Alzheimer’s: Dealing with Aggressive Behavior

December 6, 2017
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is not an easy task. Oftentimes, he or she may become angry or aggressive toward you as a caregiver. Before you assume the aggression is a result of something you’ve done, understand that there are various causes for these outbreaks and proper ways to respond.

Some of these causes include:

Physical Discomfort: Your loved one may be experiencing drowsiness, discomfort, or pain due to medication side effects, infections, or other illnesses. Oftentimes, those who suffer from later stages of Alzheimer’s may not be able to articulate the source of the pain; therefore, they may express their discomfort through aggression.

Environmental Factors: Your loved one may feel overwhelmed by his or her surroundings. The environment may be full of loud noises, large crowds, and unfamiliar faces.

Poor Communication: Oftentimes, complex questions or instructions may confuse and overwhelm someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, causing them to respond aggressively.

How to Respond to Aggression

Taking into consideration these possible causes of aggression, how might you respond to your loved one when he or she becomes upset?

First, do not become upset yourself. Take a moment to try to identify the cause of the aggression; is your loved one experiencing pain? Is he or she on any new medications? Respond to your loved one in a delicate tone of voice to create a calm environment, lessening the chances of further upsetting him or her.

Limit the distractions. Remove your loved one from unfamiliar surroundings or areas of high traffic. Consider replacing the activity you are currently engaged in with one that is more relaxing; for example, listening to music, playing a game, or doing light exercise. Regular movement and light exercise can have positive effects on problem behaviors such as wandering, aggression, and difficulties sleeping.

Remaining calm and patient will help to ensure you and your loved one maintain a positive and healthy relationship.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Alzheimer’s Home Care

Keep in mind that you are not alone. Care Options for Kids understands the difficulties families face when caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s. We refer loving caregivers to provide expert Alzheimer’s patient care, ranging from respite services to around-the-clock care.

If you feel that you need assistance caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, give us a call directly at (888) 592-5855 or visit our website to Request a Free In-Home Assessment.