I received an email from a woman that is angry about the December 25th Ask the Expert column on Managing Anger. My response to her letter elaborates a bit further than the original post and addresses some of the problems in more detail.
I am angry! Angry at your answer in the Dec. 25 column to the women who has an angry husband. She did not mention he has Alzheimer or any other disease.You listed 12 (twelve) ways for her to “bow down” and cater to his anger! You told her to “tip-toe” around him. How much should she take? I see his anger as abuse, and she should put a stop to it and stand her grounds before he becomes physical! Why didn’t you tell her to find a way to take him to a doctor or find professional support for herself?
Instead, you told her to be “nice” and “careful” not to trigger his anger.
Now, my question:
If his anger is caused by Alzheimer or any other disease, shouldn’t the husband be taking medication to control his mood?! Or should everyone continue to be afraid of his “anger”?
If medications cause mood swing to that point, something should be done about it. Don’t tell this woman “watch what you do” as if it’s her fault. Be nice to me now, I’m angry!
Thank you for reading it.
Good morning! Thank you for your comments! Let me begin by clarifying that the Post only allows us 230 words in our column. Although in most cases I am able to answer the question fully, there are some topics and questions that would be better served with greater elaboration and a much longer response. I usually try to refer people to my blog, where I write in more detail on those types of issues.
In this case, the patient suffers from mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. He is angry and not able to clearly articulate his feelings. Changes in routine and environment make things worse and he begins to show his anger through facial expressions, yelling and becoming belligerent. This is very common and yet most distressing to caregivers and family members.
The recommendations in the Post are tips that I have shared with caregivers for years and who have reported good results. By no means do they work with every patient. Trial and error continues to be important in all things related to caring for the Alzheimer’s/dementia patient particularly when it comes to behavioral issues.
Physician’s will normally not prescribe medications simply because a patient is angry, however I have quite a few patients that are on medication for other problems and whose caregivers report they have seen an improvement in their loved ones demeanor.
A person suffering from Alzheimer’s is trapped. They are frightened, scared and often frustrated that they can’t verbalize or explain what they want or how they are feeling. A caregiver that is able to diffuse their loved ones anger by trying some of the tips suggested, is usually successful to some degree. By no means is there an easy answer.
I hope I’ve addressed your question to your satisfaction. Please don’t hesitate to write me again or reach out to me at 561-588-4545. As always, I invite you to feel free to submit your own question to me at [email protected]