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Dementia and Anger

Dementia and Anger

Dementia is an impairment of brain function that can affect daily life and the ability to care for oneself. There are multiple behaviors that can accompany dementia depending on which functions of the brain are affected. While not every person who suffers from dementia will exhibit increased anger issues, it is quite common. The severity will vary widely from person to person, and the approach to treatment will need to be unique as well. 

Why are Dementia and Anger Related

Dementia can cause personality and behavior changes. Increased irritability and agitation could stem from feelings of anxiety and confusion associated with the disease. Imagine how frustrating it would feel to be surrounded by unfamiliar people and places. Not only do they feel confused and disoriented, but they have decreased emotional control as a symptom of dementia as well. 

How to Manage Anger

Typical anger management strategies might not be the right approach for someone who suffers from dementia. Here are some generic tips for handling anger in those with cognitive decline. Regardless of the circumstance, dealing with anger outbursts will require a great deal of patience from the caregiver. 

  • Establish a consistent and familiar routine to reduce confusion and anxiety.
  • Provide a calming environment and minimize triggers.
  • Use simple and clear communication techniques.
  • Offer reassurance and support during times of distress.
  • Identify and address any physical discomfort or health issues promptly.
  • Seek professional help, such as consulting with a healthcare provider or counselor with experience in dementia care.

Consistent environment and routine are typically the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing anger outbursts in the memory impaired. Disruptions or unfamiliar settings may provoke feelings of insecurity and agitation, potentially leading to anger. Many people with dementia thrive in a memory care facility once they adjust to a new environment because of all the structure. 

Caregiver Tips

Being a caregiver for someone with dementia is challenging. You can find out more about coping with this stage of life in this blog post. Communication, reassurance, and listening are all helpful skills for handling a loved one with dementia. Good communication and lots of reassurance can help prevent an anger outburst altogether. Listening can help you understand what may have led to the episode and build trust. As difficult as it may be, it is very important for the caregiver to remain calm and level-headed. It is your responsibility to be emotionally regulated when your loved one can’t be. Sometimes that means that you need to take breaks. Having someone else who can take over when you are feeling overwhelmed is a great way to make sure your needs are met and you are ready to be patient with your loved one. To review, these are some basic caregiver tips for loving someone with dementia and anger: 

  • Take breaks
  • Let others help you
  • Stay calm
  • Communicate
  • Listen
  • Reassure them 

If you don’t have any other family or support system nearby, you can seek the help of professionals in the capacity of short-term or hourly care. The Gables is happy to help in any role that would be the most helpful for you and your loved one. 

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