When a parent has Alzheimer’s disease, watching them change as the disease progresses can be extremely difficult. Changes in behavior may be especially disturbing as they may include aggressive behaviors like swearing, yelling, and even physical aggression that the person never exhibited before the disease. Aggressive behavior is most likely to occur in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s and is present in as many as one third of all people with the disease. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes aggression in Alzheimer’s patients, but sometimes there are triggers that senior care providers and family caregivers can watch for to prevent outbursts.
Physical Factors that May Trigger Aggression
Sometimes a person with Alzheimer’s may become aggressive with senior care providers or family caregivers because they feel physically uncomfortable, but lack the ability to communicate their discomfort appropriately. Some of the reasons they may be uncomfortable include:
- Illness or infection.
- Feeling tired.
- Medication side effects.
Emotional and Social Triggers
People with Alzheimer’s have the same emotional and social needs as everyone else, but they often cannot tell others what is bothering them or they may not understand their feelings. Some emotional and social triggers for aggressive behavior are:
- A change in routine.
- Not liking someone.
- Frustration at being unable to complete a task.
- Being confused by communication that is too complicated, such as being asked too many questions.
- Noticing the frustration or stress of a caregiver.
- Feeling like they are being ignored or disregarded.
- Misunderstanding a caregiver’s intentions. For example, a senior care provider may move toward the person to help them stand, but the movement may be perceived as threatening.
Sometimes what is going on around a person with Alzheimer’s or the conditions of an area they are in can cause them to lash out. Environmental factors may include:
- Being too hot or too cold.
- Too much commotion or noise.
- People who are unfamiliar.
- Large crowds.
- The time of day. Most people have a time of day during which they are at their best, and that includes Alzheimer’s patients.
Knowing the triggers that most affect a person with Alzheimer’s can make planning appointments or outings much easier for both family caregivers and senior care providers. For example, if you know that the person is generally able to function better in the morning, schedule appointments and outings during the morning hours. Family members should share known triggers with senior care providers so that aggressive outbursts can be prevented. Conversely, family members should check in with senior care providers frequently to discuss any new triggers or behavior changes. Keeping the lines of communication open can make caregiving tasks easier and less stressful for both caregivers and the Alzheimer’s patient.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING IN-HOME SENIOR CARE IN GOODYEAR, AZ, CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE. CALL TODAY (623) 748-3301.