7 Ways to Manage Combative Aging Adults Who Have Alzheimer’s

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Strategies for Managing Aggression in a Loved One with Alzheimer’s in Portland, ME

Some seniors with Alzheimer’s enter an aggressive stage of the disease. This is normal in terms of what’s expected with this type of dementia, even in older adults who have been kind, gentle, and nonviolent most of their lives. Aggression can be a bit unsettling for any caregiver, but there are some things you can do to handle this type of behavior.

1. Don’t Fight Back

Some older adults with Alzheimer’s kick, scream, curse, push, or throw things. Your aging loved one may even attempt to bite you as you try to help with certain tasks. While you might instinctively want to fight back, realize these actions are because of the disease and shouldn’t be taken personally. Instead, remain as calm as possible, and don’t engage your loved one in a way that might increase the aggressive behavior.

The days, weeks, and months following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be challenging for both seniors and their families. However, these challenges can be made less stressful with the help of caregivers trained in professional Alzheimer’s care. Portland Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one enjoy the golden years while simultaneously managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

2. Identify Possible Triggers

Take a moment to determine what might have triggered your loved one’s aggressive outburst. In many instances, it might be something related to the immediate environment that’s easy to correct. For example, a senior with Alzheimer’s may see shadows on the walls as the sun goes down and think there are strange people in the room. Turning on lights to make the shadows go away may make him or her calm again. Other possible aggression triggers include:

• Loud background noises
• Being approached unexpectedly from behind
• Too many people in the room

Also, rule out pain or discomfort as a trigger. Check to see if it’s time for a dose of medicine your loved one may be taking for arthritis or another underlying health issue, and make sure his or her seat is comfortable.

3. Use a Gentle, Reassuring Touch

Something as simple as gently touching your loved one’s hand or shoulder may help him or her calm down. However, there may be times when being touched makes someone with Alzheimer’s feel threatened. If this is the case with your loved one, speak in a calm, reassuring tone and avoid showing any signs of frustration.

A compassionate professional caregiver with experience in Alzheimer’s care can be a wonderful source of support. There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading elder care provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.

4. Validate Their Feelings

Aggressive behavior in seniors with Alzheimer’s is sometimes an attempt to express feelings of frustration, loneliness, confusion, or sadness. Look at your loved one’s expressions to get a better idea of what he or she is feeling. Verbally acknowledge your loved one’s feelings and let him or her know it’s okay to feel the way he or she feels.

5. Create a Calm Environment

When your loved one starts to act aggressively, make the environment as calm as possible. Some seniors with Alzheimer’s prefer total quiet, but others find a lack of any stimulation just as distracting. For some individuals with this condition, a calm environment may include:

• Soft music playing in the background
• A loved one simply sitting nearby to offer comfort
• Access to a beautiful view from a window, porch, or patio

6. Shift to a Different Task or Activity

Aggression may sometimes be triggered by a specific task or activity you’re doing with your loved one. If your loved one suddenly becomes combative, shift to another activity or take a break from the current task (e.g., wait until he or she is calm again to brush his or her hair or help him or her finish a meal).

7. Leave Them Alone for a While

For times when nothing seems to be helping your loved one calm down and you’ve ruled out pain or discomfort as a likely source, it may be best to just leave him or her alone for a while. This will allow your loved one a chance to calm down and give you a chance to take a breather and relax as well. 

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s 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 Portland in-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. Schedule a free in-home consultation by giving us a call today at (207) 835-4849.