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Why Do Dementia Patients Get Angry

Excessive Swearing Offensive Language And Inappropriate Comments

Why does a Person w/ Dementia Get So ANGRY and MEAN TO ME? || The “Why” Series

When a senior suddenly begins spouting the worst profanities, using offensive language or saying inappropriate things, family members are often baffled as to why and what they can do about it.

Caregivers have shared countless stories in the forum about elders who used to be mild-mannered and proper suddenly cursing at them or calling them insulting names. When these verbal outbursts happen in private, theyre hurtful When they happen in public, its also embarrassing.

Coping With Verbally Aggressive Behavior in the Elderly

When this behavior is out of character for an elder and gradually gets worse, the start of Alzheimers disease or another form of dementia is a likely cause. If the onset is quite sudden, a urinary tract infection is another common culprit. UTIs present very differently in seniors than in younger individuals, and symptoms often include behavioral changes like agitation.

But if dementia is not an issue and a senior is just plain crass, how do you deal with swearing and rudeness? You can try to set firm ground rules for them. Make it perfectly clear that you will not tolerate such language, especially in public settings. A little bit of guilt may be effective in getting them to realize that their behavior is unacceptable and offensive to other people. Try something like, Dad, if Mom were here right now, she would be appalled by your language, or, You would never want your grandchildren to hear you speaking like that, would you?

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Losing Rational Thinking Skills Means Losing The Ability To Manage Moods

Once we understand the skills lost and kept in dementia, we need to think about how those changes affect our feelings and moods. You may not have considered this before, but if you have both memory skills and rational thinking skills, you are fully equipped to escape any emotion that circumstance might bring your way.

Imagine, for example, that you and a friend have been playing phone tag for quite some time and you are finally on the phone talking, yet she seems preoccupied and uninterested in what youre saying. If youre like me, you might feel a blend of irritation and hurt. I would feel irritation because we finally have a chance to catch up yet she doesnt seem interested in talking, and hurt because shes someone I expect to care about my feelings and to want to listen to me. Now what do I do?

Now, because I dont have dementia, I have the skills needed to change my feelings before they settle into a negative mood. I have both rational thinking skills and memory skills at my disposal. I can use memory skills to remind myself that we havent talked in quite a while so I dont know whats been going on in her life. I can use rational thinking skills to consider whether she might be dealing with something far more concerning than I am. I can use both memory and rational thinking skills to put my story on hold and ask her about herself. I dont have to feel irritated or hurt because I can think about why she might be acting the way she is.

If You’re Looking After Someone With Dementia

Your needs as a carer are as important as the person you’re caring for.

To help care for yourself:

  • join a local carers’ support group or a specialist dementia organisation â for more details, call the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053 lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm at weekends
  • call Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline free on 0800 888 6678 to talk to a registered specialist dementia nurse lines are open 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm at weekends

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Aggressive Behaviour From People With Dementia

Being on the receiving end of aggression is often frightening and distressing. When this has come from a person we are trying to help, we may also feel hurt and rejected. But if the person has dementia, we need to be aware that such behaviour is unlikely to be a deliberate act of aggression in fact, it is much more likely to suggest fear or desperation.

When we realise that aggression is usually a reaction, theres good news we can do something about it.

Understanding Alzheimers Or Dementia Behavior Problems

Why Do Dementia Patients Become Aggressive?

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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Faqs About Mean Dementia Behaviors

Why is my mom with dementia so angry?

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 by asking them to do something that they cannot do. 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.

Does dementia cause meanness?

Dementia patients who are mean and aggressive are most likely feeling fear, anger and embarrassment because they have been asked to use skills that they no longer have. When they fail, they may lash out at us. As companions, we can learn to support them in the areas where they have lost rational thinking skills and capitalize on the intuitive thinking skills that they will never lose. The DAWN Method teaches us to do this through how we interact with them.

How do I explain something to my husband with dementia without making him angry?

Aggression And Agitation In Dementia

Behavioral and psychological symptoms are very common in dementia, and affect up to 90% of people living with dementia. In addition to memory changes, people with dementia may experience agitation, psychosis, anxiety, depression, and apathy. These behavioral symptoms often lead to greater distress than memory changes.

