Education and Care - Strategies to Head Off or Deal with Behavior Problems

Alzheimer's Foundation of America

  • Pay attention to what the individual with dementia is saying - both verbally and non-verbally. Caregivers also should be aware of their communication techniques, including providing one-step instructions and speaking in a reassuring tone.
  • Think ahead and plan for situations that could result in problem behaviors.
  • Understand that trying to argue with someone who has dementia only results in frustration for both them and the caregiver.
  • Distract and divert attention whenever possible.
  • Hold to the same routine.
  • Keep things simple to avoid frustration.
  • Promote a sense of security and comfort.
  • Use positive reinforcements, such as smiles, a gentle touch, personal attention and praise.
  • Allow the individual to have some sense of control. Being able to "save face" is important to someone who is very confused.
  • Maintain a calm manner even when the individual becomes aggressive or agitated. This can defuse a tense situation and help reduce a person's fears.
  • Assess the situation to protect yourself. Should an individual's aggression become violent, be mindful of your own safety first.
  • Caregivers should practice ways to reduce stress when they become angry or frustrated, since anger and frustration could aggravate a behavior problem.
  • Remember that behavior problems result from the disease. Do not take things that the person says and does personally; it is the disease speaking.
  • Be creative and use common sense.
  • Try to keep a sense of humor even in the most difficult situations.

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