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Tips to Manage Alzheimer’s Anger and Agitation

Anger and aggression are unfortunate side effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. The disease can limit the ability for the patient to effectively communicate needs and feelings so it manifests in angry outbursts or aggressive behavior. The key to managing these symptoms is to first understand it is not a personal attack. Here are a few other tips to help manage the situation.

Try to identify and alleviate any physical reasons for the anger or aggression. Is he in physical pain, for instance? Often Alzheimer’s patients are unable to articulate where and how they are hurting. Check for any sores or obvious signs of illness and consult a doctor if you suspect an infection or serious illness.

Can you rule out the physical environment or rather a change in environment as the root of the anger? Many Alzheimer’s patients respond negatively to loud noises, bright lights or lots of people coming into their personal space. Many times breaks in routine can cause them to be upset.

Create a calm environment. That begins with maintaining your own calm. Responding to outbursts or inappropriate behavior in kind will only make the situation worse. If you find yourself losing your cool, take a few minutes to calm down so that you can respond to the emotion behind the behavior rather than the behavior itself.

Find a stress-reducing activity for the patient. Whether it’s exercise –taking a walk or even dancing–cooking, working puzzles or playing with a pet, these activities can be useful diversion techniques when the patient starts to get agitated.

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