Of the countless troublesome behaviors that tend to develop in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps the most difficult is physical violence. Even a previously calm senior can be at risk of physical displays of aggression, especially in the more advanced stages of the disease, caused by several of factors: reduced self-control and inhibition, psychological distress, physical pain or discomfort. When unable to communicate the right way, the person could have no alternate option but to resort to hostility to express his or her needs.
- Make sure you are calm – and safe. As difficult as it is to keep your cool when confronted by somebody who is hitting, biting, scratching, or throwing objects, yelling or losing your patience will only intensify the senior’s behaviors. Move back a few steps to ensure your safety, take a deep breath, and count to 10 prior to reacting.
- Identify what’s driving the outburst. It’s important to try to discover what sparked the violent behavior. Is the senior hungry? Too cold or hot? In need of a clean incontinence product? Has something transpired to set off feelings of anger, humiliation, or aggravation? Is the person in any physical pain?
- The best reaction is often distraction. Once you’ve established that the senior’s fundamental needs are all met and hopefully were able to identify the root cause behind the behavior, restoring peacefulness often can be accomplished through a change of environment or activity. Turn on some favorite songs, browse through a picture album, go outside for some fresh air and enjoy the flowers, trees, birds.
And as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Adhering to a scheduled routine of meals, snacks, rest, and exercise is essential for those with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also very helpful to keep a diary to document what’s triggering violent outbursts, the times of day they seem to be happening, and what has worked (or not worked).
Most importantly, however, is ensuring that your own needs for self-care are met. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is depleting, both emotionally and physically. Partnering with an expert respite care provider with expertise in providing the specialized home health Kansas City seniors need is the ideal resolution for both the older person with Alzheimer’s disease and the family members providing care.
At Enhanced Home Care, we provide family caregivers the opportunity to take much-needed time to relax and recharge with our professional, fully trained dementia care experts. Call us for a free in-home consultation to learn more at 913-327-0000.