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“Aggression is not a symptom of dementia, but of feeling out of control”

“Aggression is not a symptom of dementia. Instead it is a symptom of the person feeling out of control, fear or frustration.”

This is the message from Jo Crossland, head of dementia care at Avery Healthcare, to mark Dementia Action Week 2022.

In her presentation, Crossland looked at six factors that should inform person-centred care in dementia. These include: cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, previous life experience, personality and character and social psychology (external factors that shape a person).

She explained that understanding how dementia affects the brain is important to understand why people with dementia behave in a certain way, for example, information recall. Physical and mental ill health can alter behaviour, particularly, when communication is affected by the disease, and recognising that the ‘small stuff’ in a person’s life, for example, how they take their tea, can become the ‘big stuff’ for a person with dementia.

She said that person-centred dementia care was about “adjusting the world of a person with dementia in respectful degrees that do not make that person feel like a child”. She added that good care was not about reversing the reality of a person with dementia, but about working with that person to find the best way to support them and their families. She said: “There are ways to help a person live well – with and without medication.”

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