As Alzheimer’s disease progresses you will notice that your loved one’s behavior may start to change. Their behaviors might even become angry and aggressive. These can be verbal or physical and can occur suddenly with no apparent reason, or can be the result of a frustrating situation.
While aggression can be hard to cope with, it is important to understand that your loved one with Alzheimer’s is not behaving this way on purpose.
Here are some tips that may help:
• Try to identify the immediate cause: Think about what might have happened right before their reaction, which may have triggered their behavior.
• Rule out pain as a source of stress: Pain can cause a person with dementia to act aggressively, so be sure to check if they are in any pain.
• Focus on feelings, not the facts: Instead of focusing on specific details, consider your loved one’s emotions. Look for the feelings behind their words or actions.
• Don’t get upset: Be positive and reassuring. Speak slowly in a soft tone. If you are getting upset, it might make the situation worse and not calm your loved on down.
• Limit distractions: Examine their surroundings, and adapt them to avoid similar situations.
• Try a relaxing activity: Use music, exercise or even a massage to help soothe and calm your loved one down.
• Shift the focus to another activity: The immediate situation or activity may have unintentionally caused their aggressive response, so try something different.
• Decrease level of danger: If your loved one’s behavior has become aggressive, assess the level of danger for yourself and your loved one. You can often avoid harm by simply stepping back and standing away from them.
• Avoid using restraint or force: Unless the situation is serious, avoid physically holding or restraining them. Force could lead to even more frustration and cause unwanted injury.
• Share your experience with others: Join a support group or an online support community and message boards. Share what response strategies have worked for you and you will be able to get more ideas from other caregivers.