Best Practices for Approaching Combative Dementia Patients

Published on April 21, 2023

Updated on November 4, 2023

Dementia is a progressive brain disorder that affects a person's cognitive abilities, memory, and behavior. In the later stages of the disease, some patients can become combative and aggressive, making it difficult for caregivers to provide the necessary care. As a , it's important to know how to approach and manage combative dementia patients to ensure their comfort and safety. Here are some best practices to consider:

Be aware of triggers

Combative behavior in dementia patients can often be triggered by environmental factors, such as loud noises or unfamiliar surroundings. It's essential to observe and identify these triggers and try to eliminate or reduce them to prevent outbursts. It's also crucial to recognize that some medications or medical conditions can cause irritability or .

Maintain a calm and non-threatening approach

Approaching a combative dementia patient with a calm and non-threatening demeanor is essential to prevent escalating situations. Always approach the patient slowly and avoid sudden movements that may startle or frighten them. Try to make eye contact, speak in a soft and soothing voice, and use simple language to convey your message.

And may I suggest, ditch the mask — and those unaware of the ineffectiveness of masks for most situations including the C-Word read the extensive study completed in January of this year — and smile, smile, smile and let the dementia patient see your beautiful face and smile.

Validate their feelings

Dementia patients may experience a range of emotions, such as frustration, , or confusion. Acknowledge their feelings and try to empathize with them. Validating their emotions can help them feel heard and understood, reducing the likelihood of combative behavior.

I strongly suggest anyone working with dementia patients read the article about Validation Therapy as I've used the techniques established by Naomi Feil for years with remarkable success.

Use positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement can help redirect combative dementia patients' behavior and encourage them to engage in positive activities. Praise and reward good behavior and try to redirect their attention to a calming activity, such as listening to music or doing a puzzle.

Ensure safety

In situations where a dementia patient becomes combative, safety is paramount. Ensure that the patient is safe from harm and that other patients or staff are not at risk of injury.

To Avoid Doing

Avoid taking any action that would be considered a physical restraint. If you physically restrain a patient, you may be charged with battery. If you are concerned that you may be trapped in a situation, avoid the situation until you get help as you do not want to be in front of a judge explaining why you attacked (battery) and caused harm (battery) a patient with dementia.

Avoid speaking to the dementia patient as if they are a child. Please do not use “baby talk,” and try to avoid terms of endearment the family did not give permission to use.

Avoid threatening (assault) the patient if they do not listen to you or act a certain way. While potentially less of a criminal offense than battery, assault is still significant crime.

If you remember the patient with dementia deserves respect, kindness, gentleness and love you will do well.

Conclusion

Caring for combative dementia patients requires , patience, and understanding. By following these best practices, hospice nurses can help maintain a safe and comfortable environment for both the patient and staff. Remember to stay calm, validate their feelings, and always ensure their safety.

Resources

Fooled into masking follow-up. Do Surgeons Need Masks? (Video by Dr. Moran reviewing evidenced based studies)

Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses (Largest peer reviewed scientific study on masks)

My Loved One with Dementia

Understanding Dementia (Alzheimer's & Vascular & Frontotemporal & Lewy Body Dementia) (Video)

How Do I Know Which Dementia I'm Looking At? (Video)

Dementia Training material (Free)

Promoting Meaningful Relationships with Dementia Patients through Validation Therapy

Unlocking the Power of Validation Therapy in Compassionate End-of-Life Care

Validation Therapy: A Valuable Tool for Families and Healthcare Teams

Best Practices for Approaching Combative Dementia Patients

The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The amount generated from these “qualifying purchases” helps to maintain this site.

How Do I Know You? Dementia at the End of Life

The Dementia Caregiver: A Guide to Caring for Someone with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Neurocognitive Disorders (Guides to Caregiving)

Sundown Dementia, Vascular Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia Explained

The Caregiver's Guide to Dementia: Practical Advice for Caring for Yourself and Your Loved One (Caregiver's Guides)

Ahead of Dementia: A Real-World, Upfront, Straightforward, Step-by-Step Guide for Family Caregivers

The Dementia Caregiver's Survival Guide: An 11-Step Plan to Understand the Disease and How To Cope with Financial Challenges, Patient Aggression, and Depression Without Guilt, Overwhelm, or Burnout

Dementia Care Companion: The Complete Handbook of Practical Care from Early to Late Stage

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The amount generated from these “qualifying purchases” helps to maintain this site.

The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease and Other Dementias

Dementia Home Care: How to Prepare Before, During, and After

The Dementia Caregiver's Survival Guide: An 11-Step Plan to Understand the Disease and How To Cope with Financial Challenges, Patient Aggression, and Depression Without Guilt, Overwhelm, or Burnout

Dementia Caregiving: A Self Help Book for Dementia Caregivers Offering Practical Coping Strategies and Support to Overcome Burnout, Increase Awareness, and Build Mental & Emotional Resilience

Navigating the Dementia Journey: A Compassionate Guide to Understanding, Supporting, and Living With Dementia

Ahead of Dementia: A Real-World, Upfront, Straightforward, Step-by-Step Guide for Family Caregivers

Four Common Mistakes by Caregivers of loved ones with Dementia and what do differently (video)

Eldercare Locator: a nationwide service that connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The amount generated from these “qualifying purchases” helps to maintain this site.

My Aging Parent Needs Help!: 7 Step Guide to Caregiving with No Regrets, More Compassion, and Going from Overwhelmed to Organized [Includes Tips for Caregiver Burnout]

Take Back Your Life: A Caregiver's Guide to Finding Freedom in the Midst of Overwhelm

The Conscious Caregiver: A Mindful Approach to Caring for Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself

Dear Caregiver, It's Your Life Too: 71 Self-Care Tips To Manage Stress, Avoid Burnout And Find Joy Again While Caring For A Loved One

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved

The Art of Dying

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying

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