The progression of Alzheimer’s disease can often lead to challenging behaviors that make the job of being a family caregiver even more difficult. One behavior that may occur is aggression.
An aging relative who is normally sweet and mild-mannered may suddenly lash out at others. They may yell, scratch, pinch, and scream. Although the behavior is a symptom of the disease and should not be taken personally, it can still be very disturbing to witness and make caring for the older adult hard. Understanding the behavior and having some tips for managing it may make the task a little easier.
What Can Cause Aggression?
Many times, aggressive behavior occurs because of something that triggers it. The older adult is unable to express the problem, so they lash out in anger and frustration instead.
Some things that can lead to aggressive behavior are:
- Feeling tired.
- Needing to use the bathroom.
- A sudden change in circumstances, such as routine, caregiver, or the environment.
- A noisy or busy environment.
- Medication interactions.
- Being asked to do something that has become difficult because of the disease, such as bathing.
- Confusion caused by being asked a lot of questions, being unable to follow complex instructions, or picking up on the negative emotions of caregivers.
- Keeping common triggers in mind can help you to identify the cause more quickly, potentially allowing to resolve the behavior more quickly.
What Can Be Done About Aggression?
There are many things you can do to get through an episode of aggression. Some tips that may help are:
-Be Safe: if the person is acting aggressively toward you, protect yourself by staying a safe distance from them while you attempt to calm them. Also, make sure there is nothing in their reach that they could harm themselves with.
-Keep Questions and Instructions Simple: Ask simple questions that are easy to answer. For example, use questions that give the older adult a choice of two things, such as a yes or no question or, “Would you like a turkey sandwich or a ham sandwich for lunch?” When giving instructions, break them down into the simplest steps possible, like “Pick up the toothbrush. Put it in your mouth.”
-Offer Reassurance: Speak slowly and calmly. Tell the person they are safe, and you care about them.
-Prevent Boredom: Prevent the older adult from getting bored by offering meaningful activities and keeping them involved in everyday activities.
If you’re struggling to deal with your aging relative’s episodes of aggression, home care can help. Home care agencies are often able to match the experience of their staff members with the needs of their clients. Therefore, the home care provider assigned to your older family member’s care is likely to be experienced in caring for people with dementia. They may have tricks and tips of their own that can lessen episodes of aggression. Home care providers can also help to offer the older adult a consistent routine and daily activities that prevent boredom.