When Dementia Brings Violence: Milford Elder Law Attorney Offers Tips for Help and Support
- By Franklin Drazen
- Posted January 30, 2023
Many people confuse dementia and mental illness. Although dementia can affect mental health, it isn't a mental illness. It is a brain disorder that causes issues with communication and memory loss.
Sometimes, people with dementia display troubling behavioral problems, such as physical violence, verbal outbursts, and aggression. When someone with dementia starts acting violently, knowing how to handle it is crucial for their safety.
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Understanding Agitation and Aggression in Dementia Patients
Behavior and psychological symptoms affect up to 97 percent of dementia patients in community-dwelling settings. Anxiety, agitation, depression, psychosis, and apathy are also common. Memory loss is a debilitating symptom of dementia. However, behavior changes often lead to more significant problems and emotional distress.
Doctors might prescribe medications to control an aggressive dementia patient's behavior. It can help, but the most prescribed drugs have dangerous side effects, such as stroke, fall risk, heart problems, and death.
Caregivers might risk side effects when they can no longer handle aggressive behavior. They welcome the temporary reprieve from angry outbursts and fits of violence. Ongoing aggression and agitation often contribute to a family's decision to move their loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Benefits of Non-Drug Therapies for Behavioral Problems
Non-drug interventions seem to effectively reduce aggression and agitation in people with dementia, according to a review of over 160 studies. Researchers found three nonpharmacologic interventions effective in treating dementia patients.
Massage and touch therapy, music combined with massage and touch therapy, and multidisciplinary care showed significant results in treating violence in dementia patients over prescription medication. Participating in outdoor activities led to effective results over antipsychotic medications for treating aggression. Massage and touch therapy improved instances of verbal aggression.
How Caregivers Can Handle Dementia and Violence
If you care for a loved one with dementia, the tips below can help you handle bouts of aggression and agitation:
- Find a team of specialists – You can hire a medical team to evaluate and treat your loved one's condition properly. A psychiatrist can advise on the benefits and risks of medication for behavior management. An occupational therapist might suggest modifying their daily routine and living environment.
- Change the scenery – Your loved one should be exposed to new scenery. Take them out for a fun activity, such as a movie. Physical activity is also beneficial. It can reduce anxiety, boost mood, and improve memory.
- Use non-drug therapies – You can add massage and touch therapy to your loved one’s treatment. Even a simple hand massage can keep them calm and relaxed.
- Watch for early warning signs – Non-drug therapies are often more effective the sooner you use them. Look for signs of agitation and bring your loved one to a specialist immediately.
- Educate your family – Anyone in contact with your loved one should know about and understand their condition. Inform family and friends of dementia symptoms and how to address violent behavior.
- Use creative tools – Some unusual methods might help relieve stress and decrease instances of aggression, such as dancing, folding laundry, and aromatherapy.
- Talk to doctors – Sometimes, prescriptions are necessary. If you try other options and nothing seems to work, discuss getting your loved one on a medication regimen.
Contact a Milford Elder Law Attorney
Caring for someone you love who is suffering from dementia can be overwhelming. You want what's best but might have run out of effective methods for treating their agitation, violence, and aggression.
Contact an experienced Milford elder law attorney today for assistance. We can discuss options for getting your loved one the appropriate care they need. You can count on us to guide you through this devastating experience and ensure your loved one’s health and future. To schedule a consultation, simply call 203-877-7511.