Aggressive behaviors may be verbal or physical. They can occur suddenly, with no apparent reason, or result from a frustrating situation. While aggression can be hard to cope with, understanding that the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia is not acting this way on purpose can help.
Aggression can be caused by many factors including physical discomfort, environmental factors and poor communication. If the person with Alzheimer’s is aggressive, consider what might be contributing to the change in behavior.
How to respond to anger and aggression issues:
1. Try to identify the immediate cause.
Think about what happened right before the reaction that may have triggered the behavior.
2. Rule out pain as a source of stress.
Pain can cause a person with dementia to act aggressively.
3. Focus on feelings, not the facts.
Rather than focusing on specific details, consider the person’s emotions. Look for the feelings behind the words or actions.
4. Don’t get upset.
Be positive and reassuring. Speak slowly in a soft tone.
5. Limit distractions.
Examine the person’s surroundings, and adapt them to avoid similar situations.
6. Try a relaxing activity.
Use music, massage or exercise to help soothe the person.
7. Shift the focus to another activity.
The immediate situation or activity may have unintentionally caused the aggressive response. Try something different.
8. Decrease level of danger.
Assess the level of danger — for yourself and the person with Alzheimer’s. You can often avoid harm by simply stepping back and standing away from the person. If the person is headed out of the house and onto the street, be more assertive.
9. Avoid using restraint or force.
Unless the situation is serious, avoid physically holding or restraining the person. He or she may become more frustrated and cause personal harm.
Managing problems of aggression and violence without using drugs is possible. Discuss ideas with your doctor, make a plan, and see what works best. If a plan doesn’t seem to be working, call the doctor immediately to discuss the problems you’re having. You should also discuss any new ideas that you want to try. Alzheimer’s support groups may also offer good ideas for managing the problem, based on others’ own experiences.
To contact us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
Please call us at (561) 588-4545. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!