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How To Help Dementia Patients With Anger

Why Aggressive Behavior Happens

Top 4 Dementia Anger Outbursts & Triggers

Aggressive behavior is almost always triggered by something. Figure out what that something is and youll both be much happier. If your loved one seems angry and is acting aggressively, check for pain first. Someone with dementia may not know how to express discomfort or pain. To identify the cause of aggression, look for these signs: Stroking or pulling on a particular part of the body. Facial contortions like clenched teeth or inverted eyebrows. Body language, like rocking or pulling away. Appetite change An existing condition like arthritis Dental problems like a toothache Nails that are too long Constipation

Is it a reaction to other people? Is something wrong in the environment? Does the aggressive behavior happen at the same time every day, or in the same place? Maybe a particular person coming to visit will cause your loved one to get upset.

Finding a pattern will help explain, and ultimately manage, your loved ones aggression. One good idea to help is keeping a caregiver diary that lists what was happening when your loved one became angry. Details like time of day, what activities were going on previously or were anticipated, and how exactly the lashing out occurred can be useful in identifying the problem. If you need to see a doctor to address behavior issues, having notes will be helpful for forming a medical opinion. Was the person tired? Uncomfortable? Embarrassed about something?

Physical Causes

Emotional Causes

Take Care Of Yourself Too

Itâs not easy to care for a person with Alzheimerâs disease, especially when they lash out at you. Itâs completely normal to feel overwhelmed, isolated, or sad.

If you are a caregiver, do yourself and the person you care for a favor. Let someone know if you start to feel depressed, anxious, exhausted, or irritable. If you take good care of yourself, you can take better care of others.

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Paranoia Delusion And Hallucinations

Distortions of reality, such as paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations, can be another result of the disease process in dementia. Not everyone with dementia develops these symptoms, but they can make dementia much more difficult to handle.

Lewy body dementia, in particular, increases the likelihood of delusions and hallucinations, although they can occur in all types of dementia.

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Your Superpowerpositive Eye Contact

Eye contact. This is a critical nonverbal communication tool with dementia. Eye contact is your superpower if you spend time with people whore experiencing dementia. You can use it to send instant messages of love, acceptance, gladness, and gratitudeeven when your hands are full and youre at a loss as to what to do next. You can use it to prevent your loved one from sinking into the anger, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings that result in combative or aggressive behaviors.

And the opposite is true, too. If you dont understand that eye contact is more necessary than usual with dementia, you are inadvertently communicating disinterest and lack of caring. People whore experiencing dementia are living in the three-second nowa place that lacks any previous messages of love, acceptance, and appreciation.

So, when you find yourself wondering how your loved one became so mean, angry, and unhappy, remember these tools that you have at your disposal and they do not. Remember that wetheir companionsare able to manage their moods while they are not. And that we can change what we are inadvertently communicating into messages of love and acceptance.

Dealing With Stubbornness In Parents Living With Dementia: 50 Expert Tips For Communicating Gaining Cooperation And Understanding Behavior

Dementia Behavior Management: 6 Caregiver Challenges ...

Caring for aging parents gives adult children peace of mind to know they are providing loving care. It also allows for them to make more memories and spend more time with parents in the final chapter of their lives. But caregiving is far from easy, especially when loved ones are diagnosed with dementia. Resisting care and general stubbornness are two hallmarks of dementia, and they are among the most common reasons that adult children look for help as caregivers.

If youre unsure how to deal with stubbornness in parents with dementia, youre not alone. Most family caregivers of loved ones with dementia struggle daily with getting them to the doctor, gaining their cooperation, convincing them to bathe and brush their teeth, and communicating with them. Read on for a comprehensive list of tips from other caregivers, medical professionals, gerontologists, and dementia experts. Tips are categorized and listed them alphabetically within each category, but are not ranked or rated in any way.

If you need help caring for a parent or a loved one with dementia at home, learn more about Seniorlinks coaching and financial assistance program for caregivers of Medicaid-eligible friends and family members.

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Again You Want To Avoid These Extremes To Do So Here Are Some Healthy Ways To Deal With Anger:

What are some healthy ways you deal with anger? Let us know in the comments.

Bill Amt, LICSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and is the Mental Health Program Manager at Iona Senior Services. As a psychotherapist he works with older adults and caregivers who are coping with the emotional challenges of aging, and he also leads support groups for caregivers and people diagnosed with early-stage dementia. He has a Master of Social Work degree from The Catholic University of America.

