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Do Alzheimer’s Patients Get Angry

Mood Transferenceour Mood Becomes Their Mood

Dementia Caregiver Anger

Think about this: If someone experiencing dementia cannot change their own moods, what happens when a caregiver arrives looking worried or concerned, or someone walks into the room in a bad mood? What happens is mood transference, because we need memory and rational thinking skills to protect ourselves from other peoples moodsand without those skills we can only absorb their moods and feel bad too.

Emotional And Environmental Factor

The most common reason people who suffer from dementia lash out in anger is because they are feeling sad or scared. As dementia worsens, people lose the ability to place experiences in context. Some people, even those who didnt have a history of getting angry, can get so frustrated and scared by this disorientation that they get angry.

Loud noises, overactive environments, physical clutter, large crowds, or being surrounded by unknown people are common factors in patients feeling overwhelmed. In this case, environment and emotional factors go hand in hand.

Ultimately, emotional triggers and environmental factors play a key role in causing anger and aggression. Consider the type of environment your loved one is in and how much interaction and stimuli they receive. Be sure to cater to their emotions to avoid outbursts.

Understanding Alzheimers Or Dementia Behavior Problems

One of the major challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimers or another dementia is coping with the troubling behavior and personality changes that often occur. Aggressiveness, hallucinations, wandering, or eating or sleeping difficulties can be upsetting and make your role as caregiver even more difficult. Whatever problems youre dealing with, its important to remember that the person with dementia is not being deliberately difficult. Often, your loved ones behavioral issues are made worse by their environment, their inability to deal with stress, or their frustrated attempts to communicate.

As you try to identify the causes, its important to remember that a patient with dementia responds to your facial expression, tone of voice, and body language far more than the words that you choose. So, use eye contact, a smile, or reassuring touch to help convey your message and show your compassion. And rather than take problem behaviors personally, do your best to maintain your sense of humor.

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Five Ways To Help Identify The Causes Of Problem Behavior

  • Look at your loved ones body language and imagine what they might be feeling or trying to express.
  • Ask yourself, what happened just before the problem behavior started? Did something trigger the behavior?
  • Are the patients needs being met? Is your loved one hungry, thirsty, or in pain?
  • Does changing the environment by introducing favorite music, for example, help to comfort the person?
  • How did you react to the problem behavior? Did your reaction help to soothe the patient or did it make the behavior worse?
  • Common Causes of Problem Behavior

    Stage : Moderate Dementia

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    Patients in stage 5 need some assistance in order to carry out their daily lives. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented about the time and place, have trouble making decisions, and forget basic information about themselves, such as a telephone number or address.

    While moderate dementia can interfere with basic functioning, patients at this stage do not need assistance with basic functions such as using the bathroom or eating. Patients also still have the ability to remember their own names and generally the names of spouses and children.

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    Take Time To Cool Off

    If none of these techniques worked while we were home, I just backed off, disappeared to another room, and waited for it to blow over. Thats when the mystery of fluctuating dementia symptoms became shockingly clear, because my father usually had no recollection whatsoever of these cursing episodes. Afterwards, he was adamant that he never said such nasty things to me!

    In a way, I must admit these antics were funny at times. When Dad would deny hed had an outburst, suddenly Moms memory would be perfect and shed repeat whatever hed said earlier verbatim! It is so important to remember that when all else fails in dementia care, you just need to let yourself have a good laugh!

    Understanding The Causes And Finding Ways To Cope

    While some people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia remain pleasant and easy-going throughout their lives, others develop intense feelings of anger and aggression.

    When someone with dementia lashes out at you for seemingly no reason, it’s normal to feel surprised, discouraged, hurt, irritated, and even angry at them. Learning what causes anger in dementia, and how best to respond, can help you cope.

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    Dont Take Outbursts Personally

    There was very little that I could do to change his behavior at this point, but I made an important realization: I was still in charge of my own faculties and reactions. So, I developed what I now call the Jacqueline Marcell Emotional Shield, which I want to share with my fellow dementia caregivers. Constructing your own emotional shield is about consciously striving to become desensitized to bad words so they no longer feel like a personal attack. Instead, accept them as indicators that your loved one is frustrated, tired, or uncomfortable, or has some other unmet need. Changing how we respond is really the only option we have when it comes to handling undesirable dementia behaviors like excessive profanity and agitation.

    Create A Calm And Soothing Environment

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    The environment and atmosphere you create while caregiving can play a large part in helping an Alzheimers or dementia patient feel calm and safe.

