Resisting care, sometimes called combative with care, is a common behavior that is different from agitation or aggression. A person who is resisting care may pull away, attempt to leave or become agitated or aggressive during care activities. An example of a person resisting care may be saying “stop that, leave me alone!” and pulling away from staff during a specific care activity such as bathing. It is thought that resistance occurs because the person does not understand the care activity and sees this as an invasion of their personal space or a threat to their safety.
How to approach the resident:
- Assume a non-threatening posture: smile and speak in a pleasant tone of voice, keep arms open (not crossed), conduct care at the resident’s eye level and from the side.
- Don’t stand over the resident
- Slow down care and ensure you are communicating clearly and explaining the task in a step-by-step process.
- Do not use “baby talk” (elder speak) when delivering care.
General strategies to reduce care resistance:
Encourage the person with dementia to do as much for themselves as they can. Put objects necessary for the task within their field of vision so they are more easily located and remove objects that are unnecessary or distracting.
- Identify long-standing habits and adjust routines accordingly. For example, if the resident is used to doing oral care at the sink, take them to the bathroom to complete this part of their care.
- Consider whether the activity may be uncomfortable or painful and consider pain treatment before the activity.