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Coping with verbal and/or physical aggression requires learning and practicing appropriate responses. It is important to observe the individual carefully to identify possible triggers for aggression. The safety of both the individual with dementia and the caregiver have to be addressed. Let's start by looking at an example.

Click the icon below to view a scenario involving a caregiver and an individual with dementia who has displayed aggressive behaviour in the past. While viewing note the strategies used by the caregiver in this situation. Located below for some suggested strategies to help with aggressive behaviour. Compare the strategies you observed above with the strategies on this list.

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  Strategies for Managing Aggression
Try the following steps:
  • Prevention
  • Intervention
  • Follow the code

  • Plan events for times when the individual is well rested and comfortable. Reschedule to minimize agitation.
  • Create a safe and consistent environment (remove harmful objects).
  • Minimize noise and clutter; Maximize orientation through various visual reminders.
  • Develop and maintain a consistent schedule. Implement any changes in routine gradually.
  • Learn to watch for warning signs of impending aggressive behaviour.
  • Develop good communication styles.
  • Distract or remove the individual from situations that promote agitated or aggressive responses.

Questions & Suggestions
  • Medications prescribed by a psychiatrist, family physician or geriatrician may help to minimize aggression. Watch for side effects.
  • Physical restraints should be avoided, as they usually increase agitation.
  • Promote relaxation.
  • Avoid personal injury by leaving a threatening situation if it is safe to do so and call for assistance from friends and relatives if necessary.

Questions & Suggestions
Follow this code
When the individual is aggressive...
  • 1.Try not to react to the behaviour in an exaggerated manner. Instead...
  • 2.Leave the room immediately, if it is safe to do so.
  • 3.Return several minutes later and resume your interaction.
  • 4.If the individual remains agitated or aggressive, reschedule your task or repeat steps 1 to 3.

play video  Transcript Scenario involving a caregiver and an individual with dementia who has displayed aggressive behaviour in the past.
<a href="../pages/agression1.wmv">Download movie</a>


C is the caregiver
F is the caregiver's father

Scene 1:
(The caregiver is talking on the phone)
C. Well today is going to be different, I've learnt some new techniques. I'll let you know how it works out. Bye.

(The caregiver walks over to his father sitting on a couch)
C. Hi Dad, Its Jerry, Dad. Looks like you've enjoyed your breakfast. I'm going to clear up the dishes now.

Scene 2:
(The caregiver returns to the room holding a washcloth)
C. Dad. I'm going to wipe your face now. I'm going to sit down...on the coach beside you and I'm going to place the washcloth in your hand, and I'm going to help you wash your face.

(The caregiver starts to wash his face but the father refuses to be washed)
F. No. No...No. No.

C. I'm going now.
(The caregiver leaves the room)

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