Caring for someone with dementia? These tips may help.

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2 common concerns: outbursts and sleep disturbances

If you’re a caregiver for someone with dementia, you know how challenging your role can be—both physically and emotionally. This is especially true with progressive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, where deterioration of brain function can affect a person’s behavior, causing problems with anger or aggression.

It’s essential to remember that your own health and safety are important—particularly as you address common problem behaviors.

 “These tips may help you manage your feelings, be more effective, and better care for your loved one,” says Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, the executive director of Group Health Research Institute.

Dealing with verbal and physical outbursts

  • Stay calm. Be reassuring and positive. Speak slowly and in a soft tone.
  • Consider what might be contributing to the behavior. Is he or she tired, overstimulated by noise or an overactive environment, or picking up on your own stress or irritability?
  • Be sure to rule out pain as the cause.
  • Think about what happened right before the behavior that may have triggered it.
  • Try a relaxing activity, or shift to a different one; the immediate situation may have unintentionally caused the response.
  • Avoid harm to yourself by standing away from the patient.
  • See the Aggression and Anger page on the Alzheimer's Association website for additional tips and support recommendations.

Dealing with wake/sleep disturbances

  • Create a safe and comfortable sleep environment. Assess and adjust the room temperature, nightlights, noise, and so on. Check for appropriate locks on doors and windows.
  • Keep a schedule. A regular routine of waking up, meals, physical activity, and going to bed allows for more restful sleep.
  • Identify and limit triggers—such as TV, loud music—especially during evening hours.
  • See the Sleep Issues and Sundowning page on the Alzheimer's Association website.
 

Learn more

From Group Health Research Institute

From Group Health Cooperative

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