What do you do with an elderly person who is aggressive? Here are tips from our community forums:

Keep your cool

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.

About Cori Carl

As Director, Cori develops our comprehensive global communications and development strategy. She’s constantly tweaking our services based on data-driven marketing metrics and feedback from caregivers. She works to grow our community and build the reputation of The Caregiver Space by amplifying the message on social media, cultivating relationships with experts, creating organizational partnerships, and earning media coverage. She’s an active member of the community and regularly creates resources for Caregivers.

Cori joined The Caregiver Space after a decade of serving as a communications consultant for a number of nonprofit organizations and corporations furthering sustainable energy and urban planning solutions.

Cori has an MA in Corporate Communications from Baruch College at CUNY and a BA in Media Studies from Eugene Lang College at the New School University. She divides her time between Brooklyn and Toronto.