Stage : Moderately Severe Dementia

When the patient begins to forget the names of their children, spouse, or primary caregivers, they are most likely entering stage 6 of dementia and will need full time care. In the sixth stage, patients are generally unaware of their surroundings, cannot recall recent events, and have skewed memories of their personal past. Caregivers and loved ones should watch for:

  • Delusional behavior

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Causes Of Anger In Dementia

There are many reasons why someone with dementia may become angry. The anger may be sudden and seemingly come out of nowhere.

Sometimes physical triggers are responsible. If a person with dementia is uncomfortable or in pain, they may react in anger. If they are nauseated or suffer from exhaustion, they may get angry or frustrated as a result of being unable to perform simple tasks.

Emotional triggers may also be to blame. Boredom or overstimulation could result in anger. Feelings of being lonely or overwhelmed may also trigger aggression and anger.

Mental triggers might also be a likely cause. One of the main reasons for anger in dementia is confusion. A sudden change of environment or mixed-up memories or thoughts might lead to anger.

Be Patient And Forgiving

10 tips for responding to dementia anger

It is important to remember that your loved ones aggression and is due to their illness and not their personality or your fault. While it can be stressful and frustration for the caregiver themselves, you should always remain calm and patient in front of your loved one. If they say or do something hurtful, ignore it because it is possible that they dont know who they are talking to or what they are saying. Instead, try to divert the attention to something less stress inducing. Do not judge them or treat them badly in any situation. Remember, it is not their fault, it is the illness.

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Using Medication To Manage Aggression

While the tips and advice above can help tremendously in dealing with a dementia patients anger and aggression, they do have their limits. If you feel that the situations are starting to escalate to a point where your safety or your loved ones safety is at stake, then you should contact your loved ones doctor.

In fact, your doctor should know about these situations from the beginning. They should be kept updated regarding your loved ones episodes. However, if the situation becomes increasingly aggressive and unsafe, the matter should be handled more carefully.

Sometimes, there may be need to introduce medication in order keep your loved one calm and safe. Below are some drugs that are commonly prescribed to dementia patients for such difficulties:

  • Aripiprazole

Aggressive Behaviour In Dementia

In the later stages of dementia, some people with dementia will develop what’s known as behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia .

The symptoms of BPSD can include:

  • increased agitation
  • aggression
  • delusions
  • hallucinations

These types of behaviours are very distressing for the carer and for the person with dementia.

It’s very important to ask your doctor to rule out or treat any underlying causes, such as:

If the person you’re caring for behaves in an aggressive way, try to stay calm and avoid confrontation. You may have to leave the room for a while.

If none of the coping strategies works, an antipsychotic medicine can be prescribed as a short-term treatment. This should be prescribed by a consultant psychiatrist.

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Tips For Common Behavior And Mood Changes

Aggressive & Threatening Behavior

Sometimes things can get out of control and feel very scary. These are tips and strategies for dealing with especially challenging behaviors. If you think that you or others may be in immediate danger, call 911.


The person with dementia is threatening you or acting physically violent, such as hitting, pushing, or kicking you

  • Give the person space and time to calm down.
  • Stay out of arms reach and position yourself near the exit.
  • Avoid small spaces like kitchens, bathrooms and cars.
  • Remove or secure objects that could be used as weapons.
  • Reduce background noise .
  • Keep a phone with you in case you need to call for help.
  • Go outside, to a neighbors house, or public place if needed to stay safe.
  • Take a deep breath and try to stay calm.
  • Listen.
  • Empathize/apologize: I am sorry this is so frustrating.
  • Offer reassurance: I know this is difficult. It is going to be okay, or I am here to help.
  • Give yourself a break take time to care for your own needs.
  • Get help .
  • Tell the dispatcher your name and location and that your family member has dementia. Tell the dispatcher if a weapon is involved.

The person with dementia is angry and accusing you of something that is not true, such as stealing from or cheating on them

The person with dementia is throwing fits or having emotional outbursts, such as yelling, screaming, or banging on things

Anxiety Related to Dementia


  • Regular exercise may be another outlet for nervous energy.
  • Apathy

    Mood Transferenceour Mood Becomes Their Mood

    How to handle dementia patients and what they can teach us ...

    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.

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    Is Anger An Early Sign Of Dementia

    Anger and aggression can be a sign of dementia, especially when it is unprovoked. Any rapid changes in moods or emotions, going from happy to tearful to angry, might be an early sign of dementia. If the anger is accompanied by or a result of confusion, then that is also an early sign of dementia.

