Three Strategies to Help Deal with Anger in Alzheimer’s
As a family caregiver, you are going to be challenged in various ways. One of these ways is responding to negative emotions from your aging loved one. If your loved one has a degenerative neurological disorder, like Alzheimer’s, then a common symptom they may experience is anger and frustration. There are many reasons why your loved one might feel angry or frustrated, and a lot of these negative emotions can often be exacerbated by your loved one’s inability to communicate their frustration. For example, your loved one may be feeling physical discomfort because they are tired or hungry. They may also be frustrated because their surrounding environment is too loud, distracting, or uncomfortable.
Degenerative neurological disorders often lead to language declines in those living with the disorder. Thus, it may be difficult for your loved one to tell you that they are frustrated. You are then tasked with paying closer attention to them and their surroundings to help prevent negative behaviors, but sometimes this can be challenging and finding a way to respond can be tricky. So, what can you do?
Follow These Tips
Practice Active Listening and Pay Attention: One of the best things you can do is listen to your loved one. Listening is not restricted to paying attention only to what they are saying. Active listening also involves paying attention to body language, patterns of behavior, and tone of voice. This practice will give you better information on how to respond and mitigate anger and other negative behaviors in the future. For example, if your loved one reacts negatively every time they are in a certain room, then this pattern suggests something in the room may be affecting your loved one.
Do Not Respond with Frustration: One of the biggest mistakes to make is feeling frustration and anger back at your loved one. This can only make the problem worse because they will likely pick up on your negative emotions, too. Instead, respond to them calmly and speak in soft voice. Do not use a patronizing voice, but just speak regularly. This will help maintain a calmer environment.
Distract and Redirect: In order to respond to immediate anger and frustration, distract your loved one and redirect their attention to something else. For example, if your loved one is expressing negative emotions, one thing you can do is ask them if they want some water or something to eat. Then redirect their attention to something, like a scrapbook, photo album, or the TV. Then bring them some water or a treat, and perhaps they will have calmed down. This is not a foolproof strategy, but it can be an effective one at times.
Dealing with anger and negative behaviors as a family caregiver can be challenging. You do not have to do this all by yourself. Call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website for more help!