on the behaviour and not the person you care for.

 

Managing Aggressive Behaviour

Aggressive behaviour can be prevented in those suffering with dementia by following a few steps:

  1. Identify the problem - Consider all factors for their behaviour from the environment to the situation you’re in.

  2. Analyse the situation - Where and when does the problem happen? Is it usual for them to act this way? Are visitors involved?

  3. Focus on how the person feels when behaving aggressively - Are they unwell, uncomfortable or in pain? Tired? Delusional? Bored?

  4. Identify what the person is reacting to - Are they reacting to a bad incident? Are they scared of something? Has something changed? Has a memory returned to them?

  5. Have a behaviour management strategy - Develop a range of techniques that will keep the behaviour down to a minimum. Try different things to work out what is best for you and them.

Aggressive behaviour shown by a loved one going through dementia is difficult to contend with emotionally, but with the right strategies and support around you it will be okay. Sova Healthcare can provide a fresh approach to home care services. With various options available for your loved one - including domiciliary care - we can help with taking care of your loved one with specialist dementia care services. For more information, get in touch with us today.

Dementia Communication

Dementia is a disease that is affecting more and more people in the UK. With over 850,000 people suffering from some form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and with that figure expected to rise to above 1 million by 2025, developing ways to communicate with those who have the degenerative brain disease is starting to become more vital than ever before.

Why is communicating with a person with Dementia difficult?

Communicating with those with dementia is very difficult as their brain is struggling to communicate within itself, due to the nerve cells that transmit messages being damaged. This is because Dementia is a degenerative brain disorder, and the cell damage in the brain makes it much harder for dementia sufferers to take in new information and formulate a response like a fully functioning brain can.

Memory loss is also prevalent, meaning they may not have a strong recollection of who you are, thus making communication very difficult. Alongside this, due to the nerve cell damage within the brain, you may find that their behaviour has changed - they may behave similarly to a child.

With Dementia affecting the everyday life of the patient and their loved ones, some people need some help in being able to communicate in what can be a difficult situation. Sova Healthcare has compiled a list of ten tips for communicating with a person with dementia.

1. Create a positive atmosphere

Your body language is very important when engaging with someone with dementia. It speaks volumes more than your own words. Use facial expressions, consider the tone of your voice and gentle, reassuring physical touching of the arm will help communicate your message and show your love and affection for them.

2. Keep the person’s attention

Keeping the focus of the person with dementia is vital to good communication, but as the disease progresses this can become increasingly challenging. Keep the TV or radio off, close the curtains, shut the door or move to a place that is free from any distraction. Make sure you have their attention, address them by their name whilst making sure they know who you are, and maintain eye contact with them.

3. Clearly state your messages

Keep your words and sentences as simple as possible. Speak slowly and with a reassuring tone. Keep your voice at a lower pitch and refrain from making it higher or louder, as you don’t want to startle them. If they do not understand your message the first time, use the same wording to repeat your message or question. If they are still struggling, wait for a period of time before saying it again. But remember, try not to lose patience with them, as this is not their fault.

4. Keep your questions simple

Those in the later stages of dementia often get easily confused, so you need to keep your questions as simple as possible. If you need a definitive answer, try not to ask open ended questions - yes or no questions work best. If you do need to ask a question that requires a choice, make the choices clear. Transparent options can help clarify exactly what you are asking.

5. Keep your ears, eyes and heart open

Your loved one may take time to reply so you need to be patient with them. Prompt them if they are struggling to answer a question. Do not show any impatience with your body language - be understanding. Don’t be surprised if they become impatient or frustrated - this is a challenging time for them. Try and be as patient and as understanding as possible.

6. Break everything down into manageable chunks and steps

Keeping tasks manageable for someone with dementia is vital - it isn’t easy for someone with dementia to be able to complete everyday tasks we often take for granted, without support from live-in carers, family members of visiting carers. This is because the brain is struggling to send messages, impacting their memory loss which hampers their recollection of each step. Encourage them, gently remind them of the steps and assist them with anything they cannot complete on their own. Make the steps visual so they picture exactly what you want them to do.

