Alzheimer's Disease: Handling A Relative Who Has Become Aggressive

17 October 2018
 Categories: , Blog

Alzheimer's disease can progress and change as a person grows older. If you've already been caring for someone with the disease and they're moving into the later stages, it's not uncommon that they would become more upset and confused about their cognitive decline. Suddenly, your relative may become more violent, aggressive, and angry. This can be frightening for your family and seem unpredictable. However, these details should enable care to continue and encourage some normalcy.

Identify Triggers

When the behavior first starts, it's easy to be surprised by it. However, identifying times, events or behaviors which bring on the aggressive or violent reactions is key. For instance, it's possible that your relative becomes violent at night--this could be Sundowners syndrome. It's possible that they're aggressive when they've skipped a meal. Some seniors even become more aggressive when they have a urinary tract infection. Knowing triggers for your particular relative will not only help you prepare for possible outbursts but also assist in avoiding those triggers, if possible.

Coordinate Responses

If you're not the only person tasked with caring for your aggressive relative, you must all discuss the situation. It's vital that responses to violent behaviors is the same so that your relative isn't further confused by different responses. With discussion, you can arrive at solutions which have been working and discard responses that have not been effective.

Seek ABA Therapy

While your relative might already have a nurse who drops by, sometimes different, more specialized help is needed. ABA -- applied behavior analysis -- services can be positive for your family. An ABA therapist will not only speak to you and everyone involved, but they will be able to assess possible triggers and problems. In turn, they'll recommend and model specific actions that should reduce aggression.  With their assistance, you can feel better about caring for your relative when the therapist is not there. In-home services are available, if you don't want to take your relative to a new, unfamiliar place.

Take Breaks

Your own stress levels may rise when coping with someone who is angry or aggressive. For this reason, you must be committed to stepping back from care whenever possible. Even an hour in the park each afternoon can refresh you. Work with health professionals and relatives to make time for your own mental health.

Aggression is not unusual for many with Alzheimer's disease. These suggestions will increase your ability to handle them with care at this time. Using ABA services and utilizing the other recommendations can improve this tough situation.