A person with dementia can be subject to mood swings, including anger and aggression. It’s stressful and upsetting for the person and their carer. Here’s why it can happen and what you can do to cope…

 

We often tend to think of dementia as an elderly person’s disease. This isn’t always the case, however. Dementia can happen to people of any age, and it can be extremely difficult to deal with. One of the most difficult aspects of dementia is aggression. When a person with dementia becomes aggressive, it can be very scary for both them and the people around them.

What causes aggression in dementia?

There are many different factors that can contribute to aggression in dementia. One of the most common is frustration. When a person with dementia feels like they can’t communicate their needs, it can lead to frustration and then aggression.

Another common cause of aggression is pain. If a person with dementia is in pain, they may become aggressive as a way of trying to get the pain to stop. Unfortunately, they may not be able to let you know they’re in pain. Finally, changes in the brain can also lead to aggression. As the brain deteriorates, it can cause problems with impulse control and decision-making, leading to aggressive behaviour.

How can you deal with aggression?

If you are dealing with an aggressive person with dementia, there are some things you can do to try to calm them down. First, try to understand what is causing the aggression. If it is frustration, see if there is anything you can do to help the person communicate their needs. If it is pain, see if there is anything you can do to help relieve the pain. If the cause of the aggression is unclear, try distracting the person with something that they enjoy, such as music or a toy. Finally, if nothing seems to be working, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a professional carer or doctor.

Bored or restless

When I was caring for my late mum, who had vascular dementia, she would become aggressive if she felt she wasn’t being listened to or if she was bored or restless. A walk during the day would sometimes help and result in an improved mood.

Dealing with an aggressive person with dementia can be very difficult. It’s important to try to understand what is causing the aggression to deal with it effectively. If you’re struggling to calm an aggressive person with dementia, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a professional carer or doctor.

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