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Screaming or yelling can be extremely distressing to caregivers. This behaviour may be more common for individuals with more advanced dementia who have impaired language or communication abilities. In such cases, screaming may be an attempt to communicate something in the absence of intact communication abilities.

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  Strategies for Managing Screaming
Try the following steps:
  • Address possible unmet needs
  • Promote relaxation
  • Provide structure

Questions & Suggestions
unmet needs
People with dementia have the same needs as we do, but their brain disease can make it difficult or impossible for them to voice their needs.
Examine the following potential triggers:
  • Perhaps they are in pain. Explore areas of tenderness and soreness and provide pain relief. Schedule regular medical checkups.
  • Perhaps screaming is the result of loneliness or lack of companionship.
  • Perhaps they are hungry or thirsty. Provide healthy snacks and beverages.
  • Perhaps they have to go to the bathroom. Make sure the individual has regular toilet visits and change individuals promptly following incontinence.
  • Perhaps they are tired. Provide frequent rests.

Questions & Suggestions
  • Use a calm soothing tone of voice.
  • Create an especially relaxing area using soothing lighting, music, colour and imagery. Go there at difficult times throughout the day.
  • Minimize noise in the living environment.
  • Use massage or gentle touch, whenever possible.
  • Allow the individual to sit in a glider/rocker.
  • Provide a change of scenery, but avoid over stimulation.

Questions & Suggestions
  • Show or tell an individual what you are about to do.
  • Provide consistent routines and caregivers.
  • Be creative when trying to communicate. Use pictures, gestures and demonstrations with objects.
  • Involve the individual in meaningful activity that does not exceed their abilities.

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