My mom becomes mean and aggressive towards caregiver. Mom yells at her to get out and may even try to slap her away. It’s a daily struggle and the caregiver’s ready to quit.


Common response: Caregiver wakes up mom who is sleeping in her bed, tells it is time to get up and clean up, tries to help to get out of bed. Mom refuses to get out of bed and to get ready, want to stay in bed. Mom throws her pillow at caregiver, makes fists, tries to punch caregiver when caregiver attempts to try to get mom out of bed. Caregiver asked mom to calm down, explaining she is doing her job. Patient refuses help from caregiver, asked caregiver to leave.

Expert explanation: People with dementia can become aggressive for many reasons–it may be an expression of pain, fear, frustration, depression, or anger. People with dementia may not understand what you are asking them to do and become frustrated. . Use distraction, encouragement, reassurance, and try to be flexible if someone is being uncooperative and angry.

Recommended response: Mom in bed. Caregiver introduces self and plan of the day. When patient refuses to get ready for the day, caregiver offers to come back to reattempt and give choices without rush, giving ample time. When patient with dementia requests to eat in bed instead of dining table, caregiver offers alternate option of eating on the table in her bedroom, not in bed.

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The project described was supported by Grant Number 1C1CMS330982 from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies. This project was funded, in part, by the Archstone Foundation.