Of the numerous complex behaviors that may arise in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps the most difficult is physical violence. Even a formerly calm senior can be prone to aggressive outbursts, particularly in the later stages of the disease, caused by several of factors: reduced self-control and inhibition, psychological and mental distress, physical pain or discomfort. When unable to communicate appropriately, the individual might have no alternative option but to fall back on combativeness to express his or her needs. This is when Alzheimer’s aggression can become difficult to handle alone.
The dementia care team at Live Free Home Health Care can help. When facing a violent outburst, keep the tips below in mind:
- Make sure you are calm – and safe. As difficult as it is to keep your cool when trying to help a person who is hitting, biting, scratching, or throwing objects, yelling or losing your patience will only worsen the older person’s behaviors. Stand back to ensure your protection, take a deep breath, and count to 5 before responding.
- Evaluate what’s driving the outburst. It’s important to try to find out what triggered the violent behavior. Is the senior hungry? Too cold or warm? In need of a clean incontinence product? Has something happened to lead to feelings of anger, embarrassment, or annoyance? Is the person in any physical pain?
- The most beneficial reaction is often distraction. Once you’ve ascertained that the person’s basic needs are all met and hopefully were able to identify the underlying cause behind the behavior, re-establishing contentment often can be accomplished by a change of location or activity. Turn on some favorite music, look through a photo album, go outside for some fresh air and show the senior the flowers, trees, birds.
Keep in mind as well that as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sticking with a consistent routine of meals, snacks, rest, and exercise is crucial for those with Alzheimer’s. It’s also beneficial to keep a log to document what’s triggering violent outbursts, the times of day they seem to be taking place, and what has worked (or not worked).
Most importantly, however, is making sure your own needs for self-care are met. Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s is exhausting, both physically and mentally. Engaging the services of a skilled respite care provider with expertise in providing the specialized in home care seniors need is the ideal solution for both the person with dementia and the loved ones providing care.
At Live Free Home Health Care, providers of Alzheimer’s and dementia care services in Bristol & the surrounding areas, we enable family caregivers the opportunity to take much-needed time to relax and recharge with our highly skilled, compassionate dementia care experts. Contact us to learn more about dealing with Alzheimer’s aggression to schedule a free in-home consultation at 603-217-0149.