Among the many challenges of caring for older adults with Alzheimer’s, agitation and aggression are very difficult to manage.
Shouts, accusations, and sometimes even physical attacks are reactions you must learn to manage daily through trials and attempts. But this article provides some pointers to help you deal with the agitation and aggression of older Alzheimer’s patients.
Sometimes, the tendency to get angry about small things is due to the disease’s effect on the brain. As Alzheimer’s progresses, it accentuates some aspects of the sick person’s character or even makes new ones emerge.
However, very often, the aggressiveness of older adults with Alzheimer’s is because their confusion agitates them so much that they lose control. The degeneration of critical abilities, inability to express emotions and feelings, difficulty relating to other individuals, noises, confusion, feelings of hunger, cold or heat, sleep or pain due to illness are all other factors that can cause this aggressive behavior.
In dealing with them, remember that violence, verbal or physical, is never an option. There are good practices that, if implemented, can help manage the aggression of aged Alzheimer’s patients in everyday life.
In the following, we’ll help you understand the stages of Alzheimer’s disease and the methods to calm agitation and aggression in old patients living with the disease in different stages.
Stages of Alzheimer’s
The disease progresses differently depending on the patient’s symptoms and the individual. Alzheimer’s disease has three stages: mild, moderate, and severe.
The mild stage of Alzheimer’s
This stage is frequently seen as the beginning of the disease. The symptoms at this stage are commonly linked to natural aging because the individual can still operate independently. People living with Alzheimer’s mild disease often develop cognitive problems such as;
- Mild memory loss, such as forgetting where they put their reading glasses or having trouble finding the proper words
- Losing focus at work
- Wandering around and probably getting lost
- Difficulty in handling objects
The moderate stage of Alzheimer’s
The disease has advanced in this stage. The following symptoms often characterize this stage;
- Memory loss
- Trouble carrying out daily tasks
- Communication gets more difficult at this point since the brain damage has progressed.
- Lost track of thoughts, making it difficult for them to follow conversations and comprehend what other people say.
- Changes in attitude and behavior.
- Increased aggression
- Lack of sleep
- Repetition of behaviors
The last stage of Alzheimer’s
This is usually the severe stage, the brain has shrunk extensively, and it is generally characterized by the following:
- Total dependence on the caregiver
- Inability to communicate
- Not being able to get out of bed often or most of the time
How to deal with the agitation and aggression of older Alzheimer’s patients
Because the symptoms of each stage of Alzheimer’s disease vary, there is a specific way that doctors and caregivers will relate to each stage.
The aggressiveness of the patients is essentially nonexistent in the early phases of the illness; therefore, it is not yet an issue. The patient needs a few reminders of items around them because they can still function independently.
In the second stage of Alzheimer’s, the patient loses independence and desperately requires their caregiver. At this point, the patient needs all the help they can receive with daily tasks like bathing and getting dressed, and the level of their aggressiveness and agitation has increased. You can use the following methods to calm them down.
- Music calms agitation through soothing effects.
The soothing effects of music make it the most effective method for managing anxiety in older people with Alzheimer’s. The process is believed to reduce agitation by releasing repressed feelings.
- Aromatherapy; The use of pleasant smells
Placing pleasant scents in the environment and room of an individual with Alzheimer’s dementia also helps calm them down. Lovely scents such as lavender help improve sleep and reduce hallucinations in the patient.
- Physical touch
A gentle rub or pat on the back of the individual by the caregiver increases trust level and helps reduce aggression and agitation when triggered.
- Pet therapy
The presence of a pet in the environment of older adults with Alzheimer’s disease will allow them to engage in physical activity and give them something to concentrate on rather than being helpless. Thus reducing their aggressive mood and increasing their joy.
- A good first impression
Their first impression of the caregivers often shapes the behavior of older people with the disease. Caregivers must use a very calm and open approach to interact with them at the first meeting. Also, their facial expression should be pleasing as this can help soothe the patient from their agitation mood.
- Supportive care community
This is also a method of calming an older adult living with Alzheimer’s by placing the individual in a supportive community, reducing the trigger of challenging behavior. Several activities are carried out in these community care facilities that are designed to reduce aggressive behavior.
- Maintaining routines
One of the things that can trigger agitation and aggressiveness in an aged person having Alzheimer’s is the constant change of routines. As a caregiver, you must stick to a particular pattern of routine that will help the patient gain independence and be comfortable around you because they know what to do next. Changing routines will only cause anger, thereby triggering their agitations.
- Constant medical check-ups for other health issues
You need to constantly do health check-ups for your elderly loved one living with Alzheimer’s. With this, you’ll know if there’s an underlying health condition making them uncomfortable, causing them to be irritated and aggressive.
You can manage agitation and aggressiveness in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease. However, if the aggression becomes violent and unmanageable, it is necessary to consult a doctor. It is even advisable in all cases to seek the advice of an expert.