7. Distract and Redirect when Upset

It can be easy for a dementia sufferer to get upset or agitated as they struggle to complete what we often regard as a simplistic and mundane task. Alongside this, there is also the possibility that something happening around them (such as a change in furniture) that has impacted their mood. The best way to help a dementia patient who has become upset is by trying to change the subject, or removing them from environment that is making them upset. A great distraction could be to go for a walk. Be understanding with them, as this will reassure them, and remind them that you have their best interests at heart.

8. Be affectionate and reassuring

A common symptom of dementia is confusion and anxiety - as the dementia progresses, patients often struggle to differentiate between what is and isn’t real. This is where you will need to be affectionate and reassuring. Stay focused on the feelings they are trying to express and don’t convince them that everything they see is incorrect. At times, holding hands, hugging and touching can get some to respond.

9. Reminisce

A great way to communicate with a person with dementia is to take a trip down memory lane. They might not be able to remember something that happened 30 minutes ago, but they might clearly recall something from 30 years ago. Ask general questions about the person’s past instead of anything based on short-term memory.

10. Have a sense of humour

People struggling with dementia will usually retain their social skills and will love a good laugh. Just make sure the joke isn’t at their expense.

At Sova Healthcare, we are passionate about providing the best care and advice to you and your relative. If you have any queries regarding our dementia home care services or specialist care services that we provide, please contact us today.

Palliative Care

Finding out that your loved one is facing palliative care is a very difficult concept to digest, even if you’ve watched them battle Alzheimer’s or Dementia for a very long time. Depending on the person’s age and type of Dementia, a patient can live for up to a decade after a diagnosis has been made. But that does not make it any easier when it comes to accepting that your loved one is facing end of life care. Even though you are fully aware that your family member’s Alzheimer’s or Dementia is progressing, you may find it hard to even believe what you’re hearing, and that’s perfectly normal. 

The end of life sector provides palliative care for over 200,000 people with terminal and debilitating illnesses in the UK. Watching a family member go into palliative care will be one of the toughest things you’ll ever do, but it is important to remember you’re not alone. Palliative Care intends to;
  • Improve their quality of life.
  • Relieve pain and any other distressing symptoms.
  • Support life and look at dying as a normal process.
  • It does not speed up or postpone death.
  • Combine psychological and spiritual aspects of care to create a calmer atmosphere.
  • Offer a support system so that people are able to live as actively as possible until death.
  • Offer a support system to help the family cope during end of life care and during bereavement.
  • Utilise a team approach to address the needs of the person in need of care, alongside their families.

Here are 5 tips to help you cope if your family member is facing palliative care.

Remember that this is what's best for your loved one.

It is important to remember that when your loved one is recieving end of life care, it is the best possible thing for them. Palliative care is designed for those who are no longer going to get better, and those with a complex illness. 

Whether they are having palliative care from home or hospital, the main aim of this type of care is to improve their quality of life and relieve them from any pain and any other distressing symptoms they may experience. According to a Marie Curie study, 63% of the UK’s population wish to die in the comfort of their home, and if your family member is amongst this figure and receiving end-of-life care at home - remind yourself that you’re doing what is best for them. Alongside this, if they are in a hospital or care home then remind yourself that they are in a safe place and being well looked after.

Join a support group.

Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK alone, and this number is expected to rise to 1,142,677 by 2025 - so do not worry, you are not alone. Hundreds of people across the UK will understand exactly what you’re going through. The hospice sector provides end-of-life care and bereavement support for 40,000 families a year. Sometimes being surrounded by people who can empathise with what you’re going through will help, as well as talking about your own experiences. 

Alternately, if you have any questions, queries or just need to talk to someone then use the palliative care team attending to your family member. They are there to help you through it after all.

Understand that you may not be the best person to provide care.

Providing domiciliary care for a loved one is incredibly hard, and due to the difficulties that come with palliative care, you may need to accept that a professional needs to take over. End-of-life care is a complex care that involves making decisions that you couldn’t ever imagine making for your loved ones, and whilst you may be able to provide day-to-day general care, they wild need specialist care when it comes to medication and other needs. 

