Search Brain Health Information
< All Topics

How do I deal with emotional outbursts?

Individuals with dementia still experience emotions strongly, even though they may struggle with memory and problem-solving skills. The amygdala, a part of the brain responsible for fight or flight responses, plays a role in these emotions. When something happens that triggers a strong emotional reaction, such as a loud noise, it can be difficult for someone with dementia to understand where the sound came from or that they are not in danger. 

Caregivers should focus on making the individual feel safe in these moments. This can involve physically leaning in and making eye contact, reassuring them that they are safe. It may also be helpful to explain what is happening in their environment and avoid triggers that can cause emotional outbursts. By providing support and reassurance, caregivers can help individuals with dementia cope with their emotions.

Dealing with emotional outbursts can be overwhelming, especially for caregivers and those affected by dementia. It’s important to understand that sudden and intense emotional shifts are common symptoms of dementia. To effectively respond to these outbursts, it’s crucial to notice and assess the environment for potential triggers.

Take into account the audio, visual, and physical aspects of the environment, as well as the social interactions taking place. Identifying the trigger is essential in preventing future episodes.

It’s important for caregivers and loved ones to respond with empathy, support, and patience. Instead of reacting impulsively, take a moment to understand the emotions being expressed. This might involve providing reassurance, offering assistance, or simply listening. Creating a safe and understanding environment can help manage emotional outbursts and maintain a sense of stability for both parties involved.

Remember, finding effective strategies to address emotional outbursts in the context of dementia is a process of trial and error. The goal is to approach these situations with compassion and empathy, continuously adapting strategies to meet the individual’s needs.

Privacy Preference Center