How to Handle Dementia Outbursts


This morning, you decided that a quick trip to the grocery store would be the perfect thing to get you and your elderly loved one out of the house and active.

The two of you are walking down aisle five of your newly-renovated neighborhood grocery store, when, without warning, your shopping companion releases a profanity-laced tirade foul enough to make you want to crawl underneath the shopping cart and pretend to be invisible.

Since that's not an option, what do you do? How do handle a dementia outburst?

Tips on How to Handle a Dementia Outburst

  1. Keep your cool. Remaining calm is the key to handling this type of situation properly. A level-headed approach will allow you to think more rationally and, oftentimes, your serene attitude can rub off on the person with dementia.
  2. "Move along, there's nothing to see here." If you're in a public place, try to draw onlooker's attention away from the person who is making a scene—explaining, if you can, that the person has dementia.
  3. Perform a search and rescue. Try and figure out what may have ignited the outburst. If you are able to isolate the root cause of an outburst it will help you prevent another episode. Also, try to distract the person with dementia, drawing them away from the source of their frustration, giving them a simpler task that will engage them and bestow a sense of accomplishment once they complete it.
  4. Remember, it's not them, it's the disease. A person with dementia faces a crippling amount of confusion and frustration that can manifest in unseemly outbursts. At times it may be difficult, but trying to maintain this perspective will help you cope with inappropriate behavior.
You May Also Like

Free AgingCare Guides

Get the latest care advice and articles delivered to your inbox!


We need some kind of national senior care to cover this gap or else some kind of pay for stay at home cargivers. I thnk something similar was part of Pres. Obama's original election plank. Othe countires seem to manage. I guess it has to do with where the tax dollars are spent.
i agree - don't hold your breath. Government funding. We used to have large families so in many cases someone was always around to take care of older relatives but society has changed. Now eveyone in the family works - of you are lucky enought to have a job! Some philsopher once said that you can tell the quality of a civilization by how it treats its old people. Sadly, we seem to be getting worse in that respect. Insitutions are very costly and I think they aren't the best answer unless absolutely necessary - but they are a big industry now.
I agree with wvs. I have been in everything you said. Mom is very attached to me. At the beginning that I have to go the grocery store or have an appointment (sthink take me more than 1/2 hr) she didn't eat nothing sometimes until next day. Even when caregivers brought her a tray w/ food. One day I told her "Ok you don't want to eat, well I'll eat because I'm hungry" in front of her. Since tht day whenever I came back (I try to eat w/her) after she tells me that I've let her alone the hold day (it could be 1 hr) and other words I can't write here, she seats down and eat. I have figure out that they are like children that you have to try them w/love but firm and not giving them any chance to keep angry like to give reasons that they cannot understand.