If you work in a long-term care facility, you may face your share of combative patients. Dealing with someone who's combative can be difficult, especially when they're elderly. It's important to know that there is usually an underlying reason for the combativeness. Once you recognize the cause, you can work to alleviate the behavior. Here are four steps you can take to reduce combativeness in elderly patients.
Consider Their Personal Needs
When caring for the elderly, it's important to consider their personal needs. They've spent their lifetime providing for their own care. Suddenly, they're in a position where they can no longer provide for those needs. If you're trying to reduce combative episodes, consider the moments when the episodes erupt. For instance, does the combativeness begin at bath time? If so, it may be due to their discomfort at being undressed. Consider giving them a towel to cover up with while you're bathing them.
Provide a Calming Environment
When it comes to combative behavior in the elderly, it's important to provide a calming environment. Try to maintain a calming effect on your patient. For instance, utilize soft music in the room to de-escalate a stressful situation. If they're able to, try taking them for a walk to provide them with a more soothing environment. It's also important to listen to your patient. Active listening can help soothe the situation when combativeness is escalating.
Avoid Drastic Changes
If you're working with a patient who has combative tendencies, you want to avoid making drastic changes. Drastic changes can increase stress and agitation, which can invite combative episodes. You can help reduce the combative episodes by keeping the routine as constant as possible. This is particularly important when it comes to meals and personal hygiene. Room changes are another issue that can increase combativeness. If you're going to need to change your patients rooming situation, be sure to make the changes slowly. This will give your patient time to adjust.
Monitor Health Concerns
You might not realize this, but changes in health can also lead to combative episodes. Illnesses, dementia, medication interaction, and even pain, can alter a patients personality, and force them into combativeness. If you notice changes in your patients behavior, and you've eliminated all other possible sources for the combativeness, there might be an underlying medical condition that's causing the combativeness.
If you're working with the elderly, there may be situations that induce episodes of combativeness. Use the methods provided here and a behavior assistant to help keep your patients calm, and avoid combative episodes.