Dealing with aggression
What do you do with an elderly person who is aggressive? Here are tips from our community forums:
When a patient is being aggressive, use a calm, but firm tone of voice — it’s fine to take a moment to collect yourself if you need to — and don’t argue. Be respectful. If you’re concerned about being accused of improper care, be sure to document things.
Check to see if they’re in pain
Aggression may be due to an undiagnosed UTI, hairline fracture, or another condition. If your patient has difficulty expressing themselves, you might have to do a bit of investigating to make sure there isn’t an undiagnosed issue or insufficient pain medication.
Imagine their perspective
What must their life be like? Many patients are afraid of dying, upset by chronic pain, and upset by loss of control. Seeing things from their point of view can help you come up with solutions, or at least help you to be empathetic when they become aggressive.
Find out what calms them down
Many people respond to music. You can put on a recording or give it a go yourself. Ask them questions about their life, make them feel like they’re more than just a number. People do better when they’re occupied, so coming up with tasks to help people feel useful and have a purpose can have a huge positive impact.
Talk to their doctor
If there’s no apparent physical cause of pain and the aggression is disruptive, talk a doctor about medications to help ease the patient’s distress. There are many medications available for anxiety, delusions, depression, and other psychiatric causes of aggressive behavior. It’s also possible that the aggressive behavior is being brought on by a medication they’re on.
Leave them be, but make sure they’ll be okay
If you’re leaving someone in bed, take steps to prevent bed sores. Rotate them frequently, either by hand or using an air mattress designed to do this. Help them to sit up and find comfortable positions, if they’ll allow it.
Originally published at thecaregiverspace.org on June 15, 2015.