When people with dementia become agitated or aggressive, doctors often prescribe medications to control their behaviors in spite of the known risks of serious side effects. The most frequently prescribed medication classes for agitation in dementia carry serious risks of falls, heart problems, stroke, and even death.

Caregivers, who often experience burnout in managing aggressive behaviors, welcome medications that can temporarily decrease agitation. Unfortunately, aggressive and agitated behavior often contributes to the decision to transition a loved one to an alternative living situation.

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Refusing To Accept Outside Caregivers

It is an important milestone when family caregivers decide to hire in-home care for their loved ones, but this plan is often derailed when seniors refuse to let the new caregivers into their homes. Other elders will welcome home health aides in only long enough to tell them that they are fired!

Coping With Elders Refusing Care

The presence of an outsider suggests to the elder that their family cant take care of them. It also magnifies the extent of their needs and makes them feel vulnerable. Work to understand your loved ones reasons for resisting in-home care, which could include fear, embarrassment, resentment or some mix of the three. Talk to them about their feelings and work together to find solutions that everyone can live with. For example, if Mom hates the thought of letting a stranger into her home, arrange for her to meet the professional caregiver at the home care companys office or at a café for coffee first.

Ask your loved one to simply give home care a try on a temporary basis. Instead of immediately introducing full days of hands-on care, it may help to have a home health aide come in for one day a week to do light housekeeping and meal preparation for a few hours. Experienced home care companies know how to handle situations like this, so dont hesitate to ask for their advice. Once the senior gets used to having someone in the house and establishes trust with a caregiver, they will be more comfortable with accepting additional help.

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Aggressive Behaviour In Dementia

Dementia & Anger – I’m Mad as Hell – And I Don’t Know Why!

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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Unusual Changes In Behavior Can Be Symptoms Of Dementia

One of the most troublesome behavior changes that I dealt with while caring for my parents was my fathers disruptive and hurtful swearing outbursts. At first, it didnt bother me that muchI was used to my fathers lifelong use of profanity to punctuate most of his sentences. In fact, when I was a kid, I made a ton of money at Lent when hed give up swearing and have to pay me a dime for each infraction. My Mom was always shaking her finger and scolding him with, Honey, now stop that swearing!

What I was not used to, however, was my fathers use of the F word. To my knowledge, he had never used that one before, otherwise I know my mother would have slapped him silly. But as his Alzheimers progressed, hed get upset over the simplest things and I was suddenly the target of accusations laced with foul language. I had no idea how to handle these dementia-related swearing outbursts.

I have heard from many of my fellow dementia caregivers who have had similar experiences with their parents and even their spouses. I know firsthand how painful it is to have a loved one say such horrible things. Initially, I cried and pleaded with my father to stop each time he lashed out at me. Curiously enough, my demented mother still furiously shook her finger at him from her hospital bed in the family room, demanding that he clean up his language.

The Thoughtful Pause Between Stimulus And Response May Deteriorate In Dementia

In the last post, we discussed how and why frustration, depression, anxiety, and not participating in activities are common in dementia. In this article well tackle the thorny issues of apathy, irritability, agitation, aggression, combativeness, inappropriate behavior, willfulness, and sundowning.

Apathy is common in dementia. When dementia damages the front of the brain or some of its connections, apathy can result. The normal drive to plan for the future is lost. Sometimes this loss can manifest by letting house repairs go, neglecting to pay bills, or not going to the grocery store until every scrap of food in the house is gone. When more severe, the desire to do anything at all may be gone, and the individual with dementia can sit passively for hours staring at a blank wall or a television that is not turned on.

Disinhibited behavior can lead to safety issues. When your loved one has behavior problems it can be distressing, physically exhausting, and heart-breaking. Behavior problems can also lead to safety issues. Dementia may lead individuals to act precipitously without thinking of the consequences. If they are feeling angry, they could strike out with their fists or any available item, including knives, guns, and baseball bats. If they feel like getting out of the car they may do sodespite the fact that the car is moving! In later posts, well discuss ways of managing these safety issues.

