Dementia is a cruel diagnosis to some cognitive abilities may remain intact, the capacity to identify individuals, faces, phrases, or familiar situations begins to deteriorate in the early stages of dementia.
Consider it for a moment. Remember those occasions when you were sure you knew a term or a celebrity’s name but couldn’t recall it? Wasn’t that aggravating? This is a common occurrence in dementia, as it affects practically every memory. The saddest thing is that it’s not the celebrities they don’t recognize; it’s the people and places they’ve spent their whole lives with.
Anyone might become agitated by the rising perplexity and inability to recall things. When someone living with dementia becomes agitated, they need your assistance, reassurance, and redirection to help them calm down. Your job, in this case, would be to soothe them and help them solve their problem.
What Causes Agitation and How Can You Help the Person Calm Down?
People living with dementia may become agitated if they experience sudden confusing situations. Even if they are told about the location to which they have been taken, the person with dementia may not grasp or forget that within minutes, becoming restless once again. They become more upset when they do not receive adequate responses.
The cause of agitation varies from individual to individual. It might be a sudden shift in environment or meeting strangers for some. Changes in daily habits, inappropriate medicine, dehydration, or even any form of physical discomfort can all play a role. The unexpected encounter with many people can also cause agitation. Confusion and irritation result from the inability to recognize faces and recall names.
Among the most effective ways to improve a person’s well-being and assist them in calming down and lessening agitation is to engage them in activities. People living with dementia have the same desire to be active and productive as others.
Dementia-friendly activities, according to research, promote good feelings, aid in the retrieval of past memories, and lessen problematic behaviors, particularly in the afternoon during sundowning. And as the caretaker, the happy and calmer the individual is, the happier you will be.
10 Effective Ways to Calm Down a Loved One With Dementia
In order to properly care for a senior with dementia, you must keep track of their everyday activities and schedule their day effectively. This allows you to avoid any possible trigger moments, and the senior can spend the day without any frustration.
1. Keep Calm
Confusion and irritation are triggered when confronted with loud talks and a gathering of individuals. And to avoid this, the person living living with dementia should be surrounded by quiet and pleasant settings. It’s normal to feel agitated while talking to someone who is unhappy; psychologists call this behavior “mirroring,” and you may use it to your advantage.
You exhibit composure when you stop and take a long breath to relax. This will let your loved one feel safer and at ease. Take a pause and try to find out what’s causing the agitation. Understand that they are not attempting to belittle you; they are going through brain changes, which are very frustrating for them.
2. Pay Attention to What They’re Saying
Stop what you’re doing and take it easy. Even if it makes no sense, pay attention to what your loved one is saying. Correcting will just add to the problem. Instead, take some deep breaths and recall a happy experience you and your loved one have had.
Smile softly and offer to assist with what you have to do. “May I help you in setting the table?” for example. Then you may ask for something pleasant, like “Mind helping me look through these photos you love“.
Overstimulation or irritation may inundate a person with dementia. Take a breather rather than plunging in with additional thoughts or phrases. Silence allows your loved one to contemplate and find out what they’re attempting to communicate.
3. Focus On Their Emotions
Although dementia impairs a person’s capacity to understand and communicate, sentiments remain strong. Therefore, instead of responding to your loved one’s words, you should respond to their feelings. Trying to reason with or debate with someone living with dementia would only annoy you both!
Even if the exact words don’t make sense, pay attention to their mannerisms.
4. Provide Validation
You don’t have to lie to enter with your loved one’s sense of reality. Asking respectful questions about what they’re saying is the best approach to achieve this. For example, you may affirm your loved one’s feelings and ask questions if they say there’s a “strange guy” in their living room—even if that man is truly their son.
“That must be terrifying!” you could remark. “Wait a minute, let me get to the bottom of this.
5. Create Clutter-free Surroundings
When you observe indications of agitation, try to keep your environment as simple as possible. Your loved one will typically relax in a tranquil setting. Reducing the quantity of non-essential stuff in a house is an excellent method to improve emotions of calmness. Vivid, disruptive patterns and moving items might be overwhelming; one or two important, personal photos, rather than ten frames, would provide a more relaxing setting.
