People coping with Alzheimer’s disease can sometimes become agitated or aggressive as the disease progresses. Agitation often means that a person is restless or worried. This may present itself as pacing, sleeplessness, or aggression. Aggression can be both verbal and physical.
Most of the time agitation and aggression will happen for a reason. When it happens, try to identify what is triggering the behavior. If you are able to address the underlying cause of the behavior you may be able to reduce or avoid incidents all together. Unfortunately, a person with Alzheimer’s may not be able to communicate their needs well so here are a few things you should look for:
Watch for early signs of agitation. If you see the signs, you can deal with the cause before problem behaviors start. Try not to ignore the problem. Doing nothing can cause the issues to escalate.
Here are a few ways you can address agitation or aggressive behavior:
1. Reassure the person by Speaking calmly.
2. Listen to their concerns and frustrations.
3. Try to show that you understand if they are angry or scared.
4. Allow the person to keep as much control in their life as possible.
5. Try to keep a routine by bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time everyday.
6. Try soothing music, reading, or going for a walk.
7. Reduce noise.
8. Reduce the number of people in the room.
9. Try to redirect the person with a favorite snack, object, or activity.
10. Limit the amount of caffeine and sugar.
Also consider visiting a doctor. He or she can give the person an exam to find any problems that may not be readily apparent. You may also want to ask about depression and find out if medicine is needed to prevent or reduce incidents.
Coping with agitation and aggression can be exhausting, not just for your loved one but for you as well. It’s essential that you also take care of yourself. You’ll be in a better position to give your loved one the patience and support they need when you’re rested and healthy. If you are feeling overwhelmed ask other family members or friends to step in so you can take a break. You can also explore respite care and other professional support services, which can help you take time out from your caregiving duties.
Ty Strahl is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) based in Spokane Washington. Her job is to help navigate the many aspects of aging and to help seniors who are in transition to find the right solutions for their individual needs.