Put your own health first.

According to Get Palliative Care, 60% of 44 million caregivers work a full-time job and spend roughly 18 hours a week caring for an ill family member. Sometimes you may feel resentful and overwhelmed (which is often followed by guilt) that you’re in this position, but asking for help doesn’t make you weak. Putting your own health first when a family member is getting palliative care simply means you are being sensible and looking at the bigger picture. How will you be able to continue supporting your loved one if you burn yourself out? Due to the way Alzheimer’s and Dementia attacks the brain, your loved one’s immune system will be very weak, and it important to make sure that you stay healthy so that you do not pass anything on to them that they cannot fight off. So, know when to ask for help and take a short break.

Make sure the required paperwork is filled out.

As soon as you find out your loved one needs palliative care, it is important to talk about their wants and needs when it comes to their end-of-life care, and fill out the necessary paperwork. Families making medical decisions on behalf of a loved one is devastating, but making sure their wishes are made clear beforehand will help you come to a certain decision. Asking your family member to make an advanced decision whilst they have the mental capacity to do so means that you can respect their wishes later on in their care. You can find out more about advanced medical decisions here.

If you would like advice or help regarding palliative care for a loved one then do not hesitate to get in touch.
Older people holding hands

Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or dementia can severely test the vows you made to one another many moons ago. It is a very difficult and strenuous job that inevitably causes pain and grief for the person you once knew - before dementia came crashing into your lives.

However, whilst loving and caring for someone with dementia can be hard, you will find that it can be incredibly rewarding if you remember a few important things. So, in the spirit of Valentine's Day (14th February), here is what you should consider when your partner has dementia:

Dementia does not define who they are.


Being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia is devastating and life-changing both for the patient and for their loved ones, but it is crucial to remember that dementia does not become that person. You knew who they were before their diagnosis, and it is important to hold on to those memories of who they really are.

Dementia is responsible for their mood swings and personality changes.


Dementia is a physical disease that causes a build-up of proteins in the brain. These proteins then form plaques that kill nerve cells and block signals / connections in the brain. This causes significant loss and damage of brain tissue, alongside the production of chemicals because important messages are no longer being delivered.

All of this is responsible for the mood swings and personality changes you see in your partner - it is imperative to remember that it is the disease that is progressing and causing this.

Learn as much as you can about dementia.


Educating yourself about dementia as much as you possibly can means that you will be able to better understand what is happening to your loved one and why. This means that you can rationalise the situation and empathise with your partner, as well as preparing for the future.

Love your partner for who they are now.


Watching the person you've spent your life with change before your very eyes is a devastating experience, but it is essential that you learn to love your partner with dementia (even as you hold on to the memories of what they were like before). Once you have grieved for the loss of the person you loved - and learned to love them anew - accepting the fact that you may not be able to 'reach' the person they once were becomes easier. Former Alzheimer's caregiver Ellen Woodward Potts states, "The key to coming to terms with this loss is to realise that the human being you have known and loved is still there, but their persona has been masked by Alzheimer's."

Expect the unexpected.


It is important to be realistic in your expectations for yourself and your loved one. Make sure the goals you set are realistic, and don't get wound up if they are not met. For example, if an activity your partner used to love now causes a negative response then accept this and try something different. Remember, it is the progression of the disease that is causing their behaviour.

Learn to let things go.


Learning to let things go when your partner suffers from dementia is one of the most challenging and frustrating aspects of the disease, but it is a crucial one. Their mood swings, personality changes and memory loss will be caused by the progression of plaque build-up in their brain, so make sure you are not arguing with them over a forgotten memory or the way they are behaving as it will only upset the pair of you. Be willing to take the high ground and let it go.

Listen to your own limitations.


Those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease may require a range of home care, from specialist domiciliary care to palliative care. This is a huge responsibility for professional caregivers, let alone family members who also act as caregivers. Due to the complex needs and characteristics of dementia, the disease costs the UK over £26 billion per year, and there are currently over 670,000 carers in the UK. There is nothing wrong with asking for help or additional support when you feel overwhelmed.

