Aggression in Seniors – How to Cope

by francy Dickinson           

Dear Francy; My mother is abusing my dad. She has Alzheimer’s and she is getting so difficult that my father is showing bruises and will not speak on the subject. I am so worried-

You should be, this is a very sad and nasty side to many conditions that happen when seniors age. Strokes, dementia, emotional problems – they can all cause a senior to go into a state of frustration and this frustration simply builds into acting out. The acting out can be breaking dishes, cutting up clothes in closets, brandishing a knife, pounding the wall or floor with hands or head, throwing things, yelling without control, slapping to hitting or throwing objects at people, and the list goes on.

It is such a shocking thing to have someone you have loved and lived with for years, suddenly act out in a matter that is really combative and shows all of their pent up aggressions. What can the spouse or family do?

  • First you do not ignore the incident. You do not give them an excuse for hurting someone. You take note and get help. Your father has to get help or he or she will wind up really harmed by this behavior.
  • A doctor needs to be consulted. You can call your primary physician and ask who he recommends for this issue. If they are working with a neurologist or physiologist – call them and get an appointment.
  • The doctor will review the medications that are being used on the patient to see if any of them are causing outbreaks. They will either change the medications or add a medication that could help the person keep in a calm state. Now, I can hear you saying we do not want our mother drugged down. But remember, this is not a joke, people can and will get hurt if this continues on and the doctor will review all the information and prescribe with his best knowledge on the subject. So make sure you are sincere with the information given to him, do not exaggerate or diminish the incidents, be open and honest.
  • Emotionally, this can be a sign of different disorders and once again, they can be controlled with medications. But, the patient has to take the medications to make them work. You as a family have to decide how to make sure they do take their daily meds. I know many seniors that hide pills and then flush them. That is so unfair to the care givers, but it happens especially when a senior is not in their right state of mind. So, make note, that if you see behaviour that is not right and they are suppose to be on medications, double check the actual swallowing of the medication with the patient.
  • In most states non-relatedcare givers cannot place a pill or medication on(or in the mouth of) the patient. They can hand it to them, but not force them to take it. That rule is usually not in place for a family member. You can check with your doctor he would know the legal rules. You have to be very careful with your care giving because even though the patient is expressing aggression, they are protected from anyone else harming them. So know the rules and stick to them.
  • Once again, emotions are often out of whack after a stroke, during Alzheimer’s advanced state and with people who have emotional problems like bi polar mania, etc. So you have to know what is happening and make sure it has a diagnosis so you understand the issue with the senior patient. Then you have to set rules for all the family and care givers on what can be done to dissipate an aggressive outbreak.
  • If you can not seem to get this under control, then it is simply time to remove the senior from the residence or the retirement facility and get them into a speciality care center. When you do this, they have a full staff that handles this type of problem on a continual basis and they know how to keep the medications in perfect sync and how to talk, interact and control the patient from harming their own body as well as others.
  • Trying to pretend that nothing is wrong is not just harmful to your dad…but your mother. She can go off the end and actually hurt your dad or take her own life and then where would your family be? This is a problem that is sad, embarrassing and no one wants to talk about. But you have to talk about it. You have to say, I can not handle this problem. It has become to big for me. I need help.

One of the main issues of being a care giver…is to give care. Care is not ignoring a problem. It’s bringing out the problem and finding answers for it. There are many trained professionals ready to help you with ideas of how to stem the frustration, medicate the person to be calmer, and make sure they are under a routine that promotes calm. Like rest, naps, good and timely nutrition, proper medication given on the dot each day and exercise that takes away the build up of negative energy.

Try to think of a young child that has not gone out in the back yard or recess to play…remember how difficult they can get? Think of a dog that that has not been exercised and how their aggression can cause them to chew on furniture or urinate in the house. This of yourself when you have gone to long without food or a good rest, your energy is low and you have a short fuse, too. Those are keys to why exercise as well as a full care schedule is also important for the senior with aggression problems. Once again, unless you’re there with her 24/7 you can not insure that your mother is getting all of these steps to keep her in a state of calm. That’s why a facility or speciality care can give her help.

It is amazing how any size of person at any age can be overwhelming to their care giver if there is high frustrated energy coming at you. Danger is not part of the care giving process. Remove it. Seek help from doctors, counselors and professionals. Then the care giver can do what they do best, they can relax and just give care. They can go to the care facility and give that extra care that makes quality so high. They can know that they can sleep without interruption or worry. They can remove the guilt and embarrassment of the situation and make it a challenge that the medical and family can rally around and solve.

I am very sorry, your Dad and you are going through this problem. How sad for all of you and your mother has to face such issues in her later years. But I know you can work through this with your dad. Just be the person that insists on talking – and maybe even show him this letter…so he knows we all appreciate his love, but he has to take steps that are bigger than his own giving care.

Please go to my website and get more information on this and many other care support and senior issues On the site under Products you will find my Care-Givers Workbook 101 is filled with helpful step by step procedures that can help anyone that is giving care to another. As a spouse of an Alzheimer’s patient, I understand that sadness and feeling of loneliness that creep into your life as you try so hard to deal with the daily challenges of this disease – keep strong.

Please go and enjoy the rest of the Alzheimer blogs on my Dear Francy blogs and visit my website www.seniorcarewithspirit.comto get more information. Don’t forget, when you get to the stage that you need  care facility help for your loved one, please contact me and let me help you through that process with our Loving MemoriesSenior Care Facility Placement Service that is FREE for you to use.

 Thank you, francy

One thought on “Aggression in Seniors – How to Cope

  1. All this stuff is so true. I remember the first time my dad got really agitated and shoved my mom. I didn’t know what to do because his anger wasn’t logical, I didn’t know how to talk him down, or de-escalate the situation. The doctor was able to increase his seroquel, but I understand how scary the situation can be.

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