What to Do When A Person WIth Alzheimer’s Become Violent

Calming a Dementia Patient

It is an entirely different story to have a person become violent because of a disease. You cannot blame the patient because it is really not their fault. This is the effect that Alzheimer’s has on its patients. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative condition that causes patients to become violent, especially in the later stages of the disease.

The violence may be a result of a person feeling frustrated. Alzheimer’s causes dementia, and as it progresses, the brain becomes extensively damaged to the point where the patients lose their basic bodily functions like walking and swallowing. This may be a reason for the patient to become violent. It is common to find Alzheimer’s patients who hurl abuses, curse, kick, bite, spit or slap. For a person who doesn’t know that the patient has Alzheimer’s, you may pass it for abuse, but it is not.

Alzheimer’s patients eventually lose recognition of what they knew before, and they no longer know how to use objects that were familiar to them. It is understandable why they become frustrated, confused, and frightened. These feelings may be projected outwards through violent behavior.

How to respond when a patient becomes violent…

Establish Safety

An Alzheimer’s patient can turn violent and aggressive without warning. In such a situation, you must get yourself out of harm’s way. You will also need to get any dangerous objects like knives, glasses, and such so that the person does not injure himself or herself.

Look For The Underlying Factor

Once you have established your safety and that of the patient, you should look at what could have triggered such violent behavior.

It is important that you try and understand what may have led the patient to become violent suddenly. Violent outbursts may be caused by:

  • Physical discomfort
  • Changes in medication
  • Lack of enough sleep
  • Hunger
  • Frustration
  • Environmental factors like loud noise

When you are able to identify the triggers, try and reduce them. Understanding the stressors will also help you avoid any future incidences of violent outbursts.

These tips will help you prevent future outbursts:

  • Think ahead of time about any situations that may make the patient uncomfortable or confused
  • Don’t overwhelm them with too many questions at once or give instructions that are too complex. Don’t criticize them.
  • Limit the number of loud noises and activities around the patient

Calm Them Down

After dealing with what the stressor might have been, calm the patient down with either their favorite treat or music. Talk to them and get them to relax. Try and help them focus on their distant memories since Alzheimer’s affects their recent memories.

Draw The Line

As the disease progresses, their memory can worsen, and they may become more aggressive. This can take an emotional toll on you. So as you take care of them, you need to take care of yourself as well. Address your behavioral health needs.

Even when Alzheimer’s patients become violent, remember not to blame them or punish them. Have a sympathetic demeanor towards them because they really did not choose to become violent.



GloMay 15, 2020 at 7:57 amReply

I agree. My husband has vascular dementia from a stroke seven years ago. He becomes violent every morning when I try to change his wet clothes. We have been married almost 60 years and had a good relationship. Now every morning, he calls me names and hits me every time I try to get him up. I hate to see him just lie in bed and die so I keep trying and taking the abuse. I can’t get any help because I need a male person to help me. I can’t bring myself to put him in an institution.

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Aaron SinykinMay 25, 2020 at 7:20 amReply

Make sure it’s a quiet peaceful environment and you are not asking too many questions, approach him and talk in a calm voice. If he feels your frustration with the situation, it might only make things worse. We have trained male caregivers here at Devoted Guardians. If you are in the Phoenix Valley in Arizona, let us know.

Stacey RichardsonAugust 15, 2022 at 8:57 pmReply

My dad has AlZ and is late stage. My mom is the primary caretaker. He started to get violent and I cannot have her in that environment. What are my options?

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