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Alzheimer’s Patients
Reasons for Anger Outbursts in Alzheimer’s Patients

Posted on April 24, 2017 with 0 comments

Outbursts are expected from Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients and it is this aggression and unpredictability that makes them so difficult to care for.

These outbursts can be controlled by redirecting their attention and medication but experts suggest that finding out what triggers these outbursts is more effective. Caregivers shouldn’t just dismiss aggressive behavior as a part of Alzheimer’s but should try and figure out what causes their agitation.

Cindy Steele, an RN and Nurse Scholar for Copper Ridge has conducted extensive research on the subject and has narrowed down 5 factors that cause aggressive behavior in Alzheimer’s patients.

1) Cognitive Impairment

Family caregivers have an inclination to expect too much from their loved ones that are affected by Alzheimer’s. They tend to ask their loved ones to do tasks which they are unable to do and when the patients fail to complete the task, they get agitated and have an outburst of anger.

Those that are looking after Alzheimer’s patients must adapt their expectations according to the patient’s cognitive ability. They need to understand that Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease therefore the patient’s cognitive abilities will only decline with time and so caregiver’s expectations should adjust accordingly too.

2) Psychological Disorders

It’s very likely that an Alzheimer’s patient becomes depressed. This happens mainly because of the neurochemical imbalance in their brains but also because their disease forces them to live in isolation. The chemical imbalance can lead to increased anxiety and delusions. Doctors are capable of identifying the imbalance of chemicals in the brain and can prescribe medications in an attempt to restore balance. The medication should lead to more emotional stability and improved behavior.

3) Physical Care

Fits of anger can be caused by physical pain as well. Elderly individuals experience physical pain for numerous reasons. A mentally fit elderly individual will be able to address the pain and get help but those suffering from Alzheimer’s will not.
Alzheimer’s and its medication affect the body physically as well. Alzheimer’s patients can suffer from severe headaches, excessive fatigue, and diarrhea. Their inability to communicate their pain properly and get the necessary help can lead to them acting out.
Loved ones and caregivers need to keep a close eye on Alzheimer’s patients to ensure that they are not in any physical pain. Are they rubbing their belly? Are they holding their head? These are the sort of signs that could indicate that the patient may be in physical pain.

4) Environment

Discomfort caused by the environment is another reason an Alzheimer’s patient can have an outburst. Alzheimer’s patients can become irritated over the room being too cold/warm, the room being overcrowded or even because there is too much noise. Being overstimulated makes them uncomfortable, and again, their inability to express themselves causes them to become anxious and leads to an emotional breakdown or fit of anger.
Caregivers and loved ones need to observe and learn what environment their patients are most comfortable in and eradicate any stimulants in their surroundings that may trigger them.

5) Approach

Alzheimer’s patients may not be completely mentally sound but they still have a sense of other people’s behavior towards them. Caregivers and loved ones need to be very patient with Alzheimer’s patients because they feed off your energy too. They know if you are agitated, are rushing them and if you’re being condescending. Forcing them to do things they don’t want to do upsets them instantly.
Caregivers and loved ones need to be incredibly compassionate and patient when dealing with Alzheimer’s patients. They need to be conscious of their tone of voice around their patients. You cannot simply demand them to do tasks or bark orders at them. Keep instructions short and simple, and your body language gentle around them.

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