Key Questions

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First Its Good To Be Aware Of The Signs Of Anger Such As:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tense muscles, a tingly sensation in your body
  • Clenching your fists and/or jaw
  • Sweating, getting red in the face
  • Speaking in a louder voice
  • Maybe even wanting to hit the other person

If you notice some or all these arising in you, tell yourself, Im getting angry and I need to be careful about how I respond, take several slow, deep breaths before responding, and even take a time out .

The Seven Stages Of Dementia

What NOT to Say to Someone With Dementia

One of the most difficult things to hear about dementia is that, in most cases, dementia is irreversible and incurable. However, with an early diagnosis and proper care, the progression of some forms of dementia can be managed and slowed down. The cognitive decline that accompanies dementia conditions does not happen all at once – the progression of dementia can be divided into seven distinct, identifiable stages.

Learning about the stages of dementia can help with identifying signs and symptoms early on, as well as assisting sufferers and caretakers in knowing what to expect in further stages. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start.

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Common Behavioral Triggers In Dementia

  • A change in routine
  • A lack of personal space
  • A confrontation with a loved one or stranger
  • Feeling patronized

With these triggers, all of us may feel anxiety or frustration, but combined with the cognitive changes and loss of inhibition of dementia, the reaction may be magnified. It may help for you to consider the circumstances your loved one is facing which would leave you feeling apprehensive or frustrated.

Psychological triggers may also lead to foul language. Some of these potential triggers may include delusions and paranoia.

Our Most Frustrating Rational Thinking Losses

If Im experiencing dementia and you ask me to do something I cant do, Ill feel embarrassed, angry, hurt, or all three at once. Its essential that you understand what someone experiencing dementia is no longer able to comprehend for you to avoid getting combative, aggressive, and mean reactions.

Rational Thinking Loss #1Becoming unable to understand why.

Rational thinking skills are for understanding how, why, when, who and whatthe ability to perceive relationships between facts. Dementia takes that away. So if you try to explain to your loved one why they need to do something, or what went wrong, or how to do something, they will not be able to follow you and will end up embarrassed or concluding that youre making fun of them. Anger or hurt feelings will result. Whenever you catch yourself explaining why, stop. Youre asking them to do something they can no longer do. Youll have pleasanter interactions once you build new conversational habits and turn your focus away from why to talking about things that are pleasant.

Rational Thinking Loss #2Becoming unable to see cause and effect.

Rational Thinking Loss #3Becoming unable to follow sequences.

Rational Thinking Loss #4Becoming unable to prioritize.

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Stage : Mild Dementia

At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:

  • Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty recognizing faces and people

In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.

Determine If It Is Possible To Alleviate The Issue

Dementia and Anger Outbursts (3 Mistakes That You’re Making)

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.

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How To Cope With Dementia Swearing And Aggression

Following my parents double diagnosis, I spoke with their doctors and researched Alzheimers disease, which helped me recognize that Dad was losing his social filters. His ability to think rationally and regulate his emotions was so impaired that he flew off the handle randomly, cursing at anyone he could take his frustration out onnamely me.

Manage Stress In An Alzheimers Or Dementia Patient

Different stress-reducing techniques work better for some Alzheimers patients than others, so you may need to experiment to find the ones that best help your loved one.

Exercise is one of the best stress-relievers for both the Alzheimers patient and you, the caregiver. Regular walking, dancing, or seated exercises can have a positive effect on many problem behaviors, such as aggression, wandering, and difficulty sleeping. Indoor shopping malls are vast walking opportunities protected from the weather.

Simple activities can be a way for your loved one to reconnect with their earlier life. Someone who used to enjoy cooking, for example, may still gain pleasure from the simple task of washing vegetables for dinner. Try to involve your loved one in as many daily activities as possible. Folding laundry, watering plants, or going for a drive in the country can all help to manage stress.

Remembering the past may also help calm and soothe your loved one. Even if they cant remember what happened a few minutes ago, they may still clearly recall things from decades ago. Try asking general questions about their distant past.

Use calming music or play your loved ones favorite type of music as a way to relax them when agitated. Music therapy can also help soothe someone with Alzheimers disease during mealtimes and bath times, making the processes easier for both of you.

Take time to really connect with the person youre caring for

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