Alzheimers agitation, anger, and aggression can be very difficult for family members. Especially when this behavior is totally out of character from the person they were before the disease took over. The main cause for these behaviors is usually frustration. But they can appear out of the blue.
Prevention is the first course of action. You will need to learn what triggers the behaviors and try to eliminate the trigger. Maintain a calm environment. Listen to them if they are still able to talk. You must remain calm, keep your voice as soft as possible, and try to understand and solve the problem. Learn what you can do to appear non-threatening. You should stand sideways instead of face to face, keep 2-3 feet of space in between you, and use calming phrases. Calming phrases are "I understand", "how can I help you", and "everything will be OK".
Never argue with someone with Alzheimer's Disease! Their reasoning ability is gone. You will only add fuel to a fire you can't control.
Redirection will often eliminate the behavior. An example I use frequently is: a man in the middle stage of Alzheimer's Disease occasionally wants his car. He gets agitated and aggressive very easily. I tell him his daughter took the car in for an oil change and she will bring it back when it is done. He fusses for a minute and I redirect him to watch a movie while he waits for her. After a few minutes he completely forgets about the car.
Often an Alzheimers patient can be easily distracted. I have used this many times in my nursing career. I have used a phone many times to distract someone. I have had agitated patients looking for a deceased spouse whom they don't remember they were deceased. It was much easier and less stressful on them for me to use a phone and call a number and let them listen to a the phone ringing for awhile.
One of my biggest concerns for caregivers at home is caregiver safety. Alzheimers agitation can lead to violence if not handled appropriately. The caregiver can easily become a victim. I believe this happens more often than any of us know. Many people don't understand the disease process or know how to diffuse a situation. They believe they can still reason with someone with Alzheimers agitation. This is not the case!
I have seen many people with Alzheimer's Disease admitted to a nursing home because of their aggressive behaviors. The spouse is often the only one at home with them. The spouse with Alzheimers aggression hurts the caregiver and the caregiver is often to embarrassed to tell other family members.
All friends & family members should keep an eye out for the safety of the primary caregiver in the home.
There are medications available to help control aggressiveness. If you are living with someone who has Alzheimers with aggressive behaviors, you need to make sure your doctor is aware of the aggression. There are several different medicines available. Your doctor may need to try a couple of different ones until he finds which one works best for your family member.Make sure you keep your doctor informed of behaviors and whether medicines are helping or not
There are also several natural calming ingredients which you can try. You can find them at your local health food store or online.
Do you have an Alzheimers agitation intervention that works well for a family member? Share it! Other families would love to hear your ideas or suggestions.
Click on the links below to see helpful intervention ideas. They were all written by other visitors to this page.
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