According to the National Institute on Aging, as Alzheimer’s progresses, people dealing with the disease may become agitated or aggressive more often. Here’s a look at some reasons and how caregivers can help and cope.
Agitation means that a person is restless or worried. He or she doesn’t seem to be able to settle down. Agitation may cause pacing, sleeplessness, or aggression, which is when a person lashes out verbally or tries to hit or hurt someone.
Causes of Agitation and Aggression
Most of the time, agitation and aggression happen for a reason. When they happen, try to find the cause. If you deal with the causes, the behavior may stop. For example, the person may have:
- Pain, depression, or stress
- Too little rest or sleep
- Soiled underwear or diaper
- Sudden change in a well-known place, routine, or person
- A feeling of loss—for example, the person may miss the freedom to drive
- Too much noise or confusion or too many people in the room
- Being pushed by others to do something—for example, to bathe or to remember events or people—when Alzheimer’s has made the activity very hard or impossible
- Feeling lonely and not having enough contact with other people
- Interaction of medicines
Look for early signs of agitation or aggression. If you see the signs, you can deal with the cause before problem behaviors start. Try not to ignore the problem. Doing nothing can make things worse.
A doctor may be able to help. He or she can give the person a medical exam to find any problems that may cause agitation and aggression. Also, ask the doctor if medicine is needed to prevent or reduce agitation or aggression.
Read more on Tips for Coping with Agitation or Aggression.