One of the biggest challenges for people caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia is dealing with sudden outbursts of agitation and aggression. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, these behaviors can occur suddenly, with no apparent reason, or result from a frustrating situation. Understanding the cause for the behavior, how to react in the moment, and ways to reduce incidents of the behavior can help us to cope.
Anger and aggression may develop during the middle stages of dementia, along with other challenging behaviors such as wandering and hoarding. Aggressive behaviors in people with dementia are common, and trying to find the trigger for the event is not always easy. The aggression can be caused by one of three categories. 1. Physical discomfort such as experiencing pain, medications, hungry, tired, urinary tract or other infections
2. Social triggers that can set off an aggressive behavior could be loud noises, large crowds, unfamiliar people in the home
3. Poor communication. For example: asking too many questions, instructions too difficult to understand, or the person is picking up the stress from the caregiver?
During the outbursts try to:
• Take a deep breath
• Remain calm
• Acknowledge the person’s feelings
• Speak calmly
• Try to distract or eliminate the trigger of the event
Don’t be afraid to share with the doctor, friends, and family about the situation. Ask for their help. Remember, this is not abuse or aggression, but rather a behavior that stems from a condition.