Anger & Alzheimer’s: How to Handle The Aggression

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    This past summer I have been  fighting my way through the system to get help for my grandmother who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  It can be a disheartening  task when it seems that everything you do is for naught. The system is just not a great place when you do not know much about this disease.The biggest help to me was the national Alzheimer’s Organization and a great nurse friend. You have to become active in their care.

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    One of the hardest challenges as of late has been her anger and aggression. It comes and goes in a mili-second. The anger can sometimes be full force fury. It takes a moment to reassure her and get her to focus back, but she does focus back.

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    You are trying your best to care for your loved one, but may feel like you are the target of hostility shown by him or her.  I have found that I must keep in mind that there may be triggers for  her anger.

    The anger and aggression is often from:

      • Sensory overloads such as strange situations, sudden and loud noises or movements, and being exposed to groups of people may cause these responses.·
      • Disruption of sleep patterns may decrease your loved one’s ability to deal with his or her emotions.
      • Physical discomfort, such as arthritis pain, will increase the chances of lashing out at you, the caregiver.
      • Your loved one’s impaired vision or hearing may cause a misinterpretation of sound or your actions.
      • Adverse effects of medications can lead to confusion, anger, aggression, and even to seeing or hearing things that are not there

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    Do not interpret anger as you would from a well person. Anger is exaggerated in a confused person, who may not be angry at all. The anger is probably a result of a misunderstanding of what is happening.

    Here are few things that can help you out:

        • Simplify his or her environment by reducing noise, number of people, and clutter.
        • He or she will usually quickly forget the episode and can be distracted by something he or she likes to do, such as a walk, favorite activity, or a treat.
        • Keep furniture and objects in the same place because familiar surroundings will help to offer a feeling of comfort.

    Let me know how you make out? I am anxious to hear how others are surviving this trying time.

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