    Although dementia cannot be defined by one symptom or sign, recognizing early signs of dementia can help you to understand why anger might occur in someone with dementia.

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  • Check for Discomfort
  • Your loved one may have difficulty communicating. They can have trouble telling you if they are uncomfortable. Signs of physical discomfort may be that your loved one is:

    • having trouble sitting in one place
    • constantly on the move
    • fidgeting
    • irritable

    Making sure that your loved one is physically comfortable will drastically reduce aggression and agitation. Below is a thorough checklist to help you identify physical discomfort:

  • Refocus
  • Always look for ways that you can cherish your loved one. Choose not to focus on the more frustrating aspects of caring for him or her. Pay attention to the immediate situation or activity. Notice if the activity seems to be triggering your loved one. If so, try to be proactive in changing the situation or activity. Redirect to a more peaceful and relaxing activity. If a conversation is upsetting either of you, change the direction. Acknowledge what your loved one said and then move to a different topic.

  • Say Yes
  • Aim to say yes as much as possible. If your loved one mentions that she saw someone who passed away years ago, agree with how lovely that would be to talk to them again. Even build on it and ask what they talked about. This gives you both a sense of connection and comfort with one another.

    “Yes” is a powerful and affirming word. Saying “yes” lets your loved one know that you understand what is important to him or her. That you hear them. That you are listening.

  • Connect
  • Resources:

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    Free Resource For Family Caregivers Of Loved Ones With Dementia

    Right at Home created a free guide to help caregivers of older adults with Alzheimers disease or related form of dementia. The guide was built on the foundation of Right at Homes approach to supporting those with dementia, which focuses on a persons abilities, personhood, and the lifestyle risk factors known to increase symptoms. Visit our Alzheimers, Dementia and Cognitive Change webpage for more information and to download the guide.

    You Are In Charge Of Mood

    How to Respond to Anger, Aggression, Violence, TEMPER TANTRUMS in Dementia

    So, if you are spending time with someone whos experiencing dementia, this is the most important principle to understand: You are in charge of mood. You can bring it and you can change it for both of you. This is the only relationship youll ever have in which you actually are in control of mood for both of you.

    These principles about mood management are among the first that I teach to families and caregivers in my classes, because if we can inadvertently cause someone whos experiencing dementia to feel angry and hurt, we can also consciously cause them to feel happy and safeonce we understand how what they can and cannot do affects their moods. I created the DAWN Method® to do exactly this: to teach caregivers and families how to bring a sense of peace and safety to the people who need it the mostthose who are losing skills to dementia.

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    Remember: Your Needs As A Caregiver Matter Too

    Dealing with dementia behaviors can quickly wear out a caregiver or family member, causing caregiver burnout.

    If your loved ones dementia behaviors have progressed to the point where you cannot manage them alone, help is available. Senior care options like home care or memory care can help relieve some of the caregiving burden while also helping to keep your loved one safe.

    If you are feeling resentment, anxiety, or depression, seek help. A caregiver support group, counselor, friend, or family member can offer camaraderie and advice.

    Other families, other caregivers, are going through the same thing, Hashmi says. They have a lot of common challenges and common solutions to share. And often those are the most effective, because theyre going through exactly the same process.

    Dont Be Afraid To Ask For Alzheimer’s Support

    “Knowing how to detect, defuse, and prevent anger is one of the most important skills for Alzheimers care providers, says Larry Meigs, CEO of Visiting Angels. Its one of the skills we value most in our Alzheimers caregivers.

    If you find that you need support in handling a loved ones dementia or Alzheimers care, help from an Alzheimers care provider can be invaluable. To discuss your options for professional, in-home Alzheimers care, call your local Visiting Angels office today.

    If you are concerned about sudden changes in your loved ones behavior or have questions about caring for your loved one, please also contact your loved ones healthcare provider for information and support.

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    Do Not Ignore Physical Abuse

    As much as one needs to be tolerant, kind, forgiving, and patient with older adults who have dementia, it does not mean that they have to excuse the patients when they become physically aggressive and allow the abuse to continue. It is not to be accepted, and if it happens, it is best to alert your doctor who will work on the solution to make sure it stops. It will keep both the patient and caregiver in safety.

    From physical manifestations to angry outbursts, taking care of an individual with dementia may not be easy. However, working with the tips above can help caregivers and loved ones to get through it. Remember that there are plenty of treatments, interventions and special care providers who can help therefore, you should never be shy about getting help when you need it.

    Poor Communication & Mental Triggers

    Reducing Anger In Those With Dementia

    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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