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Top 6 Tips to De-escalate a Person with Dementia's Behavior

November 18, 2023
November 18, 2023
Posted by
Bre'anna Wilson
November 18, 2023
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If your partner is ever upset and becoming increasingly agitated or aggressive, here are some quick tips to de-escalate the situation:

  1. Give your partner space by standing away and off to the side.  
  2. Make sure you know where the exit is, but do not block it.
  3. Relax your body and transition into an open stance.
  4. Talk in a calm, empathetic tone of voice.
  5. Validate your partner's emotions and feelings.  
  6. If appropriate, apologize in a non-patronizing manner — you want the apology to be genuine.

If you feel unsafe, excuse yourself from the room. You could say something like, "I'm sorry. I'll be back in a few minutes. Could you please wait here?" or "I'm sorry. I'll be back in a few minutes. Would you like me to bring you back anything? This will give you the opportunity to remove yourself from the situation and return when they may have had a chance to calm down.

If you partner is using an object as a weapon to threaten you, don't try to take it from them. Doing so could potentially escalate the situation and take an ugly turn. Apologize, back away slowly, and ensure your own safety without turning your back on them. If they instruct you to stop moving, it might be best to comply. Listen carefully to their concerns. Often, when a person with dementia becomes threatening, it's because they feel threatened themselves. Try to understand what they need from you. If they ask you to "get out of my house," "get away from me," or "give back my money," refrain from arguing, even if it's indeed your house or you haven't touched their money. Prioritize de-escalating the situation and consider how you can address their expressed need without further agitation.

As tempting as it may be, do not touch your partner in an attempt to console them. It could make them more agitated and they may even hit you or worse.

If you are fearful that your partner may harm you or themselves and they cannot be calmed, call 911 (or your country's emergency #) immediately and clearly explain the situation — please mention that your partner has dementia. (Dementia-informed first responders are still in the works, but it's always worth mentioning.)

For more information on de-escalation check out: The Crisis Prevention Institute's Top 10 De-escalation Tips

This blog post is for educational purposes only and is not individualized advice. It should not be used as a substitute for professional advice in crisis situations. These are simply general recommendations. Ultimately, you must do what feels safest to do for your individual situation and seek the help of professionals qualified to address these types of situations such as local authorities or healthcare professionals. Under no circumstances will Bambu Care, LLC be responsible or liable in any way for any direct, incidental, consequential, indirect, or punitive damages related to the information shared in the blog post.

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