    Modify the environment to reduce potential stressors that can create agitation and disorientation. These include loud or unidentifiable noises, shadowy lighting, mirrors or other reflecting surfaces, garish colors, and patterned wallpaper.

    Maintain calm within yourself. Getting anxious or upset in response to problem behavior can increase the patients stress. Respond to the emotion being communicated by the behavior, not the behavior itself. Try to remain flexible, patient, and relaxed. If you find yourself becoming anxious or losing control, take time out to cool down.

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  • Take your time: Put more effort into helping your loved one on the way to work than just doing it right right at the time.
  • Make sure you do this as carefully as you can before you begin the effort of contacting the individual. Reconsider anything that interests him or her before attempting to physically touch him or her.
  • Faqs About Dementia And Anger

    Is anger a sign of dementia?

    Not necessarily. Dementia may result in anger because people whore experiencing dementia have lost the ability to consider why other people say or do things and so, take things personally. If a person with dementia feels safe, listened to and respected in your care, anger is much less likely. The DAWN Method is a set of tools that help families and caregivers support their loved one with dementia in a kind way and capitalize on the skills that they will keep.

    Why do dementia patients get angry?

    Dementia patients often get angry because of how we interact with them. We can easily upset them without even knowing that weve done it. A person with dementia is very adept at reading body language, but at the same time, they have lost the ability to understand why someone may have said or done something. If you look irritated, they will take it personally. If you look distracted, they will assume that you dont care about them. On top of that, a person with dementia has lost the ability to control their mood . Because of this, once they are angry, they will have a hard time letting that bad feeling go. The DAWN Method teaches us how to interact in a way that decreases anger and stress for both the dementia patient and the caregiver.

    Is there an anger stage of dementia?

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    Should You Tell Dementia Patients The Truth

    truth could be cruel

    So when we hear about using therapeutic fibbing to lie to someone with dementia, it might seem cruel and wrong at first. But always sticking to the truth, especially about an emotional subject or something trivial, is more likely to cause your older adult pain, confusion, and distress.

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    Behavioral and psychological changes could also be a sign of other underlying conditions, so be sure to speak with your doctor, Roe said.

    Its also important for doctors to look beyond the usual suspects, such as anemia in someone complaining of low energy. Maybe they should also consider giving the person some sort of memory or cognitive screening. This could help pinpoint some other areas that might need to be explored, said Roe.

    This study only included people who had no symptoms of depression or memory loss at the beginning of the analysis. Since depression is relatively common in seniors, Roe said a more realistic sample would have included volunteers with some depression symptoms.

    We were just really interested in learning when these symptoms occurred relative to each other, Roe said.

    She stressed that some of the people who didnt develop dementia during the study might still have gone on to develop it later.

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    Determine If It Is Possible To Alleviate The Issue

    In certain circumstances, you may identify certain situations as resolvable. If you notice the person is expressing discomfort or distress, try to think about what happened right before the event to help identify the source of their anger, which may be causing them to feel sad or afraid.

    It is important not to debate or explain, as someone suffering from dementia will have little context to use their reason but rather try to reorient and reassure them as much as possible to resolve the issue. If you are able to alleviate the issue, this can stop an issue from becoming worse, curbing the persons anger and aggression early.

    Ways To Reduce Anger In Dementia

    1. Accept their limitationsAvoid pushing seniors with dementia beyond their limits by expecting them to do things theyve been struggling with.

    They arent refusing to do things because theyre lazy or refuse to remember.

    Their brains are failing and theyre losing the knowledge and abilities they need to accomplish those once-easy tasks.

    Accept where they are now and work with the skills they have today.

    2. Reduce complex decisionsMaking choices about every part of their day isnt necessary, but there are some decisions your older adult may still want to make.

    The goal isnt to take away their right to choose, but to simplify to make choices easier too many options are confusing and overwhelming.

    For example, when changing, lay out all the clothes they need, but offer a choice between two shirts the red shirt or the blue shirt?

    This way, theyre still participating in the process, but wont have to find and select all the other clothing items they need.

    Similarly, for lunch you could offer a choice between two entrees you know they enjoy a ham sandwich or split pea soup?

    That decision is much easier to respond to than a broad question like What do you want for lunch?

    3. Slow downWere used to moving at a normal pace, but thats because our brains are fully functional and can quickly process information and thoughts.

    When someone has dementia, those cognitive processes slow down significantly.

