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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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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