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Determining the Causes and Managing Aggression in Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer’s aggression is quite common among people with Alzheimer’s disease. There is grabbing, cursing, throwing things, pushing, kicking, biting, making strange noises, screaming and scratching. Over four million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s each year and up to half of them can display these behaviors. Alzheimer’s aggression is one of the primary reasons the majority of people put their aging parents in nursing homes. Luckily, new coping methods and medications can help and home care services in Jersey Shore are widely available.

What is Behind the Behavior

Nobody knows why a number of people with Alzheimer’s lash out while others do not. However, a recent study revealed that recognition is the strongest predictor. Other research claimed that patients with Alzheimer’s sometimes act out due to side effect such as constipation, headaches and nausea from anxiety drugs like Xanax, BuSpar and Ativan. Those who cannot communicate will just express their discomfort from the symptoms by becoming combative and more agitated.

The first step to managing tough behaviors in the care for people with Alzheimer’s is determining where it is coming from and its indication. Does the combativeness or agitation mean the person is scared or thirsty or hungry? It is a reaction to something uncomfortable or threatening in his environment?

Managing and Treating the Aggression

The use of medications to manage aggressive behaviors in patients with dementia is quite controversial. Physicians have tried using conventional antipsychotic medicines; however, they present limited effectiveness and come with some unpleasant side effects like nausea and vomiting. But drugs are not the only solution. There are other methods to enhance the situation. Here are some techniques which can help people care for patients with Alzheimer’s and manage their aggression.

Label and Use Signs

Put signs on rooms so that you can say what they are for. Place name tags on guests if they visit and place labels on common items such as telephones and clocks. Consider taping explanatory phrases on cupboards or doors in order to tell the patient what is inside.

Know the Common Triggers

After identifying the situations which cause upset, work toward achieving gentle transition. For instance, when your loved one does like to leave the house, take the process step by step. Bringing present activities to a natural close, putting on a coat and shoes, standing up and other activities can be introduced in sequence while using small talk to distract the patient.

Validate His Feelings

Attentive Care, Inc. suggests telling your loved one that it is fine to be frustrated, lonely or sad.

Use Reassuring Touches and a Gentle Tone

Research has proven this works. Look gentle and kind, and always smile. Your face is a significant signal that everything is fine.

Stick a Routine

This can be helpful in reducing the number of stressful and unexpected events.

Ignore the Angry Behavior

In case support and distraction don’t work and the situation is threatening, ensure your loved one will not harm himself and avoid him until he has calmed down.

Keep a Sense of Humor

Expect that there will be ups and downs. It is important to maintain compassion, patience and a sense of humor to cope more effectively with a tough behavior. Always keep in mind that it is the disease, not your loved one, causing such behavior.

Consider Music

Sometimes, somebody can calm down right away when he hears his favorite song. According to the American Academy of Neurology, using music can minimize a lot of problem behaviors. For them, music is most effective during bath or meal time.

Assess Constantly

You should know how to debrief after an incident and determine the cause. Realize what you can do differently the next time in order to avoid the aggressive reaction. Also, it is important to learn to resolve your emotional reaction and move forward effectively.

Seek Support

Look for support groups and counselors who can help you cope. Apart from helping yourself with the tough times, a number of those you meet are likely to have useful advice to manage aggression effectively.