Understanding People with Dementia: How to Respond to Distressed Behavior

Confusion can lead anyone to act irrationally, and this occurs commonly in people with dementia. Distressed behavior is a typical characteristic of the condition and it is essential to know how to identify its causes and how to respond to it. Screaming, rudeness or any exalted attitude is a sign of distressed behavior, and they can be caused by frustrating situations, a scare, a problem of communication, depression and many other different causes. Whenever a person with dementia is acting this way, this is how you should respond:


Avoid arguing

Remember that people with dementia can no longer think logically nor rationally, so arguing with them can worsen the situation.  It is better to leave the room to relax and then come back.


Don’t take it personally

Again, people with dementia don’t think rationally. They might say things that seem personal or intentional, but the truth is that they are not thinking what they are saying nor notice if they are being rude or hurtful.


Encourage communication

The reason why this person is distressed might be that there is something they want to communicate but can’t find the way to do so. Maybe they are in pain or want to ask for something in particular, and they will try to express it through their behavior.


Have respect and empathy

Understanding is the only tool that is going to help anyone deal with a person with dementia. Understanding their emotions are going to help feel empathy towards them and respect them. It is important always to treat them right and the way they deserve, with support and love.


Consider drug treatments

Sometimes, levels of aggressiveness can reach high, and they can become dangerous for themselves and anyone around them. If nothing helps to calm down a person with dementia, then it is good to consider using medications, always prescribed by a doctor.

If you want to learn more about how to respond to distressed behavior in people with dementia, don’t forget to buy the book “Supporting people with dementia: understanding and responding to distressed behaviour.”

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