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    How To Respond To A Patient Hits

    Find Out Where Such Behavior Is Coming From

    In order to effectively manage the behavior of Alzheimers patients, it is important to find out what triggered the behavior. Besides that, it is also important to know what hitting means. Are they scared, hungry or thirsty? Are they reacting to something uncomfortable in the environment? When a patient strikes a person, it is often because of their distress even from remembering their past memories. Hitting could be a result of frustration since simple memories are fading away.

    It may be difficult to know exactly what caused them to lash out. But it is necessary if you want to avoid any future instances of hitting. With time, you will be able to see patterns know what the triggers are, and eventually be able to avoid the common triggers that cause them to be angry. Most Alzheimers patients are not aware they have the disease or that anything is even wrong with them.

    The Message Behind The Behaviour

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    Because of the way dementia affects the brain, the person may have lost some of the inhibitions that would have prevented them from showing their feelings in this way previously. But the feelings being expressed now are important because they represent the persons way of saying something significant. And we need to understand the message. This could be, for example, I feel like a prisoner, Im frightened I dont understand whats going on, Im in pain, or Im so frustrated.

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    Understanding Why Someone With Dementia Is Being Mean

    Does dementia cause meanness or is something else going on? The short answer is that most of us dont really understand which cognitive skills dementia takes away. More importantly, we do not realize which skills are not lost. And so we inadvertently embarrass people and unintentionally belittle or frustrate them without realizing what weve done. We then find ourselves on the receiving end of a verbal or physical blow with no idea what went wrong, and their response seems unwarranted or crazy.

    But think about how you feel when someone you loveor someone you expect kindness fromstarts doing things that make you feel bad. None of us behave well when we feel that were being taken advantage of, made fun of, or picked on. When that happens, we feel indignant and angry and usually tell the other person why. Anger, aggression, frustration, and just plain meanness result when we feel that were not being treated fairly or respectfullyespecially if it happens over and over again with people whom we are close to or expect better from.

    This doesnt change when we begin to experience dementia. What changes is the skills we have available to work with. Dementia takes away skills weve been using our entire lives. And even if our companions love us dearly, their attempts to help us often make us feel worse.

    A Reaction Not A Symptom

    Aggressive behaviour is by no means a common response from people with dementia. Only rarely is it actually a symptom of the dementia. If aggression does occur, the most likely reason is that the person is reacting to a distressing situation for example, they are being stopped from leaving their own home or being helped with bathing by a person they do not recognise who has not explained what they are doing. The starting point in understanding aggressive behaviour from a person with dementia is to consider what might be going on from their point of view.

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    Responding To Anger And Aggression In People Who Suffer From Dementia

    Now that we have identified the three sources of anger and aggression, we will discuss the best ways to respond to this behavior. These situations can be stressful, but there are a number of ways to respond to a variety of different causes.

    Of course, one of the most important steps is to establish that both you and your loved one are safe. If the person is unable to calm down, the best course of action is to seek assistance from others. In emergency situations, it is always best to call 911. If you do, inform the responders the person has dementia, which is the cause of the aggression.

    With that established, there are a number of effective methods to respond to anger and aggression to avoid escalation. Below, we highlight some of the best steps and outline what kind of situations you might use them in.

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    Devoted Guardians’ Response to COVID-19

    Devoted Guardians is actively monitoring the progression of the coronavirus, COVID-19, to ensure that we have the most accurate and latest information on the threat of the virus. As you know, this situation continues to develop rapidly as new cases are identified in our communities and our protocols will be adjusted as needed.

    While most cases of COVID-19 are mild, causing only fever and cough, a very small percentage of cases become severe and may progress particularly in the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions. Because this is the primary population that Devoted Guardians serves, we understand your concerns and want to share with you how our organization is responding to the threat of COVID-19.

    We are following updates and procedures from the Centers for Disease Control State Department of Health, local and county authorities, the Home Care Association of America and other agencies and resources. Our response and plans may adjust according to the recommendations from these organizations.

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    Poor Communication & Mental Triggers

    Confusion or misunderstanding can also lead to anger and aggression. According to Visiting Angels, Confusion is one of the leading causes of anger and aggression in Alzheimers and dementia sufferers. Confusion can be triggered by lost trains of thought, mixed up memories, or a sudden change in the environment, such as a change from one caregiver to another.

    This is especially important to note for communication as well. As a caregiver, you are in direct communication and contact with the patient, therefore, it is crucial that you articulate your instructions in a simple, concise manner.

    Additionally, its important that you as the caregiver try to communicate with as little irritability and stress as possible. We understand that caregiving is a strenuous job, but for the benefit of you and your loved one, it is crucial to make sure you properly communicate with someone who has dementia.


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