Sometimes, having a loved one struggle with Alzheimer’s almost feels as though you’ve already lost them a long time ago. Among Alzheimer’s patients, Alzheimer’s aggression is fairly common. Every year, 4.5 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and this is expected to explode to 16 million Americans in 2050.
Most people believe that Alzheimer’s only has an effect on our memory, but there are many other neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with the disease as well. Patients who have Alzheimer’s sometimes develop delusions; patients may become irritable, and sometimes very aggressive. This often leads to unnecessary anxiety, because the family members sometimes believe that Alzheimer’s aggression is aimed at them.
What is behind the behavior?
Unfortunately, no one is quite sure why some Alzheimer’s patients become aggressive and others do not. However, a study out of the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center revealed that the strongest predictor was recognition. The most common cause of aggressive behavior was forgetting what was inside something or what something was.
Other studies reveal that sometimes the aggression can be attributed to side effects from certain anti-anxiety medications such as BuSpar® (buspirone), Ativan® (lorazepam), and Xanax® (alprazolam). These side effects may include nausea, constipation, and headaches.
Managing difficult behavior
The first step in managing difficult behavior for patients with Alzheimer’s is finding out where the aggression is coming from. Is the person scared? Thirsty? Hungry? Does that explain their combativeness or agitation?
Sometimes, the agitation that patients experience is because they are frustrated with themselves. Their memories are slowly fading away and things that they used to take for granted become an ordeal. They might forget what time their dinner appointment is or forget where they put the keys.
The fact is that there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The only thing that you are able to offer your loved one is a chance at managing the disease and making sure that things are kept as simple as possible. The aggression, frustration, and misconceptions all make this a very difficult situation to handle for family members.
If you believe that your loved one is struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, it may be time to consider one of the many options at Carlton Senior Living. Your loved one will receive quality treatment through our memory care program designed specifically for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.