Abusive elderly residents are by no means a new challenge for care providers, but as the size of the elderly population increases along with the number of dementia cases, it is important to have strategies for dealing with agitation in elderly patients with dementia and for finding ways to help providers deal compassionately and effectively with the issue. Abusive behavior in elderly patients can range from verbal abuse of other residents and staff to physical assault.
The first step is to understand the source of the problem—agitation in elderly patients with dementia—which can help inform our solutions. To understand how to care for elderly patients with agitation of abusive behaviors, start by asking:
If medical causes can be ruled out, then the first step in addressing the problem is getting to know the resident. What is the resident trying to tell us with this behavior?
The first step in addressing the behavior is for the caregiver to be aware of their own feelings. It is critical to the de-escalation process that a caregiver maintains their own composure and is able to be mindful of their tone, body language, and facial expressions.
While being mindful of our own feelings, there are some additional strategies to engage with the resident in a peaceful and calming manner.
Dealing with abusive residents can be incredibly frustrating and difficult for staff. Regular training on best practices and strategies is the best way to ensure de-escalation for the resident and protection for staff.
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