How to Calm a Confused or Agitated Elderly Relative With Dementia
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How to Calm a Confused or Agitated Elderly Relative With Dementia

Caring for an elderly relative with dementia can be a difficult and harrowing experience. As the illness progresses, they may become confused or agitated as they struggle to make sense of their surroundings. It's important that caregivers understand how to properly respond in these situations, in order to help their loved one regain calmness and stability.

Identifying the Signs of Confusion or Agitation

As a caregiver, you may notice both physical and behavioral changes occurring in a confused senior living with dementia. 

Physical Signs: Common physical signs include restlessness, pacing, rocking back and forth, and fidgeting. Other changes to watch out for are paleness or redness in the face, trembling hands, sudden perspiration on the forehead or upper lip, a clenched jaw, and an increased heart rate.

Behavioral Signs: Behaviors associated with confusion can range from minor issues like rummaging through drawers or repeating certain activities, to severe cases like verbal outbursts or hostility towards the people around them. It is also common for someone living with dementia to become agitated if they cannot adequately express themselves verbally. This may come out suddenly as yelling or crying when they're trying to communicate with another person. 

How to Respond to the Signs

Once you have identified the physical and behavioral signs of confusion or agitation, there are a few key intervention techniques you can use in order to help your loved one stay calm:

Remain Calm

First and foremost, it's important to remain calm. By addressing their agitation in a gentle and supportive manner, you're letting them know that they're safe. Avoid making any sudden movements or loud noises, which could only frighten them further. 

Speak Slowly and Clearly

When someone is experiencing agitation, your words have the power to help them regain control of their emotions. Speak slowly and clearly to ensure that your message will be heard and understood. Try not to use any confusing or unfamiliar language, as this may only add to their confusion or sense of disorientation.

Reassure Them

When a senior with dementia is feeling confused or agitated, it's essential to help them feel secure and in control. Give them words of comfort and reassurance, such as "It's OK. I'm here with you," or "You're safe." This helps to ease their anxiety and provides a sense of stability during this difficult time. 

Provide a Distraction

Giving your loved one something to focus on can help them to calm down. This could be a simple task like counting objects in the room, looking at pictures, or listening to music. These activities provide a distraction from their agitation, giving them an opportunity to refocus their attention and relax.

Strategies for Reducing Confusion

Once they are feeling calmer, there are two main ways you can help prevent and reduce confusion in the future: environment and routine.

Keep a Calm Environment

The environment can have a significant impact on the emotional and cognitive state of seniors with dementia. Keeping their environment calm and consistent is essential to reducing confusion. Take some time to make sure that the furniture, decorations, lighting, and noise levels are not causing an added sense of agitation or disorientation for your loved one.

Establish a Routine

Establishing a predictable routine will also help to minimize confusion and agitation. This helps the seniors to feel more in control of their daily life, as they can anticipate what will happen next. Build in regular meal times, naptimes, and activities to give them something familiar that they can rely on. Having a stable routine will also make it easier for you to notice when any changes in their behavior occur, so you can stay on top of their health.

Find Help from Senior Helpers

We know caring for a relative with dementia can be an emotionally taxing experience. If you're in the Clearwater, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Pinellas Park, Largo, or Clearwater Beaches communities, though, you never have to feel like you're doing it alone. For more tips on how to care for someone living with dementia, contact Senior Helpers of Clearwater today!