How To Act When a Senior with Dementia Acts Aggressively

happy-senior-father-with-daughterSometimes those who struggle with dementia are prone to aggressive behavior. Even though it might seem strange and unfair, there are ways that you can handle the situation. These are just a few ways that you can help yourself deal with the situation at the time.

In The Moment

It might feel strange to be prepared to be confronted by someone who you care about. If someone is acting aggressively, you should do the following:

  • Try not to get frustrated, and take a deep breath. It might feel natural to act frustrated or to take the aggression personally. Even though it can be exceedingly difficult not to take it personally, you have to consider this.
  • Stay calm, even if you have to step out of the room for a bit. It is important to understand that getting equally worked up is not going to help you in the slightest.
  • You want to adapt to the needs and the perspective of your loved one. You want to see what is causing them to act out in such a way. Try to acknowledge what they are saying and suggest that you are listening to them. This might help you determine the trigger that led to the outburst in the first place.
  • Even if you feel it yourself, do not show anxiety, alarm, fear, or anger. These could help escalate the situation because it might increase the agitation and aggression.
  • Always speak in a reassuring, calm voice. As you communicate, make sure that you are maintaining eye contact
  • Offer space when needed, the last thing you want to do is confront or corner someone who already feels agitated.
  • If you cannot eliminate or resolve the trigger, try to distract from the problem. This might not be easy, but it is something worth attempting.


After the situation is resolved, there are still a few things that you could do in order to make sense of the entire situation. These include the following:

  • Focus on the behavior rather than allowing yourself to take things too personally
  • Do not try to revisit the incident or punish the senior for their behavior
  • Find someone that you can talk to about the incident, which will help you feel a bit more understood.

Finding Professional Assistance

It is important to realize when ‘too much’ is ‘too much’. If you find that aggression is becoming commonplace or if you are struggling with handling your loved one with dementia, you may want to look at specialized living options such as the ones found at

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