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What to do?

What to do when a person with dementia becomes aggressive

  • Stay calm and try not to show fear. Never lose your temper; rather, turn around and walk away as losing your temper or arguing will make things worse. Go and do something to take your mind off what happened. Making something for both of you to drink could also help things return to normal. Should you ever feel that you might lose control of your temper, do not feel guilty. Look for help from people who understand your situation, such as the doctor or support group.
  • Give the person space (stand about two metres away). If he or she feels that you are getting too close, the person might hit out.
  • If the person becomes violent, get out of the way as quickly as possible, leaving the room if necessary, only returning once that person has calmed down.
  • Arguing with the person who has dementia will only frustrate both of you as she or he is not able to reason or understand why you are upset.
  • Do not try to reason with someone in this state. Concentrate on speaking in a calm, reassuring voice and try to distract the person or give reassurance. If necessary, take the person away from the trigger.
  • Do not laugh or tease as it will make things worse.
  • Do not punish the person.