Alzheimer’s comes with many difficult behavioral symptoms. One of the more troublesome behaviors is aggression. An aggressive episode can occur suddenly, and with no obvious reason. It can also be brought on by frustration. During an episode, the senior may verbally or physically attack caregivers or other people around them. The behavior can be disturbing and shocking, but understanding what may cause the behavior and how you can manage it can help.
Causes of Alzheimer’s Aggression
There are many things that can cause a person with Alzheimer’s to become aggressive. Regardless of the cause, it’s important to remember that their actions are a symptom of the disease. Your aging relative isn’t acting out on purpose, so try not to take the things that are said and done personally. Some of the things that can trigger aggression are:
- Being Physically Uncomfortable: If the older adult is tired, hungry, needs to use the bathroom, or in pain, they may be unable to tell you about it. Instead, they may lash out.
- Environmental Factors: What is going on around the senior can cause aggression. A room that is too noisy or active can be a trigger. Or, if the person is in an unfamiliar setting that causes confusion, they might become aggressive. The time of day can also affect aggressive behavior since some people function better in the morning.
- Confusion or Frustration: Being asked a lot of questions that they cannot answer can cause the person to become confused and frustrated. They may also pick up on their caregiver’s negative feelings, such as irritation or stress.
Tips for Dealing with Aggression
The way that caregivers respond to aggression can make a difference in how severe the situation becomes and how long the episode lasts. Some tips for managing aggressive behavior are:
- Find the Cause: Look for what is causing the behavior and try to remedy it. Think about what happened right before the person became aggressive. Also, think about whether they’ve eaten or had a drink lately.
- Address Feelings: Don’t focus on the way the person is acting. Instead, think about how they are feeling and address those feelings.
- Adjust the Environment: Eliminate noise and distraction so that the environment is calming. Turn on some soothing music and remove clutter.
- Don’t Argue: The reality that a person with Alzheimer’s lives in is different from your own. It will do no good to argue with them. Instead, listen to what they are saying and ask them questions about it. This may give you some insight into how they are feeling and what caused the problem.
If you’re the caregiver to an older adult with Alzheimer’s who has episodes of aggression, it may be helpful to join a caregiver support group. This will give you a place to discuss your own feelings safely and allow you to remain calm with your loved one. Also, other caregivers may be able to tell you about strategies they’ve used with their own family members.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider caregivers provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.