Increases in anger and aggression are often associated with dementia. People who have never shown a trace of aggression before can exhibit challenging behaviour and become physically violent and verbally abusive. I am of course, no scientist or learned specialist, but it seems to me that there may be several triggers for this behaviour.
Dementia certainly sometimes produces an overflow of emotion – I experience it myself from time to time. For me, it is a feeling of unbearable emotional pressure and sadness building inside of me. I have learned to recognise it, and I can usually let my partner Pam know that I am “not well” and then take myself away and have a good cry until I am drained of the emotion. But how will I cope further down the line, when I lack the ability to communicate effectively or the cognitive capacity to understand what is happening? Will I shout and lash out? Will I be cruel and hurtful?
And what might be the triggers?
It may be that it is easier for those who have a history of aggressive behaviour to lapse into it in dementia. Perhaps frustration over something that is unable to be expressed could be the trigger – I’m uncomfortable. I can’t make my needs understood etc.
I think that it would be wise for a carer to investigate all possible causes before simply blaming deterioration due to dementia. Perhaps there IS something that can be done to ameliorate the situation?
There is some excellent advice and guidance about aggression and dementia on the Alzheimer’s Society website HERE.