Coping with Alzheimers Aggression

A number of studies have been conducted concerning Alzheimers & aggression or aggressive behavior.  Pharmaceuticals are typically used to reduce aggressive behaviors, but some studies indicate that non-pharmacological intervention is effective as well.

The benefits of “multi-sensory stimulation” have been examined extensively in a wide range of behavioral and emotional problems.  Workshops have been conducted and an association of multi sensory environments was formed recently in the United States.

The idea behind this form of non-drug, non-invasive treatment, is simply to provide an environment in which a person may respond to things going on in their surroundings.  In a recent study, published in the “American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementia”, it was shown that the use of multi-sensory stimulation reduced the number of documented disruptive behaviors in Alzheimer’s patients living in a long-term care facility. 

The behaviors examined included pacing, exit-seeking, aggressive talking, yelling and hitting.  At the conclusion of the study, researchers suggested that, where feasible, multi-sensory stimulation environments should be considered, prior to the use of drug treatments, primarily because of the unwanted side effects that the drugs cause, but also because their effectiveness varies.

If you are concerned about Alzheimers & aggression, you probably have a loved one that suffers from the condition.  The “mean” behavior can be frustrating and upsetting to deal with.  The best suggestion for caregivers is to take some time off.

Hire a part-time nurse, if you can afford one.  If not, see if you have family members that can assist in your loved one’s care.  If no family members are willing to help, contact the Alzheimer’s support group in your area.  Just talking to other caregivers is often reassuring.

Remember to take care of your own health.  Try to get some regular physical activity, every day and eat right.  Talk to your doctor about other ways to protect your health. 

Alzheimers & aggression does not necessarily go hand in hand.  Only about half of patients with the disease exhibit aggressive behavior.  Men are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior, particularly during the middle to late stages of the disease. 

Remember that it is the degradation of different parts of the brain that caused the behavior.  In other words, blame the disease, not the person. 

Research and observation have shown that the behavior is typically triggered from some outside stressor, whether it is fatigue, flashing lights or an unexpected visitor.  It’s not possible to control the environment completely, but when you are dealing with Alzheimers & aggression, remember that sameness or routine is one of the keys to minimizing stress.

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