What to Do When Alzheimer’s Patients Become Violent?
It is an entirely different story to have a person become violent because of a disease. You cannot blame the patient because it is really not their fault. This is the effect that Alzheimer’s has on its patients. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative condition that causes patients to become violent especially in the later stages of the disease.
The violence may be a result of a person feeling frustrated. Alzheimer’s causes dementia and as it progresses, the brain becomes extensively damaged to a point where the patients lose their basic bodily functions like walking and swallowing. This may be a reason for the patient to become violent. It is common to find Alzheimer’s patients who hurl abuses, curse, kick, bite, spit or slap. For a person who doesn’t know that the patient has Alzheimer’s, you may pass it for abuse but it is not.
Alzheimer’s patients eventually lose recognition of what they knew before and they no longer know how to use objects that were familiar to them. It is understandable why they become frustrated, confused and frightened. These feelings may be projected outwards through violent behavior.
How to respond when a patient becomes violent…
An Alzheimer’s patient can turn violent and aggressive without warning. In such a situation, you need to get yourself out of harm’s way. You will also need to get any dangerous objects like knives, glasses and such so that the person does not injure himself or herself.
Look For The Underlying Factor
Once you have established your safety and that of the patient, you should then look at what could have triggered such violent behavior.
It is important that you try and understand what may have led the patient to suddenly become violent. Violent outbursts may be caused by:
- Physical discomfort
- Changes in medication
- Lack of enough sleep
- Environmental factors like loud noise
When you are able to identify the triggers, try and reduce them. Understanding the stressors will also help you avoid any future incidences of violent outbursts.
These tips will help you prevent future outbursts:
- Think ahead of time about any situations that may make the patient uncomfortable or confused
- Don’t overwhelm them with too many questions at once or give instructions that are too complex. Don’t criticize them.
- Limit the amount of loud noises and activity around the patient
Calm Them Down
After dealing with what the stressor might have been, calm the patient down with either their favorite treat or music. Talk to them and get them to relax. Try and help them focus on their distant memories since Alzheimer’s affects their recent memories.
Draw The Line
As the disease progresses, their memory worsens and they can become more aggressive. This can take an emotional toll on you. So as you take care of them, you need to take care of yourself as well. Address your behavioral health needs. You can reach out to agencies that can help you address specific needs and circumstances.
Even when Alzheimer’s patients become violent, remember not to blame them or punish them. Have a sympathetic demeanor towards them because they really did not choose to become violent.