Caring for a loved one with dementia comes with many challenges. Often, as dementia progresses, unexpected aggression or agitation may occur which can be frightening or create risk of injury. Your approach with this can potentially deescalate an unsafe situation.
Here are 9 helpful steps to handle and deescalate agitation caused by dementia:
  1. Speak low and slow with a gentle and reassuring tone
  2. Scan environment to identify the immediate cause
  3. Validate their feelings
  4. Rule out pain/discomfort as the cause of the behavior
  5. Calm the environment
  6. Shift focus to a different activity
  7. Put on music
  8. Remove yourself from the room
  9. Safety first. Call 911 if you or your loved one is at risk
It’s important to speak slowly and softly in a gentle and reassuring tone. Listen to what the person is saying and see if you can identify what is bothering them. Acknowledge their feelings. Call upon extreme empathy. Take their hand, and look into their eyes. Ask if anything bothering them or if they are in pain.
If there are people around, go to a quieter place. Turn off the TV or radio. Changing the environment may alter the person’s mood and calm them. Try putting on music, a waltz to start dancing with them, tunes you know they like or their favorite jazz.
If nothing you do is improving the situation, it is better to leave the person alone than to agitate them. If the person’s behavior makes them unsafe or threatens you, get help, either from a care attendant if available or call 911, describe the behavior and tell them the person has dementia. Your safety takes priority. Get help. You are not alone.

When you need expert guidance navigating the challenges that come with aging, the elder experts of JFS Allies in Aging can help.

Contact us today to learn how we can help your loved one live better, longer.

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In case you missed it…
Check out Jen Maseda’s 30-Minute Lunchtime Boost with two local experts, Michelle Woodbrey, CEO of 2Sisters Senior Living Advisors and Malka Young, Director of Allies in Aging: JFS Eldercare Solutions.
Learn about how aging care systems have changed during COVID-19, as well as share resources for home care or placement for frail loved ones.
If you need support caring for your aging loved one during this time of quarantine and crisis, we can help you navigate health care systems, arrange services and understand your options. Contact us today!
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A few months ago, I was having dinner with a friend, and she had just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding JoyWe shared with each other what our “Option B” would be, that is, if “something happened”, never anticipating that “something happening” were these sudden and unexpected changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you are 65 or older, you are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, even if you have no underlying conditions or exercise every day or are otherwise healthy. We are learning more every day, but COVID-19 is a new disease and we have limited information trying to understand what is happening as we learn new things.  

What does that mean for older adults now living in Massachusetts? Governor Baker’s four-phase reopening plan to slowly allow businesses, services, and activities to resume also advises older adults to continue to stay at home except for essential trips out to the grocery store, medical appointments or to get prescriptions. If you are still working, the governor is recommending that you continue to work from home if at all possible. This advisory continues through phase three which at the earliest is still nine weeks away.  What about Phase four, “the new normal”, how long is that going to last? 

Leslie and her husband Dave loved living in their condo overlooking the Mall, but 10+ weeks of togetherness are making them rethink their plan. They love only having one car, but they are not looking forward to returning to the T. What good are local parks if they are all closed? Maybe this urban retirement is not for them. 

Sally never realized how much of her social life revolved around doctors’ visits. She hasn’t seen a doctor in more than three months and she is fine, thank you. She loved not having to wait to see her doctor the one time she had a Telehealth visit. She had his total attention. He wasn’t late, her visit wasn’t interrupted by phone calls, and the doctor took the time to answer all of her questions.  

 Will you be ready for your new normal come August? What will that look like for you 

Did you think your future was all planned? Age in place? Move to a retirement community? Move to a warmer climate? Are you rethinking now? Now is a good time to revisit your life plan and see how it stacks up against COVID-19 and any other unanticipated changes.

What is your option B? And how about life’s “What ifs”?

You can make a plan. 

If you would like to sit down with an experienced care manager at Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions and make your plan B, please contact us to make a virtual appointment.

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“Malka was the best. I can’t say enough about her professionalism, knowledge and the compassion she had for my client. My client had no family in the States, so even though I have known him for over 40 years, I’m not family. At times I was uncertain what to do. Malka did and that I will always appreciate.”

— Rod St. Pierre, Shrewsbury (MA)

When you need expert guidance navigating the challenges that come with aging, the elder experts of JFS Allies in Aging can help.

Contact us today to learn how we can help your loved one live better, longer.

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“Malka Young was extremely helpful as we sought help with finding the appropriate skilled nursing facility. She is extremely knowledgeable on all the areas we sought guidance on including, but not limited to, appealing medical insurance decisions, hospice organizations and how hospice works, the skilled nursing care facilities in our local area, and when and how to apply, etc. We would highly recommend Malka to anyone.”

— Ron Metro, Ashland (MA)


When you need expert guidance navigating the challenges that come with aging, the elder experts of JFS Allies in Aging can help.

Contact us today to learn how we can help your loved one live better, longer.


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It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness or someone close to you has died. You may be struggling to cope, feeling sadness or uncertainty, and maybe guilt as well.  Feeling alone or isolated in your grief or worry may make your situation feel even harder.

Support groups can help.  These bring together people who are going through a similar experience, whether it is illness, injury, grief and bereavement, or the ravages of dementia, the stresses of caregiving, or addiction in its many forms.

There are many different kinds of support groups. A professionally facilitated group is led by an expert, such as a social worker or therapist, who keeps the discussion on topic, encourages interaction and makes sure no one person dominates the session. A peer support group has no designated leader, but is run by the members; this is the model used famously by Alcoholics Anonymous.  There are online groups too, both ongoing and time-limited, which offer an alternative to people who are crunched for time, have limited choices in their location, or prefer anonymity.  A simple Google or Facebook search will lead you to a myriad of options.  Educational groups focus heavily on information sharing and feature a guest speaker and are often sponsored by associations (such as the Alzheimer’s Association), hospitals, and assisted livings or universities.

The benefits of support groups are well documented. Talking openly and honestly can relieve stress and anxiety.  Members develop a clearer understanding of what to expect.  Group members are able to get (and share) practical advice from others in the same situation.

If you’re not sure which kind of support group is best for you, try out a few.  I also recommend going more than once before deciding whether or not this is the group for you.

JFS will be partnering with other local organizations to offer two different support groups this fall:

Alzheimer’s Support Group for Family Caregivers at the Natick Community Senior Center (117 East Central St, Natick MA 01760) — Meets on the 3rd Wednesday of every month, 2:00-3:00 PM

The next Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting will be Wednesday, November 20.

Bereavement Support Group at Temple Shir Tikva (141 Boston Post Rd, Wayland MA 01778) — Meets twice monthly on Monday evenings, 7:30-8:45 PM

The next Bereavement Support Group meeting will be Monday, November 18.


If you need help finding or selecting a support group, please call me.

I can walk you through your options and help find the best fit for you.

Malka Young is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Care Manager.  Email her at

Click to read what our clients are saying about Allies in Aging – JFS Elder Care Solutions

 About the Author

Malka Young, LICSW, CCM

– Director of Allies in Aging JFS Elder Care Solutions
– Advanced Professional Member of the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA)
-Certified Care Manager

Malka Young and her multi-disciplinary team provide a full range of life care management services for older adults and their families. With over 40 years experience they support families and elders in the community, in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospices, assisted living residences and at home.
– Customized Plans & Assessments
– Short & Long Term Planning
– Guidance with Housing Options
– Care Coordination
– Discharge Planning
– Advocacy & Monitoring
– Family support
Contact Malka today to learn how JFS Elder Care Solutions 
can help your loved ones live better, longer.
Phone: 800-655-9553
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