How to Effectively Handle the Extreme Emotions of Alzheimer’s

How to Effectively Handle the Extreme Emotions of Alzheimer’s

Screaming, crying, and other extreme emotions of Alzheimer’s can unnerve even the most seasoned family caregiver.

Of the many and varied challenging behaviors someone with Alzheimer’s may experience and display, perhaps the most heartbreaking is uncontrollable screaming and/or crying. Seeing a person you love in an inconsolable state of mind, and being completely unsure how to help or to understand what’s causing these extreme emotions of Alzheimer’s, is both painful and frustrating. How can you help a loved one with dementia feel calmer?

To begin with, realize that crying and yelling in dementia can occur as the result of:

  • Pain
  • Fear
  • Boredom
  • Sadness
  • Agitation
  • Frustration
  • Delusions, delirium, or hallucinations
  • Sundowning
  • An uncomfortable environment
  • Or a number of other factors

For the short-term, try these strategies to help:

  • Stay calm yourself, speaking to the senior in a soft, soothing tone of voice.
  • Try to uncover what’s causing the outburst. Maintaining a journal is a great way to keep track of triggers.
  • Pay attention to both verbal and nonverbal clues. Is the person grabbing at a particular part of the body that could be in pain or indicate the need to use the bathroom? Are they pointing to something in the room?
  • Take care of the perceived need, and then utilize a calming technique, such as one recommended by dementia expert Teepa Snow, or any of the following that may work well for your loved one:
    • Turn on music the person enjoys and sing along.
    • Move to a different room in the home for a change of scenery, or go outdoors if at all possible to take in the sights, sounds, and scents of nature.
    • Provide comfort through touch, if welcomed – holding the person’s hand or rubbing their back or shoulder.
    • Offer a favorite doll or stuffed animal.
    • Provide a snack and drink.
    • Ask for the person’s help with a simple, repetitive task, like folding towels or sorting nuts/bolts or coins.

For a more preventative, longer-term solution, speak with the senior’s doctor for recommendations. This should include a review of all prescriptions being taken for possible side effects and an evaluation for pain management or depression. It’s also helpful to review the notes you’ve made in your journal and make any necessary changes to the home environment or daily routine accordingly.

As the leading provider of dementia care in Novato, CA and the surrounding areas, Hired Hands Homecare is here to help! Our caregivers are fully trained and experienced in creative, effective dementia care methods, and we’re available for as much or as little support as needed, with specialized expertise in helping to soothe and manage challenging behaviors and emotions. Contact us online or call (866) 940-4343 to request dementia care resources and to learn more about our personalized in-home care services.

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