What Are the Best Methods for Handling a Combative Loved One with Dementia?

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When seniors with dementia are confused or uncomfortable, they might become physically or verbally aggressive. While your aging loved one’s combativeness may seem overwhelming at first, there are a few simple steps you can take to address this type of behavior. You should also come up with a long-term plan for helping your loved one avoid potential triggers that could agitate or overwhelm him or her. 

Check the Environment

As soon as you notice your loved one’s mood is changing, immediately check the environment for irritants. Dementia can affect the area of the brain responsible for processing outside stimuli, which is one of the reasons seniors who have this condition often become agitated by bright lights or loud noises. To help your loved one relax, shut the windows, close the curtains, and turn off any noisy electronics.

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Green Valley seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance. 

Communicate Clearly and Calmly

Once you’ve removed distractions and your loved one is in a quieter environment, you’ll need to start a conversation with him or her. Asking short, simple questions should allow you to uncover why he or she is agitated and what can be done to remedy the situation. Offer reassurance by placing a hand on your loved one’s shoulder if he or she isn’t opposed to physical contact. Some seniors with dementia are very defensive about their personal space, and your loved one might prefer to not be touched when in a bad mood. 

Look for Injuries

Many seniors with dementia have difficulty telling their caregivers when they’re in pain, which can lead to long-term medical problems. If your loved one has been anxious or angry for more than a day or two, you must look him or her over for lacerations, bruises, sores, or any other visible injuries. You might also want to schedule an appointment with the doctor so your loved one can be screened for common illnesses and age-related health complications.

The cognitive challenges that accompany dementia often leave aging adults unable to manage everyday tasks, which puts their safety and health at risk. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care services families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Redirect Your Loved One’s Attention

Many experts claim using distractions is one of the most effective techniques for handling a combative senior with dementia. When your loved one becomes angry, try to give him or her a simple chore or task to complete. An example would be folding and putting away a basket of laundry. Providing something to focus on could make your loved one forget why he or she was angry in the first place. 

Give Your Loved One Space

There are going to be times when your loved one can’t be consoled. In these situations, give your parent some time and space so he or she can calm down. Before you step out of the room, make sure your loved one doesn’t have access to anything he or she could use to hurt him or herself or others. After having 10 or 15 minutes to calm down, your loved one might be ready to tell you what was bothering him or her. 


Families looking for top-rated Green Valley elderly home care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at 520-625-2050 to learn about the high quality of our in-home dementia care services.