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A Caregiver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s Aggression

By Dian Brannen, 8:00 am on

The sudden onset of aggression and violence in a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be alarming and heartbreaking. Angry outbursts can erupt for no apparent reason, and the frequency of episodes tends to increase as the disease progresses. The events are usually verbal in nature, but on occasion, a senior may become physically violent during an episode.

At Home Care Assistance of the Lehigh Valley, we specialize in care for seniors with Alzheimer’s and wanted to share some of our caregiver tips for understanding and managing aggression associated with the condition.

Watching for Triggers

If a senior starts displaying aggression, observant caregivers will start to take notice of certain events that tend to trigger the outbursts. Generally, the anger stems from the older adult experiencing chaos, pain or exhaustion. Some possible events that can precipitate anger include:

  • Untoward side-effects from medication
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Confusion caused by a change in routine or excessive activity in the room

Preventing Outbursts

Once caregivers have identified certain triggers that precipitate aggression in their senior loved one, they can be mindful of controlling the environment in a way that avoids outbursts. Clearing the senior’s living area of excessive clutter and keeping noise to a minimum can help minimize confusion. During conversation, it is important to allow individuals with Alzheimer’s to answer one question at a time in order to avoid overwhelming them, and reminding them of cheerful events that occurred in the past can support feelings of peace and security.

Defusing the Situation

When the older adult is experiencing anger, it is important to not challenge the person in any way unless he or she is causing danger to themselves or others. Alzheimer’s patients often have a different view of reality than other people without the disease, and arguing with them will likely escalate an already tense situation. Removing unnecessary stimuli from the room or relocating the senior to a more familiar place, such as his or her own bedroom, can help to reduce feelings of anger or agitation.

If your parent or loved one is experiencing aggression and other complex symptoms of Alzheimer’s that are making it difficult for you to provide the high level of care you desire, know that help is available. At Home Care Assistance, we provide specialized Alzheimer’s care in the Lehigh Valley, allowing seniors to remain in the familiar surroundings of home, while ensuring they receive the tailored care they need to remain safe and comfortable. For more information, request a complimentary, no-obligation consultation today by calling 484-350-3874.