Caring for a parent who is showing uncharacteristic mood swings or angry outbursts can be difficult. Such problems may be due to memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related dementia. Dementia causes changes in memory, thinking and behavior and can make your elderly parent seem to be increasingly aggressive or angry. These changes can be stressful or even frightening for both the parent and the adult child.
It is important to remember that the behavior is probably related to the disease. The changing moods and aggression are not unusual and probably not personally directed at you. It is also important to remember that sudden behavior changes in a person with dementia may be caused by a physical problem such as dehydration or drug reaction and you should contact your parent’s doctor for an evaluation.
If the doctor checks find no physical or drug-related cause for the change in behavior, then perhaps your parent is experiencing fear or anxiety about something that’s going on in his or her life. Look for a pattern. Does the behavior occur when you are preparing to leave the house? Is it worse when a certain friend or family member visits? By understanding what is behind the behavior you can take steps to try and minimize the problem.
Approved Home Health offers these tips for dealing with behavior changes related to dementia:
- Try not to rationalize or argue. Accept your parent where they are with their level of dementia and keep responses simple.
- Be aware of your body language — your parent may sense if you look upset and stressed, and feel anxious, too.
- Try to keep a routine and schedule. This can help calm fears about the unknown or any changes in the day.
- Allow plenty of time when preparing to go out with your parent. Rushing will probably only increase their stress and anger.
- Try to redirect unsafe or undesirable behavior. For example, if your parent wants to walk out the front door at 11 p.m. because it’s time to go to work, try distracting him. Calmly offer to take him to work but first you have to find the umbrella because rain is predicted. Redirect the focus of attention.
As difficult as it may be to deal with aggression or mood changes related to dementia, there are ways that Approved Home Health can help care for your elderly parent. Call us today at 941-870-8740 for a complimentary nursing evaluation.