5 Reasons Your Parent with Dementia Becomes Angry

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People with progressive forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease or Lewy body dementia eventually reach a stage where they’re more likely to become uncharacteristically angry. This type of anger or aggression may come on suddenly as you provide care for a senior parent with dementia, but you might not understand why this happens. The Alzheimer Society of Canada notes there are several possible reasons for anger in seniors with dementia. Here are five possibilities.

1. Physical Pain

Your parent may be angry because he or she is in some type of physical pain. This is more likely to be the case if your loved one is no longer able to clearly verbalize discomfort. If you suspect this is the case, take the following actions:

• Check for sources of physical discomfort
• Look for obvious dental issues if your parent has dentures or known dental problems
• Schedule a physical exam with the doctor to confirm or rule out physical sources of pain

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elder care Vancouver, BC, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

2. Too Little/Too Much Sleep

If your parent has dementia and isn’t sleeping well, he or she may also be increasingly moody and susceptible to having angry outbursts. The same thing could happen if your parent sleeps too much. Minimize this issue by:

• Keeping your parent active during the day so he or she sleeps well at night
• Avoiding known stimulants like alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine
• Establishing a consistent sleep routine

3. Psychological Issues

Dementia-related outbursts are sometimes related to an inability to express feelings or emotions or confusion that causes reactions to misguided thinking. For instance, your parent may become angry if he or she feels disrespected. This might happen if you’re in the habit of finishing your loved one’s sentences or guessing what he or she wants. Psychological outbursts of anger may also be related to:

  • Misinterpretations of actions you take while providing care
  • Frustration if you’re providing too much assistance with various tasks
  • Confusion over changes in the immediate environment
  • Issues with confused reality—e.g., anger because you try and stop your parent from picking up his or her “kids” from school even though they’re now fully grown
  • Confusion caused by sensory overload—e.g., too many things going on at once in the environment

Possible solutions depend on the situation. For example, if your parent is feeling overcoddled, you may be able to minimize angry outbursts by allowing more of a chance to do some tasks independently until he or she asks for help.

Hiring a professional home caregiver is one way to help your loved one manage the challenges of dementia. If your aging loved one needs help managing everyday tasks or encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of homecare. Home Care Assistance provides professional in-home caregivers around the clock to help seniors live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

4. Loneliness, Boredom, or Depression

Your parent’s angry outbursts may be related to feelings of being ignored. He or she could also be bored with certain activities or depressed. Again, what you do will depend on the situation. With boredom, look for facial expressions and other nonverbal cues that suggest it’s time to switch activities or give your parent a break. Other options include planning more group activities or medication and therapeutic activities involving music or art to ward off depression.

5. No Clear Reason

There may be times when a clear reason for your parent’s angry outbursts can’t be determined. If this is the case, default to taking the following steps:

• Check to see if there’s a physical issue
• Don’t argue back
• Attempt to calm your loved one down with an enjoyable activity
• If possible, walk away and give your parent some time alone to calm down 

Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Vancouver families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care. Call one of our qualified and compassionate Care Managers today at (778) 279-3634 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.

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