How to cope with aggressive dementia patients

Written by abaigeal quinn
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Aggression often shows up in people who suffer from dementia, and is usually brought on by feelings of fright, frustration or humiliation in the patient. Although patients that are hospitalised are more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviours than those who are cared for at home, aggressive dementia will usually have to be dealt with as the dementia progresses and worsens. Coping techniques may be applied to help you to deal with an aggressive patient or family member.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Take deep breaths before reacting to an episode, stepping back to allow the patient or family member space. If the patient is extremely agitated, you may need to exit the room for a few minutes until he has calmed down.

  2. 2

    Remain calm and do not argue with the patient. Try to reassure her or distract her from the issue at hand.

  3. 3

    Offer aid to the patient without appearing to take over the situation. Direct him in small steps, using simple words and allowing them plenty of time to perform the needed action. Offer praise and encouragement.

  4. 4

    Reduce any demands that are unnecessarily placed upon the patient, rearranging her day into a more stress-free routine that she will be better able to cope with.

  5. 5

    If the patient becomes physically violent, move away from him and leave the area; do not attempt to restrain him unless it is absolutely necessary for his own safety. Seek the aid of an additional helper, if possible.

  6. 6

    Analyse, with the patient, what triggers the episodes and try to minimise these types of situations in the future.

Tips and warnings

  • Look for activities to incorporate into the daily routine of the patient that he will enjoy and can perform easily.
  • Pay attention to agitated behaviour or restlessness in order to stave off an episode before it escalates and becomes out of control.

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