Alzheimer’s and Anger

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Family members are often confused and heartbroken when they see a loved one with Alzheimer’s spiral into what seems like a constant state of hostility and anger. Even if they know that these behaviors are a common effect of Alzheimer’s, they may seem shockingly out of character for the person in question.

There are a number of reasons why a person with Alzheimer’s may be exhibiting anger. Among them:

• Pain: If a senior is unable to communicate that he or she is in pain, or has lost the ability to identify the source of the pain, their physical discomfort can quickly manifest as anger. Things like urinary tract infections or muscle and bone issues might not be immediately apparent to a caregiver but they could be a constant source of irritation for the person experiencing them.

• Fatigue: Sleep disturbance (link to that blog) is a real issue for those with Alzheimer’s and the lack of rest can eventually catch up with them and impact their mood.

• Environmental Factors: Sometimes too much noise or over-stimulation can cause confusion and be triggers for Alzheimer’s-related anger.

• Time of Day: Instead of good days and bad days, people with Alzheimer’s tend to have good moments and bad moments. For example, many people find it’s better to get bathing and other tasks accomplished early in the day as conditions can deteriorate as evening approaches.

At Home Instead Senior Care serving Central Oregon, we train our CAREGivers to take these factors and anything else into consideration when caring for a person with Alzheimer’s who is exhibiting angry or aggressive behavior. By understanding that there is always a reason for the behavior – even if that reason is just Alzheimer’s itself – they are better able to care for their clients. Some things they keep in mind:

• Try to identify and empathize with the feelings behind the words or actions.

• Keep a journal to help identify triggers and track effective solutions

• Set your clock according to the person you’re caring for: if bath time is a catastrophe before bed, but goes off without a hitch at 12 p.m., then high noon it is.

• Approach each situation with a plan of distraction. Always keep a few ideas in your back pocket in case you need to make a hasty retreat from a situation that causes the person you are caring for to become aggressive. For example, studies have shown that beloved or familiar music tends to calm people with Alzheimer’s so it’s a good idea to get to know some of their favorite tunes.

For more information, please contact Home Instead Senior Care serving Central Oregon  at 541-330-6400 or Like us on Facebook.



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