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Why Do Dementia Patients Experience Anger?

Having a loved one navigate the ups and downs of dementia can be heartbreaking.

Having a loved one navigate the ups and downs of dementia can be heartbreaking. It can be new and unknown territory for both you and your loved one, so it’s natural to want to equip yourself with knowledge about the struggle ahead. We have provided some information below on what dementia patients experience to give a better understanding of what to expect and how to help.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia isn’t a specific disease, but rather a term used when a person suffers from memory loss that interferes with activities on a day-to-day basis. Dementia occurs when there has been damage to the brain cells that interrupts the ability of those cells to communicate normally. As such, although it’s most common in the elderly, it can present itself in younger generations as well. Symptoms to watch for vary, and below is a list of some common ones:

  • Confusion
  • Lack of recognition of common things
  • Personality changes
  • Mental decline
  • Lack of restraint
  • Making things up
  • Nervous
  • Anxious
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Falling
  • Memory loss
  • Sleeping Problems
  • Trouble combining muscle movements
  • Inability to understand language or speak
  • Getting lost or wandering

What Causes Dementia?

Dementia can affect different areas of the brain, but simply put, it is the damage or loss of nerve cells. When the cells in the brain are no longer connecting and sending messages properly, the patient struggles to function as they used to. Because the brain can be damaged in different areas, each patient will present with different symptoms, sometimes making it difficult to diagnose in the early stages of dementia.

What Causes Anger in Dementia Patients?

Some leading causes of anger from patients with dementia are confusion and frustration due to the symptoms they battle. Dementia patients can experience symptoms where they have difficulty communicating with others or difficulty remembering or are struggling physically to complete what used to be easy tasks. This frustration with the loss of ability can lead to angry outbursts. Symptoms causing confusion can be frightening and lead to feeling overwhelmed or lonely, subsequently leading to outbursts of anger.

How to Help

It’s hard to see a loved one suffering from dementia and can leave you feeling as helpless as they do. But here are some tools that can help soothe dementia patients when they are upset:

  • Triggers—Identifying the immediate cause of the outburst can help you figure out how to help. Have they been hurt? Are they frustrated with something? Confused? Has something scared them or caused them to feel overwhelmed?
  • Understand their feelings—Understand the patient’s emotions and why they feel a certain way. Look for the emotions they are feeling behind their words or actions.
  • Stay calm—Help them see there is no danger by staying positive and reassuring them. Be gentle and speak calmly.
  • Limit distractions—Make sure they are physically in a calm place where they’re not being over-stimulated.
  • Distractions—Try a different activity. If something they were previously doing triggered them, trying something more calming or just different may help.
  • Ensure safety—If the patient is unable to calm down, you may need help from someone who has training and experience.
  • Take a break—If the patient is safe and you need to take a break, take a moment for yourself. Being able to stay calm is better for the patient and you.

Our memory care caregivers at Solterra Senior Living are a compassionate and highly qualified team. We are trained to understand the emotions and physical difficulties dementia patients experience, along with the importance of using validating techniques to help our residents feel comfortable and cared for. To meet our team or for any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call.