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Dealing with an Aggressive Loved One who has Alzheimers

- Friday, March 25, 2011

As Alzheimer's progresses, often there is a noticeable increase in aggressive behavior. Alzheimer's patients often tend to shout and become physical with loved ones. This is more common in men with Alzheimer's than women, but it often occurs suddenly, and for no apparent reason. Because we are often confused about what kind of thoughts our loved one is having, it's easy to become frustrated. Though, however difficult, patience and understanding is necessary to calm them.
Aggression can have many causes such as physical discomfort, poor ability to communicate or an uncomfortable environment. When your loved one becomes aggressive, try to see if you can understand the source of their anger, see if you can make them more comfortable and less upset. Maybe they are tired, hungry, or uncomfortable. Does it seem as though they are in pain? There could be environmental factors that are bothering them as well, such as noise or smells.

Keep in mind, that these feelings would make anyone frustrated, but Alzheimer's patients can be overwhelmed easily and often their only way to cope is to lash out. Also, they may become aggressive over their frustration in their inability to communicate their discomfort to you. Remember not to ask too many questions or talk about too many things at once. If you yourself are irritable, remember, they can pick up on that as well, just as you could if you were interacting with someone who was in a bad mood. It is possible that they may be picking up on your own mood.

The best way to respond to the aggression in an Alzheimer’s patient is to remain calm, reassuring, and understanding. Try to identify what is causing the behavior and focus on them, not the facts. It is very important for them and for your own health that you don't take their behavior personally. Perhaps suggest a more relaxing activity and limit their distractions so they can concentrate on remaining calm. Unless it is absolutely necessary, always avoid using force, this may cause them to become more upset. Normally, the anger does not last long.