What Makes Seniors with Alzheimer's Aggressive?

What Makes Seniors with Alzheimer's Aggressive?
One of the behaviors that many family caregivers to people with Alzheimer’s disease find most difficult to deal with is aggressiveness. It’s incredibly difficult to watch an older family member who has always had a sweet disposition suddenly lash out in anger for no apparent reason. One way to deal with aggressive behavior is to try to understand what the underlying cause is and address that issue. 

Causes of Aggression in Alzheimer’s Disease

Just like anyone else, people with Alzheimer’s disease have needs. However, they may be unable to express what it is they need or want. They may not even know exactly what it is they need. Their inability to communicate can cause them to behave aggressively. It isn’t always easy to figure out what your aging relative needs, but here are some things to look for:
  • Pain or Discomfort: Feeling ill or experiencing pain, such as from sitting too long or from an infection, thirst, or needing to use the bathroom.
  • Medication Side Effects: Some medications can cause drowsiness and make confusion worse, making it harder to communicate.
  • Environment: The environment may be too noisy or crowded. It may also be too cold, too hot, or too bright. 
  • Hallucinations: Some people with Alzheimer’s see things that aren’t there. The hallucinations can be frightening and confusing.
  • Loneliness or Boredom: Not spending enough time with others or having nothing to do can lead to aggression.
  • Frustration: Frustration can be caused by the inability to do things for themselves or feeling like they have no control.
Tips for Managing Aggressive Behavior

If you’re able to determine the underlying cause, first address the problem to see if that helps. Some other tips for managing aggressive behavior are:
  • Focus on Feelings: Instead of focusing on what the person is saying or doing, try to recognize and acknowledge what they are feeling. 
  • Stay Calm: It may not be easy but try not to let the behavior upset you. Stay positive and speak in a reassuring manner.
  • Offer a Distraction: Try doing an activity the person enjoys or giving them their favorite snack.
  • Take a Break: If the senior is somewhere they can safely be left alone for a few minutes, it’s okay for you to walk away for a bit to collect yourself.
Elderly care providers can also help to manage aggressive behavior. Elderly care providers are experienced professionals who can assist with reducing negative behaviors, including aggression. Elderly care providers can reduce boredom by doing activities with the senior, like crafts, puzzles, or even simple household tasks. 


If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in Mount Olympus, UT, contact the caring staff at Interim Healthcare. Call today 801-401-3515.

Author: Michael and Marlena Hawkins, Owners, Interim HealthCare, Salt Lake City, UT 

Interim HealthCare of Salt Lake City has been in business since February 2014, providing in-home personal care and support services that help our elderly and/or disabled neighbors live enriched, safe and independent lives. Our goal is to provide customized care and support services that make it possible for our clients to remain in the comfort of their own homes rather than relocate to an assisted living facility. Interim HealthCare is family owned by Michael and Marlana Hawkins, and is a Veteran Owned Small Business.


Article Categories: