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Responding to the Inappropriate Outbursts of Dementia

By Rick Cohen, 8:00 am on

Whether it’s during an otherwise pleasant family meal or while in the middle of the checkout line at the grocery store, inappropriate outbursts often catch dementia caregivers off guard. While you may not be able to control your loved one’s inappropriate outbursts, the Milwaukee dementia care experts at Home Care Assistance share a few things every dementia caregiver should know when it comes to responding to such behaviors.

Outbursts at Home

Fight the urge to take outbursts personally. If possible, take some time to sit down with the person and ask why they’re upset. Because seniors with dementia often react out of response to the mood and behavior of those they trust and are comfortable with, simply remaining calm can help your loved one calm down again after an outburst.

Public Outbursts

Arguing or scolding your loved one for making a scene is likely to make the situation worse, not to mention create more of a scene. If an outburst occurs in public, try to defuse the situation by downplaying the incident or briefly explaining to lingering onlookers that they have dementia.

What Else Can Be Done?

A few other strategies for responding to the inappropriate outbursts associated with dementia include, but are not limited to:

  • Ask if there’s anything they need or if they’re experiencing discomfort since outbursts can sometimes be a way of reacting to pain.
  • Have them checked for depression or delirium (sudden severe confusion due to rapid changes in brain function), which is prevalent in dementia patients due to a reduced cerebral reserve.
  • Give them a simple task to perform as a distraction. If, for instance, the outburst occurs while shopping, ask them to help you pick out something for dinner.
  • See if the outbursts are associated with a particular activity or situation. For example, some patients with dementia may act out if dinner is late or have an outburst if they’re left alone for too long.

In some cases, adjustments in medication may help. However, behavioral-related problems in dementia patients don’t usually respond well to drug therapies alone. Keep in mind that some outbursts are a symptom of your loved one’s particular form of dementia, so your best response is to remain as calm and understanding as possible.

To learn more about caring for a senior loved one with dementia or to find out more about dementia care support services nearest you, visit our website at www.milwaukeehomecareassistance.com or call a friendly Care Manager at 414-964-8000 and schedule a complimentary, in-home consultation.

Ways Caregivers Can Respond to Dementia Outbursts