We all have our bad days, when little things bother us more than normal and smiles are harder to come by.  Everyone may experience a day that’s not as bright as others, including your residents.  An occasional grumpy day, where a resident is more unpleasant or stubborn than usual, is just a matter of life.  What should be cause for concern is when this stubborn or unpleasant behavior becomes more and more common.

Here are a few examples that can offer you and your staff guidance on how to proceed when you’re dealing with stubbornness in seniors.

Uncooperative with Caregivers

Are you dealing with a resident who refuses to take their medication, no longer cooperates when getting dressed, or resists eating in the dining hall?  Is this resident shouting at you or using profane language?  It’s time to take a step back and a deep breath.  Your priorities in this type of scenario are to keep calm, stay in control of the situation and figure out what is truly bothering your resident.

First, consider physical factors:

  • Is your resident eating enough?
  • Is her dehydrated?
  • Is she sleeping properly?
  • Does he have an undetected or underlying condition, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

Second, aggression or stubbornness can manifest when residents are experiencing discomfort. Take a look around and listen to your resident’s environment.

  • Is there too much noise?
  • Are there too many stimuli in the room?
  • Is the area too bright or too dark?

Sometimes, though, it may be necessary to rethink your approach when dealing with uncooperative seniors.  Needing assistance with bathing, dressing, toileting or even walking can leave seniors feeling embarrassed.  Give your resident some time to regain their composure and approach them a little while later.

Treat Their Family Poorly

It’s always wonderful to see a resident that has frequent visits from family members.  What is unfortunate to see is residents treating their family members poorly, by berating them, insulting them or making them feel guilty. Whether we’re growing up or growing old, we always seem to save our worst behavior for the ones we love the most.  Because your residents feel most comfortable around their family, family members may, unfortunately, bear the brunt of the resident’s unpleasant behavior.

If you notice a family member becoming overwhelmed because of difficulties interacting with their loved one, suggest that take a break from their visit.  Encourage them to step outside to get some fresh air or take a walk through the community.  This will give both resident and their family a chance to calm down and enjoy the remainder of their visit.

These Behaviors Could Be A Warning Sign

Sometimes aggressiveness or unruly behavior can be a sign of a bigger problem. A change in a resident’s personality can be cause for concern, as anger or outbursts can be warning signs of depression or Alzheimer’s disease.

Depression is a medical illness that affects many seniors, as they often experience a variety of losses later in lives including: loss of loved ones, loss of physical ability, loss of independence and and a loss of a sense of security.

If you notice a change in a resident’s personality, look for other signs of depression as well.  These can include frequent episodes of crying, lack of energy, expressing feelings of low self-esteem, or changes in appetite or sleep.

Residents who is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s may exhibit anxiety, anger, or aggression as they begin to lose the ability to process information or perform the daily tasks they have always done for themselves.  There are many situations that can lead to behavioral outbursts, including changes in their living environment, changes in caregivers, misperceived threats, general fear, or exhaustion.

Whether it’s working with residents and family members to improve communications or training your staff on aging sensitivity, SeniorLivingU many resources to help when dealing with uncooperative residents.