What To Do When Nothing Else Works

Hello everyone,

You’ve tried distractions, music, walking, going outside, changing caregivers and adjusting schedules. Nothing seems to work with this resident who consistently has challenging behaviors related to dementia. Some caregivers may even tell you that they can’t handle the person anymore. What do you do?

The answer may just be—YOU. You may be the one constant in that person’s life that can help provide them with a sense of safety and stability. If you show a commitment to the resident—showing up when you say you will, doing activities that you promise to do with them—you begin building a trusting relationship which can help lead to a decrease in challenging behaviors. A recent blog post on medoptionsinc.com listed some quick tips on building rapport and trust with people you care for. They include:

  • Listen to understand and assess. Use your therapeutic communication skills here. Make eye contact, and sit facing them when speaking with them. Start sentences with statements such as, “Help me understand what it is you are afraid of…” instead of, “Why are you so afraid?”
  • Be respectful. Do not use baby talk, and explain things on a level they will understand based on their cognitive ability. Repeat things as necessary without appearing annoyed or blaming them for not understanding. Remember that they have a disease.
  • Validate their concerns. Do not dismiss them. Reflect back to them in your own words what they are telling you and how they are feeling. Sometimes, this is all they want—to know that someone hears them and understands.
  • Do what you say you will do—this helps build trust. Don’t make promises that you cannot keep. Be honest.
  • Talk to the person, not just the patient. Learn as much about your resident as possible. It is crucial to know their social history as dementia progresses to help you better understand their behaviors and what may be motivating them.

Consider spending five minutes each day just talking with the resident and getting to know him/her as a person. You may find that you develop more patience and understanding of them, and they may sense this and respond better to you. As the Beatles wisely sang, “All you need is love. Love is all you really need.” Indeed.

Here’s a link to the full article that was posted earlier this month on the MedOptions blog:


Have a great week!

P.S. Send us an example of how you or a staff member have handled resident-to-resident aggression and you can win a prize for your community! Please email your entry by Sunday, July 28th. We’ll announce the winners in the August 4th tidbit.

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