How to Handle Inappropriate, Dementia-Fueled Outbursts

Dear Readers:

I found this article very useful. My mother, who had FTD, would scream, throw things, and hit me (as well as other people).  The rage would come at any moment and it was not always obvious what would trigger it. Assessing the situation, staying calm, and using diversionary tactics help.

I also learned to duck when the wastebasket and purse came flying at me!

~ Jennifer


This morning, you decided that a quick trip to the grocery store would be the perfect thing to get you and your elderly loved one out of the house and active.

The two of you are walking down aisle five of your newly-renovated neighborhood grocery store, when, without warning, your shopping companion releases a profanity-laced tirade foul enough to make you want to crawl underneath the shopping cart and pretend to be invisible.alzheimer's violent outbursts

Since that’s not an option, what do you do?

Here are a few tips to help you perform dementia outburst damage control:

1. Keep your cool. Remaining calm is the key to handling this type of situation properly. A level-headed approach will allow you to think more rationally and, oftentimes, your serene attitude can rub off on the person with dementia.

2. “Move along, there’s nothing to see here.” If you’re in a public place, try to draw onlooker’s attention away from the person who is making a scene—explaining, if you can, that the person has dementia.

3. Perform a search and rescue. Try and figure out what may have ignited the outburst. If you are able to isolate the root cause of an outburst it will help you prevent another episode. Also, try to distract the person with dementia, drawing them away from the source of their frustration, giving them a simpler task that will engage them and bestow a sense of accomplishment once they complete it.

4. Remember, it’s not them, it’s the disease. A person with dementia faces a crippling amount of confusion and frustration that can manifest in unseemly outbursts. At times it may be difficult, but trying to maintain this perspective will help you cope with inappropriate behavior.

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