Make sure you rely on friends and family members if necessary. You're doing everything imaginable - and more - to be there for your partner, and it's important to remember that your support network will be there for you too. Understand your own emotional and physical limitations; it takes a strong person to do all of this alone, but it takes an even stronger person to ask for help when they need it.

Explore methods of communication.


Communication is something that the majority of dementia patients struggle with to one degree or another, but poetry, dance, music, arts and crafts are all good ways to connect with your partner. These methods are especially helpful when your loved one is no longer able to verbally communicate. Remember, a gentle touch on the arm and a kind approach will also show them just how loved they still are.

Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK alone, and this number is expected to rise to 1,142,677 by 2025. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, but no two people living with dementia are the same. If you would like advice on how to care for a family member with dementia, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Caring for someone with dementia can be particularly challenging, but developing a deeper understanding of what they are going through can benefit everyone.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is used to refer to a number of brain-centred disorders, with varying symptoms. It is most commonly associated with a loss of memory and a sense of disorientation, but has many other effects that can be daunting.


How to Care for People with Dementia?

Due to the nature of dementia, those suffering can’t always communicate their feelings effectively. But with research and awareness growing, people are talking more and more about their experiences. We’ve taken a look at what is being discussed, and have found some useful tips for dementia carers to help their loved ones or clients live with dementia

1. The person you know is still there.

Amidst the forgetfulness and confusion, it can be easy to imagine that the person suffering with Dementia has changed. Aspects of their mind may be unrecognisable, but deep down they are still the same person. It’s important not to write-off their old self. Chances are, they are missing them as much as you are. So as often as possible, engage with the person you truly know.

2. It’s not simply an age issue.

Of course, dementia is more prominent in older people, but there are also over 40,000 people under the age of 65 living with dementia in the UK, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. Dementia is not simply a side-effect of ageing; it is something the affects many different people, in many different ways.


3. Good days and bad days will all come and go.

The nature of the condition makes it unpredictable, which means that a good day can turn bad, but then a not-so-good moment can also turn right around. When caring from someone with dementia, going with the flow is a way of life.

4. Trying to reason might not go well. 

In many cases, dementia can lead to irrational thoughts and feelings, which means that it can often strip a person of their ability to reason. This isn’t to say that disagreements need to be totally extinguished, although the scalability of them should be carefully measured.  

5. It’s more than forgetting things.

Forgetting names and faces is an unfortunate aspect of many people’s experience, but dementia can be much more than that. Dementia can mean hallucinations, delusions, angers and other disruptive effects. Each one of these present an unpleasant situation, which means that dementia care is ultimately about gaining a fuller understanding, so that these symptoms can be suitably handled when they occur.

6. We know that something is going on.

Dementia is a disorder that disorientates the brain - something that can undoubtedly lead to confusion. The realisation that something is not quite right can be distressing for those dealing with dementia, so it’s often beneficial to help embrace changes rather than to add to any confusion.

7. We’re still adults.

There’s a tricky, fine line to be tiptoed along here. In a distressing, lonely, confusing time, it’s easy to find your tone of voice softening and body language becoming more animated. Each and every person is different, so there is always personal preference, but when it comes to dementia care, it is always worth remembering that the person in question is not a child.

8. Our eyes still work.

Though some aspects of a dementia sufferer's mind may not be as they were before, other parts may be perfectly unaffected. Much like the first point, it’s vital to always be aware of how they are feeling and how they would like to be treated. Something as simple as keeping eye contact can boost the confidence of someone who may be feeling low or left out. 


9.We know it’s hard.

Caring for someone with dementia is by no means an easy feat, and dealing with dementia is certainly not a walk in the park either. It’s this mutual appreciation that can help relationships strengthen in these situations, and ensure that everyone is as comfortable as they can be.

To learn more about dementia and dementia care services, get in touch with Sova Healthcare, a team of leading healthcare specialists in Birmingham, Leicester and Bradford, to discuss how we can help you and your loved ones.