The senses of your loved one are intensified by clutter. Their brain cannot rest if they are continuously sifting out what is relevant and required. Your loved one will be unsure of what to concentrate on. Limit the items that surround them to help them relax.
Lights are yet another stimulating factor, at night in particular. As the sun sets, it’s critical to the transition from strong overhead lighting to smaller, dimmer lights. The brightness and projections from lights off screens, mirrors, and picture frames might be upsetting or scary for your loved one.
6. Restrict Distractions
Dementia causes brain degeneration, making it harder to communicate thoughts and complete activities. In addition, background sounds, congestion, crowds, and lighting may all overstimulate the brain. Feelings of restlessness may result from this sensory overload.
Create a tranquil atmosphere in your loved one’s house. Smaller meetings should be preferred over large groups whenever feasible. A room full of talkative guests will be more difficult to manage than one or two visitors. When speaking with a loved one, turn off the television.
Limiting your own distractions will also benefit you as a caregiver. According to research, smartphone use has been proved to make you less alert to individuals around you. Furthermore, you may miss early signs of irritation if you are distracted. During care activities, try keeping your phone in another room to see if giving your whole focus to your loved one might help them relax.
7. Ensure They Are Not in Pain
You want to ensure that your senior’s rage isn’t caused by a physical injury, discomfort, or a health concern. For example, they might be hungry or thirsty. Perhaps their shoes are too tight, their clothing is uncomfortable, or the room lighting is too bright. Illnesses can also cause pain and discomfort.
It could also be that they cannot communicate their discomfort or anguish to you, so they show it through agitation and rage.
Attempt to read their facial gestures if they are unable to communicate their grief verbally.
Simultaneously, try your best to connect with them through your facial expression. It’s possible that looking frightened or terrified will aggravate the problem.
8. Keep Them Active
Physical activity can sometimes be the most effective way to relieve tension and anxiety. It’s a fantastic method to relieve tension and anxiety, and it may go a long way toward calming someone with dementia. So allow your loved one to participate in some form of physical exercise with you.
We must discover ways for seniors to stay active. It might be as easy as walking a few steps each day in their own house or assisting with washing or other everyday tasks. Anything to keep the momentum going. Make sure not to overcomplicate things by breaking down each activity into manageable chunks.
9. Follow A Routine
It’s critical to establish a regimen for seniors who have impaired memory or the capacity to make decisions since this will make them feel more at ease and independent.
Sudden disruptions in regular patterns can induce worry and panic, causing someone living with dementia to react aggressively.
For example, setting up regular activities like housework, shopping excursions with friends, and taking medications at fixed times each day. So they are aware of exactly what will happen next in their day – is an excellent approach to incorporating routines into people’s lives.
10. Build A Connection
It’s painful and terrifying to be on the receiving side of a loved one’s abrupt explosion of rage. But keep in mind that dementia affects the entire brain, not only short-term memory. As a result, your dementia-affected loved one can’t manage the level of their emotions, whether they’re terrified, puzzled, or enraged.
The world is mostly seen via the senses as dementia advances. You can spend time together listening to music, going on a stroll, playing an instrument, giving a massage, or brushing your loved one’s hair.
Although your loved one’s personality may alter due to dementia, you may still connect with them.
Bonus Read: Top 6 Memory Games for Dementia
These ways can assist family caregivers in reassuring and calming elderly relatives with dementia. Caring for an elderly loved one can be daunting for families who lack experience or specialized training in residential care, but you don’t have to tackle this difficulty alone.
Last but not least, don’t be hesitant to seek help. This entails obtaining some form of respite care. It may be beneficial to seek assistance at certain points of your caregiving journey. A professional, such as a counselor or perhaps your doctor, may be able to assist you with this. If you are in Texas, I offer family member/caregiver consulting and can help you address your concerns.
You may also get further support from a variety of online support groups.
In the end, you don’t have to do it alone if you want to support someone with dementia. It’s critical to understand that the longer you wait to achieve anything, the more difficult it will become. The individual with dementia will most likely feel better additional help is offered.