Your elderly mother has Alzheimer’s, so recently you moved her into your home so that she could remain independent and comfortable for the time being. But mom sometimes acts out suddenly and aggressively, and those outbursts usually include cursing, insults and screaming. Although you realize that mom isn’t acting out on purpose, you are worried that her aggression will eventually become physical. Fortunately, it is possible to more effectively prevent and manage outbursts from seniors with Alzheimer’s by taking these steps.
Triggers for Alzheimer’s Aggression
An Alzheimer’s outburst can flare up with little or no advanced warning. However, WebMD points out that there are certain triggers that can cause Alzheimer’s aggression, like:
- Environmental. These include excessive clutter, loud noises or too much activity.
- Discomfort. Medication side effects, not enough sleep, or pain that can’t be verbalized are all discomfort-related triggers.
- Confusion. Someone with Alzheimer’s can get agitated when they’re asked too many questions at once, you are trying to explain complex instructions to them, or they are feeling confined while you’re trying to assist them.
How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Outbursts
Behavioral specialists have identified these reliable ways for family caregivers to minimize the frequency and intensity of their loved one’s Alzheimer’s outbursts:
Based on experience, identify ahead of time which triggers affect your senior. Then, try to eliminate as many of those as possible based on whether they are related to their surroundings, confusion or discomfort. For example, before giving mom her meds shut the door, turn down the TV volume and close the curtains.
Always use a calm and reassuring voice when speaking to your senior. Look them gently in the eyes and patiently listen to what they are telling you no matter how strange it sounds. Most Alzheimer’s patients see the world differently than you do, so arguing with them will just elevate their agitated state.
Eliminate Environmental Triggers
Go around the house and eliminate environmental triggers that could cause outbursts. If there are children in the home sit down and explain in age-appropriate terms why they need to be quiet around their grandparent. Eliminate clutter and any potential trip hazards like throw rugs, furniture or electrical cords. And, always keep the noise level as low as possible. Small sharp objects can also be used as weapons during an aggressive episode, so make sure those are hidden away.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses remembering the simplest daily tasks, like teeth brushing or getting dressed, can be nearly impossible for your loved one. Post sticky notes around the house as frustration-reducing reminders.
Keep It Simple
Avoid asking too many questions at the same time or giving instructions that are overly complicated. That will reduce the likeliho