Of the many challenging behaviors that may arise in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps the most daunting is physical violence. Even a formerly mild-mannered senior can be at risk of aggressive outbursts, especially in the advanced stages of the disease, as a result of an array of factors: a lack of self-control and inhibition, emotional distress, physical pain or discomfort. When unable to communicate effectively, the older person might have no alternative but to turn to violence to express his or her needs.
When in the midst of a violent outburst, keep the following in mind:
- Ensure you are calm – and safe. As challenging as it is to keep your cool when up against another person who is hitting, biting, scratching, or throwing objects, yelling or losing your patience will only intensify the senior’s behaviors. Stand back to ensure your protection, take a deep breath, and count to 10 prior to responding.
- Evaluate what is causing the outburst. It’s important to try to discover what induced the violent behavior. Is the senior hungry? Too warm or cold? In need of a clean incontinence product? Has something transpired to lead to feelings of rage, humiliation, or frustration? Is the person in any physical pain?
- The ideal reaction is often distraction. Once you’ve concluded that the person’s primary needs are all met and hopefully were able to discover the root cause behind the behavior, restoring peace often can be achieved by a change in environment or activity. Turn on some favorite music, browse through a photo album, go outside for some fresh air and enjoy the birds, trees, flowers.
And as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Following a regular routine of meals, snacks, rest, and exercise is essential for those with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also beneficial to keep a diary to document what’s leading to the violent outbursts, the times of day they seem to be happening, and what has helped (or not helped).
Most importantly, however, is making sure that your own needs for self-care are met. Providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is exhausting, both mentally and physically. Working with a skilled respite care provider with expertise in providing the specialized home care seniors need, is the perfect remedy for both the older adult with Alzheimer’s and the family providing care.
At Morning Glory Home Care, an Alton memory care and dementia care provider for the surrounding areas, we provide family caregivers the opportunity to take much-needed time to relax and recharge with our professional, compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia care. You can reach us for a free in-home consultation to learn more at 618-667- 8400.