Make The Choice To React Differently To Behaviors

I am often asked to train nurses on how to deal with the aggressive behaviors of their patients.  I always say, “There is nothing you can do.”.   After I absorb the blank stare I am always sure to receive, I go on to explain that once a person has become aggressive, it is too late to apply techniques to keep aggression from occurring.  Our effort should then be placed on learning how to better communicate with those having cognitive problems, and thus increase our ability to assess mild levels of agitation and minimize escalation of aggressive behavior after it has already begun.

The following are my, “Top 10 Ways To React Differently To Behaviors”.  While the suggestions are often simple for caregivers to understand, the hard part is in getting the caregiver to make the choice to implement them into their routine.  After reviewing my suggestions, please leave a comment with any way you are able to incorporate the skills into your own caregiving.

1.  Patients cannot change their behavior.  Change your reaction to the behavior.

2.  Respect the patient while the patient is not respecting you.

3.  Allow the patient adequate time to speak and respond.

4.  Speak slowly and deliberately while aggression is occurring.

5.  Speak in a non-threatening tone of voice and don’t threaten patient.

6.  Expect disorientation and choose to orient patient during conversation.

7.  Expect delusional thinking and choose to agree with patients beliefs.

8.  Keep expectations realistic given the degree of impairment.

9.  Repeat questions using the same wording when you are not being understood.

10.  Convey love and affection through holding hands and providing praise.

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