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5 Causes of the Combative Stage of Alzheimer’s

By , 9:00 am on

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, some seniors may exhibit aggressive or combative behavior. There are various reasons these mood changes develop. By implementing a few techniques, caregivers can often defuse these situations. Here are some things you should know about the combative stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Physical Causes

When the language center of the brain experiences damage, seniors have increasing difficulty finding the right words to express their concerns and needs. Out of frustration, they may act out by yelling, throwing objects, or becoming physically confrontational with a caregiver. Stay calm and speak to your aging loved one in a quiet voice. Sympathize while asking simple questions to determine the underlying cause for the behavior. Your loved one might be hungry, thirsty, or in pain, or he or she may need to use the bathroom. Realizing someone is listening and trying to help may be all that’s needed to bring your loved one a sense of calm.

The cognitive challenges that accompany Alzheimer’s often leave aging adults unable to manage everyday tasks, which puts their safety and health at risk. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of elder care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services.

2. Sundowner’s Syndrome

Alzheimer’s affects the way the brain processes visual stimuli. In the late afternoon, more shadows appear, which changes the way the environment appears and might cause hallucinations. It’s not unusual for seniors with Alzheimer’s to become combative during this time of day. Make sure the interior is well lit to diminish visual misperceptions. Speak to your loved one calmly and listen to his or her concerns. If no physical needs are pressing, use diversion by inviting your loved one to listen to music or enjoy a favorite snack with you.

3. Confusing Situations

When seniors with Alzheimer’s feel overwhelmed, they may become combative secondary to being confused. Circumstances that may trigger such behavior include too many people in the room or too much noise in the home. Assess the situation for causative factors. Keep noise and the number of visitors down to tolerable limits.

A new person coming into the home to provide care may trigger fear, suspicion, and subsequent anger. Gradually introduce your loved one to the new caregiver and let your parent get used to him or her while you stay close by to provide a comforting familiar presence.

Professional caregivers with specialized experience in Alzheimer’s care can be a wonderful source of support for older adults with the disease. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Philadelphia Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

4. Boredom

Seniors with Alzheimer’s may become bored if they believe they’re no longer capable of engaging in activities. Out of frustration and an inability to express themselves appropriately, they may become angry and act out. Plan daily activities that occupy your loved one’s attention while providing stimulation. Go for a walk around the block while enjoying the sounds of nature. Prepare meals together, create simple crafts, or allow your loved one to help with simple chores. Puzzles and basic games are also ideal for stimulation.

5. Lack of Choice

Regardless of your parent’s level of diminished cognitive capacity, you must always treat your loved one with dignity and respect. Seniors have the right to refuse assistance and choose clothing and meal options. Otherwise, they’re liable to become angry and frustrated, which may cause them to act out physically. As long as your loved one isn’t putting himself or herself in a dangerous situation, let him or her make choices. If your loved one becomes agitated, walk away and try again later. 

Symptoms such as agitation, confusion, anger, and frustration are common in elderly people with Alzheimer’s. The days, weeks, and months following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be challenging for both seniors and their families. However, these challenges can be made less stressful with the help of caregivers trained in professional Alzheimer’s care. Philadelphia Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one enjoy the golden years while simultaneously managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Call Home Care Assistance at (215) 645.4663 or (484) 643.4663 to learn more about our flexible and customizable senior care plans.

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