What Should Family Caregivers Know About Alzheimer’s and Aggression?

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Anger and aggression are common among seniors with Alzheimer’s, and combative behavior often flares up in the later stages of the disease. The outbursts can be verbal and physical, but violence is never acceptable and should be reported to your senior loved one’s doctor immediately. Below you can find information regarding the combative stage of Alzheimer’s and steps your family can take to address the behavioral problems.

What to Expect

As your loved one’s cognition continues to decrease, physical and verbal aggression could get worse. It’s common for seniors in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease to yell at their caregivers and say hurtful things. They may also throw objects at family members and friends in addition to spitting, kicking, grabbing, punching, and scratching.

Causes of Combativeness

Memory loss is often the top cause of combative behavior in older adults with Alzheimer’s. The disease makes it difficult for seniors to understand what’s going on around them, and they often act out due to fear and confusion. At times, your parent may not understand why you’re trying to help him or her, so he or she lashes out with hurtful words or harmful actions, such as kicking and biting.

Other causes of combativeness include discomfort and catastrophic reactions. Due to communication issues caused by the disease, aging adults typically have difficulty speaking clearly and logically. As a result, if a senior is in pain, aggressive behavior may be his or her only way to communicate the discomfort to a caregiver. Catastrophic reactions are also common in aging adults with Alzheimer’s because of symptoms such as confusion, which can cause seniors to overreact to even normal situations.

The cognitive challenges that accompany Alzheimer’s often leave aging adults unable to manage everyday tasks, which puts their safety and health at risk. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of senior home care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services.

Addressing the Aggressive Behavior

One of the worst things family caregivers can do when their loved ones have combative episodes is to lash out in response. The adverse reaction could cause the situation to escalate quickly. Remain calm and look for a swift solution, such as distracting and redirecting. You can distract your loved one by encouraging him or her to do a fun activity like dancing or singing. The objective is to redirect his or her attention to something positive.

To reduce combative behavior, you should always take your time when speaking with your parent and use a calm tone of voice. Don’t rush him or her when doing daily activities, such as grooming and eating. If your loved one feels rushed, he or she might experience higher levels of anxiety and frustration, preventing him or her from functioning well.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Kingwood Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Medical Treatment

Seniors with Alzheimer’s should have medical evaluations, especially if the combativeness appears suddenly. Your parent’s primary care physician may find there are treatable conditions causing the anger and aggression. For example, your loved one could be experiencing discomfort from an infection or other health issues, but with proper treatment, his or her comfort levels may increase significantly. The side effects of certain Alzheimer’s medications could also increase combativeness, but regular checkups allow physicians to determine what’s working and what needs to be changed.

Symptoms such as agitation, confusion, anger, and frustration are common in elderly people with Alzheimer’s. The days, weeks, and months following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be challenging for both seniors and their families. However, these challenges can be made less stressful with the help of caregivers trained in professional Alzheimer’s care. Kingwood Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one enjoy the golden years while simultaneously managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at 832-412-1345 to learn about the high quality of our in-home Alzheimer’s care services.