Is Anger a Sign of Dementia?
While not so obvious as some other signs of dementia, such as memory loss, confusion, or speech impairment, anger is also one of the big challenges of dementia. Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia can make anger issues much worse in people who already experience them, or develop anger problems in those who previously didn’t have them.
Managing mood swings and anger in dementia patients can be very hard. That being said, learning about anger prevention and developing effective coping strategies can help alleviate caregiver stress and make dementia care much easier.
Understanding Anger in Dementia
The first step in managing anger issues in dementia patients is understanding the causes and triggers of their anger. Once you understand where your loved one’s anger stems from, it will be easier to understand the person’s feelings, prevent aggressive behavior, and offer support.
Anger in dementia patients can be caused by different physical factors, emotional triggers, and cognitive challenges.
Physical factors such as exhaustion, pain, or discomfort may cause the person to feel angry and frustrated.
A person may also become angry due to emotional triggers such as feelings of loneliness or monotony they experience.
Confusion is one of the main causes of anger and aggression in people in dementia.
Strategies for Preventing Anger Outbursts
If you understand what triggers anger and aggression in your loved one with dementia, it will be easier to avoid those triggers and prevent aggressive behavior. Here are some tips on how to prevent aggressive outbursts.
- Never try to take physical control of the person with dementia or to use force, no matter how aggressive your loved one’s behavior becomes.
- If you can, avoid the circumstances that trigger anger and aggression.
- If you can determine the cause of your loved one’s distress, try to solve or minimize the issue.
- When talking to a person with dementia, always use a calm tone of voice.
- Try to keep your feelings of distress, upset, or anger under control.
- If possible, find someone to take over and remove yourself from the situation and give yourself and the person with dementia time to calm down. However, never leave the person unattended.
- Be reassuring and supportive.
- Don’t reason or argue with the person. Show understanding and love instead.
Remember that your loved one’s anger and aggressive behavior stem from confusion, insecurity, discomfort, and pain. Many family members and caregivers try do discipline the persons with dementia for their angry outbursts. This is a mistake that you should by all means avoid. Keep in mind that your loved one struggles with a loss of control over the basic life functions and activities.
Your empathy, support, and love cannot take the symptoms of dementia away but can make the life of your loved one much more pleasant. If you are concerned about your loved one’s mood or aggressive behavior, don’t hesitate to contact their health care provider.