One of the most challenging components of Alzheimer's care for the family and loved ones of these patients is the changes that come with dementia. There are many Alzheimer's patients who quickly start to lose some of their key personality traits and even more that begin to act like completely different people all together. This can be a heartbreaking transition for any family to deal with, but as a loved one to someone with Alzheimer's disease, it is important that you are prepared for some of these changes and equipped to handle them should you see them in person.
There are so many people today who think that Alzheimer's is simply a disease that impacts memory, but it can actually lead to some pretty serious behavioral changes as well. Most notably, many individuals have noticed that a number of patients with Alzheimer's disease start to show signs of unprovoked aggression.
While there is still little that can be done to stop these aggressive outbursts from happening, it is important to realize that they can and may happen, even if aggression is not something that is normally part of your loved one's personality. In fact, aggression is one of the main reasons that families feel they need to put their loved one in a nursing home or facility.
This misunderstood side effect is a big mystery in the Alzheimer's research community. Some feel as though it is frustration, while others think it is a side effect from the health issues, headaches or medications that many Alzheimer's patients are taking. Some patients may also feel overwhelmed by their inability to communicate with others and lash out in an aggressive manner. It is hard to know exactly when someone will lash out or get agitated enough to act aggressive, but there are ways to manage and treat this aggression among individuals with Alzheimer's.
Simple tactics such as labeling household objects so your loved one knows where things are and what things are can help prevent frustration. Using logic and reasoning in a gentle and reassuring tone can also help keep your loved one calm and focused and less likely to lash out in an aggressive manner. You should also try to stick to a regular routine to help minimize the number of stressful and unexpected events.
You should also start writing down the situations that ultimately lead to these outbursts. Look for the signs and triggers that cause aggression. Do they occur when your loved one forgets something, when you ignore them or when someone talks down to them? Make sure you are clear on what tends to trigger these responses and do your best to avoid them. When they do act in an angry behavior try your best to ignore it as long as the situation is non-threatening. If you coddle your loved one they may start to think that this behavior will get them the attention or the outcome that they want.
Above all things, it is best to try to keep a clear head when dealing with Alzheimer's aggression. It can be heartbreaking, but it is important to consistently remind yourself that this is the disease, not your loved one acting in the way and that you need to do what you can to make sure this side effect of the disease doesn't hurt your loved one.
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