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Behavior Management

Specialized Care for Those with Dementia and Cognitive Disorders

At Christian Health, we believe in the value of every individual. Southgate Special Care, is a specialized senior-care community designed for people who face cognitive challenges. Southgate Special Care offers professional behavior-management for older adults who display dementia-related behavioral disturbances.

Designed to provide residents with the most clinically and cost-effective treatment in the least restrictive manner, Southgate can accommodate 44 patients in long-term care, with an average length-of-stay of six to 18 months. The highly qualified, caring staff of professionals offers expertise in behavior management, social services, psychiatry, psychology, nursing, activity therapy, and physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Southgate is licensed by the State of New Jersey and is an approved Medicaid facility.

What is behavior management for seniors?

Caregivers of older adults with dementia-related behavior problems often encounter unusual and sometimes embarrassing behavior from a loved one. While these problems may be minor at first, such as refusing to bathe, they may include full-out temper tantrums, or even delusions and hallucinations. These issues may stem from new health issues or be an extension of previous behavior. Still, these unpleasant behavior problems can make it very difficult to know what to do if you aren’t a trained professional accustomed to working with older adults who have behavioral issues.

Behavior management is special-care, short-term treatment designed to modify the severe behavioral disturbances of some forms of dementia and cognitive disorders, such as combative, disruptive, and disturbing conduct. We take the challenge of limiting sometimes-severe behavioral disturbances related to dementia and cognitive disorders head-on. Our staff includes various skilled professionals who coordinate care through a full-time medical director, and we routinely help patients who display combative, disruptive, and disturbing conduct.

Common behavioral disturbances associated with dementia and similar conditions include:

  • unmanageable episodes of agitation;
  • history of abusive behavior;
  • resisting care;
  • refusing to bathe;
  • excessive offensive, vulgar language;
  • screaming and hostility;
  • verbal disruption;
  • self-harm from wandering, falls, and unsafe movement;
  • inappropriate sexual behavior;
  • pacing;
  • destructive behavior;
  • and more.

How do professionals help adults with behavior problems?

By offering compassionate care and understanding the difficulties of a resident who is defiant or resentful towards their caregivers, we can help him/her manage the above-mentioned behavioral disturbances. We know that our residents don’t always have full control over their words or actions, and they don’t take it personally should a resident act unruly or destructive. They focus on the positive and address behavioral problems compassionately, without becoming flustered or frustrated. Our staff’s goal is to help these residents lead a better quality of life.

Our staff approaches residents without being hurried or using quick gestures, since these can startle residents. Likewise, they avoid using loud, directive commands which can make the resident feel vulnerable or belittled and can actually escalate negative behaviors.

Some strategies our staff uses to reduce combativeness include:

  • evaluating the resident and their situation and identifying what caused their negative behaviors;
  • maintaining their composure by awareness of their emotions, tone, and body language
  • listening and engaging with the resident;
  • resisting initiation of physical contact with residents who escalate problematic behaviors, since touching can trigger violence;
  • positioning the resident so he/she feels comfortable;
  • allowing adequate time to address the situation at hand without jumping to conclusions and listening to input from other staff members;
  • attending to the safety of residents with combative behavior and striving to decrease the frequency, intensity, and duration of behavioral problems; and
  • evaluating the response time of the staff and how the staff responded to any given action, and implementing staff education and necessary training to identify triggers that increase combativeness

Activities to Help Older Adults with Behavior-related Problems

We help residents with behavioral problems modify their conduct so it is less disruptive and helps them with dementia-related anxiety.

Therapeutic Activity Program

Southgate’s therapeutic-activity program meets the needs of residents in an environment that is stimulating and social, and helps decrease socially inappropriate behavior. Among the activities is Snoezelen therapy, which relaxes, calms, and provides a soothing, tranquil environment. It increases a person’s awareness of self, others, and the environment through light, sound, and aromatherapy.

Social Services

Special services include on-site pre-screening by clinical professionals. Cognitive-behavior therapy and pharmacological behavior management are conducted under the direction of a staff psychiatrist and psychologist.

Southgate also provides family support with follow-up training, discharge planning, and education.


For Southgate admissions information, call (201) 848-5855 or email