Dementia carers often face aggression from patients

An investigation by Pointer found that almost three quarters of nursing home care staff and nurses dealt with physical or verbal aggression from dementia patients, such as breast squeezing or physical violence. Nurses are asking for more time and training to understand this difficult facet of dementia.

Only a quarter of carers or nurses said they got enough time to understand the condition, according to Pointer. However, the aggression has a negative effect on many.

“When I come home in the evening to my husband and he wants to give me a hug, then I am emotionless and I think: ‘Don’t touch this,'” Corry, a carer for dementia patients, told the platform.

Minister of Long-Term Care Conny Helder agrees that care organizations should better equip healthcare workers to deal with aggression from patients. This is especially important as dementia patients are increasing and are expected to double within the next 20 years, according to the RIVM. Helder also advocates for a decrease in the use of psychotropic drugs to deal with agression, or “misunderstood behavior.”

This practice is already becoming less and less popular, but could increase again in the future, said Rob van Marum, an expert on pharmacotherapy. “I know that all caregivers hate it and everyone goes out of their way to avoid it,” Van Marum said. “But if the pressure on healthcare becomes even greater, we will inevitably see that the demand for soothing medication will also increase. Just also for carers themselves to stay afloat in the tough profession they have.”

Besides creating more space for carers and nurses to learn about this issue, Helder and Van Marum believe healthcare workers should get to spend more time giving dementia patients psychosocial support. This means meeting the mental, social and emotional needs of patients.

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