Why Do Aging Adults Who Have Dementia Get Angry?

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Simply having dementia doesn’t mean your older loved one will have unexpected mood swings or outbursts of anger. That being said, it’s possible for such behavior to become an issue in seniors with forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, that normally progress and trigger increasingly severe symptoms as more changes take place within the brain. Here’s a closer look at why this sometimes happens and what can be done about it.

Physical Triggers

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, some seniors in the later stages of dementia become angry if they’re experiencing physical discomfort. This is more likely to happen if your loved one is no longer able to clearly verbalize what’s going on. In some cases, an inability to do certain physical tasks may trigger an outburst. You may be able to manage situations like this by:

• Doing a quick check to see if you notice anything that could be causing your loved one physical distress
• Gently helping with a physical task your loved one is having difficulty with
• Seeking input from a doctor if angry outbursts suddenly become worse to rule out possible medical reasons

Symptoms such as agitation, confusion, anger, and frustration are common in elderly people with dementia. Dementia can be challenging for seniors, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. El Dorado County seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

Emotional Triggers

It’s more common for anger in older adults with dementia to have an emotional source. For instance, your loved one may feel overwhelmed or may not know how to express his or her feelings about a particular situation. Loneliness and boredom can contribute to angry outbursts as well. Possible solutions include:

• Sticking to one topic in each conversation
• Minimizing distractions in your loved one’s immediate environment
• Planning regular activities throughout the day to minimize boredom and loneliness• Looking for visual clues such as facial expressions to tell if it’s time to switch activities or give your loved one a break

Mental Triggers

Older adults with dementia sometimes reach a point where they mix up their emotions and memories. The result could be outbursts due to confusion or a change in the immediate environment, such as being taken into an unfamiliar room or living space. Angry outbursts of this nature may be minimized by:

• Maintaining a consistent schedule to minimize confusion
• Using comforting touches as you offer verbal reassurances in a calm, relaxed tone• Considering in-home care so your loved one can stay in a familiar living space
• Using calming techniques such as playing soothing music

The cognitive challenges that accompany dementia often leave aging adults unable to manage everyday tasks, which can put their safety and health at risk. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of homecare services families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

No Clear Reason

You may have times when you’re simply unable to find out why your loved one is having an angry outburst. First, make sure your loved one isn’t in any clear physical discomfort. If you’ve eliminated physical issues, revert to general recommendations for handling moments of anger, which include:

• Remaining calm and not getting angry in return
• Not making any physical contact unless your personal safety is in danger
• Giving yourself and your loved one time to calm down by leaving the room for a while, if possible

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging task for anyone. The responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but help is available. Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted El Dorado County elderly home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. To learn more about our reliable, compassionate in-home care, contact us at (916) 358-3801 today.

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