Nurse Jan Dougherty shares when an Alzheimer's patient will become violent.
Well we hope never, and the reality is that less than 10% of people with Alzheimer’s disease ever become aggressive, particularly if they are unprovoked. But please understand that this person you love so desperately is changing and they are frustrated because they are confronted with huge obstacles in everyday living.
They can’t remember, they can’t problem-solve, they are often having more difficulty trying to tell you what’s wrong or trying to understand themselves what is wrong and so yes, they have a lower threshold for maybe acting out, maybe verbally lashing out or pacing, doing something that in the past they would never have done and again, as caregivers, it’s important that you learn that behaviors often are forms of communication that something is wrong with this person and we need to learn what those cues are and better anticipate, “Gee, when they get in a large group, I notice that they are rude. Well what does that teach you?” Perhaps the group is just too much stimuli, they can’t sort out the conversations and they become rude simply because they can’t say to the caregiver, “Please let’s leave. This is too much for me”.
So I think understanding that, we shouldn’t expect that a person would ever be violent, but that we can learn and anticipate what behaviors a person like that present with and how can we extinguish them before they happen.
About Nurse Dougherty, R.N., M.S.:
Registered Nurse Jan Dougherty is the director of family and community services at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and has a master’s degree in gerontological nursing.
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