Of the myriad of daunting behaviors that tend to manifest in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps the most perplexing is physical violence. Even a previously mild-mannered senior can be prone to outbursts, especially in the more advanced stages of the disease, caused by several of factors: decreased self-control and inhibition, mental distress, physical pain or discomfort. When no longer able to communicate appropriately, the individual may very well have no alternate option but to use combativeness to express his or her needs.
- Make sure you are calm – and safe. As difficult as it is to keep your cool when confronted by someone who is biting, hitting, scratching, or throwing objects, yelling back or losing your patience will only worsen the older person’s behaviors. Move back a few steps to ensure your protection, take a deep breath, and count to 10 prior to reacting.
- Determine what’s driving the outburst. It’s important to try to find out what sparked the violent behavior. Is the senior hungry? Too cold or hot? In need of a clean incontinence product? Has something happened to set off feelings of rage, humiliation, or annoyance? Is the senior in any physical pain?
- The ideal reaction is often distraction. Once you’ve established that the senior’s basic needs are all met and hopefully were able to find out the underlying cause driving the behavior, restoring peacefulness often can be accomplished through a change in location or activity. Turn on some favorite songs, browse through a photograph album, go outside for some fresh air and enjoy the birds, trees, flowers.
And as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sticking to a regular routine of meals, snacks, rest, and exercise is very important for those with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also insightful to keep a journal to document what’s causing violent outbursts, the times of day they seem to be occurring, and what has helped (or not helped).
Most importantly, however, is making certain your own needs for self-care are met. Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s is exhausting, both emotionally and physically. Partnering with an expert respite care provider with expertise in providing the specialized respite care Kansas City seniors need, is the ideal remedy for both the person with Alzheimer’s and the family members providing care.
At Hearts at Home In-Home Care, we provide family caregivers the chance to take much-needed time to relax and recharge with our highly skilled, experienced dementia care experts. Call us for a free in-home consultation to learn more at 913-440-4209.