It is natural for aging seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s to feel agitated, scared, or emotional at one point or another. So what can help diffuse this type of situation?
If you are planning to care for, or visit with someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, one of the most important things you can do to prepare is to get ready for is any event where they become upset.
In this situation, you will need to know the best ways to help your senior loved one calm down. Once they’re calm, then you can begin to figure out why they are upset and work on finding a solution to their problem.
Calming down a senior with dementia may not be easy the first time through, but with practice and patience, it can become easier. Some methods are better than others, but the overall key to calming a senior down is to stay calm yourself. Here are 4 tips or ideas you can use to deescalate a situation when a senior loved one finds themselves upset.
1. Mirror Their Emotions
If a senior loved one becomes upset, the first method you can use to calm them down is to mirror their emotions. If they are feeling sad, scared, or just generally overwhelmed, try to imitate their emotions as best you can – without being degrading or mean, of course.
By mirroring their emotions, this can help you use their body’s natural responses to learn how they’re feeling and possibly determine what’s wrong. Try your best to match their distress in order to show them that you understand their feelings and sympathize with them.
This way, instead of them feeling like you are trying to overrule them and “fix” the situation, they will be better able to see that you care and are concerned about their well-being. It will help the senior see that you are listening to them and understanding their feelings.
2. Take Deep Breaths
Once you’re mirroring a senior’s emotions, there is a high likelihood that they will begin to mirror you back. Take notice of their actions, and if they start to mimic your behavior back, then you should begin to take exaggerated, deep breaths that really emphasize each exhale.
As they see you breathing deeply and start to do this themselves, it can help them feel more at ease. Your senior loved one will begin taking deep breaths of their own. Not only will their rib cages relax more, but taking deep breaths like this can also help seniors receive more oxygen to the brain. When there is a steady flow of oxygen to the brain, it can help the senior (and you) think a bit more clearly, or feel less panicked about the situation.
3. Take Their Hand
If the situation calls for it, you can encourage calmness and de-escalation by making one very simple and comforting gesture: Offer the senior your hands to take. Not only does this gesture show your care and concern for the senior, but it can remind them that they are not alone, as well as help them feel grounded and secure.
The hand-over-hand method should be done in a very natural manner, and in a way that is reassuring for the senior. And remember, don’t try to force the senior to grab your hand. If they are pulling away or becoming more angry, this could make them worry more or make them feel untrusting towards you.
When the time is right, try to make this gesture happen as naturally and as calmly as you can.
4. Use Heartbeat Rhythm
Now that you have the senior’s hands in your own, you can integrate what’s known as the heartbeat technique. This is when you can go ahead and begin to gently pump their senior’s hands, being sure you are not causing them any pain, in the rhythm of a heartbeat. This rhythm is an easy and relaxing gesture.
Continue doing this rhythm until your senior loved one feels calm.
These steps can help your loved one feel safe as well as keep your own stress levels down. When you are able to stay calm during these types of situations, not only does it become easier to do in the future, but you are more available and better capable of helping those in need.
We know that it isn’t always easy to help your senior loved one cope with dementia, and that’s why we want you to know we are here for you. With Home Care Assistance of Dayton, you don’t have to go through this journey alone. You can receive the right type of care, perfectly tailored to you.
You can learn more about our world-class Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care by reaching out to our compassionate caregivers today to schedule your consultation.
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