Dealing With Violent Dementia Patients

what to do when dementia patient gets violent
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What is Dementia?

Dementia is a broad term used to describe the decline in mental abilities, such as memory and reasoning, that is severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily life. It is most commonly found in older adults, but can affect people of any age. Dementia is caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob, as well as other medical conditions, and can be progressive or non-progressive in nature. Unfortunately, dementia can lead to a variety of behavioral changes in a person, including aggression, agitation, and violence.

Why Do Dementia Patients Become Violent?

When a person with dementia becomes violent, it is usually because of confusion, frustration, or fear. The person may not be able to understand what is going on around them, and this can lead to feelings of anxiety, which can manifest in aggressive behavior. Additionally, the person may be in physical pain or discomfort, or may simply feel overwhelmed by their environment and the people in it. In some cases, the person may even become violent in an attempt to communicate their needs.

How to Handle Violent Outbursts

When a dementia patient becomes violent, it is important to remain calm and approach the situation from a place of understanding. It is also important to remember that the person may not be able to control their behavior. Try to assess the situation and determine if there is a physical or emotional cause for the outburst. If so, try to address the cause and provide comfort to the person.

If the person is displaying physical aggression, it is best to remove them from the situation and provide a safe place for them to calm down. It is important to avoid physical contact and to speak in a calm and soothing tone. Offer reassurance that they are safe and that you are there to help. If possible, try to distract them with a familiar activity or object.

If the person is displaying verbal aggression, it is best to remain calm and try to redirect their attention to something else. Speak in a soothing tone and try to remain non-confrontational. Do not argue with the person or try to reason with them, as this can make the situation worse.

What Not to Do When Dealing With Violent Dementia Patients

When dealing with a person who has dementia, it is important to avoid certain behaviors. Do not argue or confront the person, as this can escalate the situation. Do not use physical force or restraint, as this can cause further agitation and fear. Additionally, it is important to avoid loud noises and sudden movements, as these can be startling and upsetting for the person.

It is also important to avoid punishing the person or becoming angry. This can be confusing and frightening for the person, and can make the situation worse. Instead, use positive reinforcement and redirection to try to calm the person down.

When to Seek Professional Help

If the person’s violent outbursts become too frequent or severe, it may be time to seek professional help. A doctor or specialist can provide advice and assistance on how to best manage the situation. They may also be able to provide medications or therapies that can help reduce the frequency and intensity of the outbursts.


Dealing with a dementia patient who is exhibiting violent behavior can be a difficult and frightening experience. It is important to remain calm, understanding, and patient when handling these situations. Seek professional help if necessary, and use positive reinforcement and redirection to help the person calm down. With the right approach, you can help the person manage their violent outbursts and provide them with the care and comfort they need.

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