Why Alzheimer’s hits women harder than men

Sex differences in dementia are only just being recognized – but the consequences could change the way we fight the disease.

By Laura Oliver12 July 2018

Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015, 75-year-old Brenda Whittle still enjoys jigsaws, sewing, and dancing. New activities are less appealing, but participating in Alzheimer’s research and drug trials is an exception. She’s so at ease with loud brain scans, she even falls asleep during them.

Brenda is one of more than 50 million people worldwide living with dementia – a catch-all category of diseases affecting memory and brain processing, including Alzheimer’s. That number is rising quickly. Globally, experts estimate that 75 million people will live with dementia by 2030 and 131.5 million by 2050.

Most are women.

You might also like these other stories in the Health Gap:
• The enduring mystery of migraines
• Why alcohol affects women more than men
• The health risks of maturing early 

In Australia, nearly two-thirds of all dementia-related deaths were women; in the US, two-thirds of those living with the disease are women, too. In some cases, dementia even outstrips more famously ‘female’ diseases: Uwomen over 60are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as breast cancer. (Breast cancer remains the leading cause of death for UK women aged 35 to 49).

In countries like England and Australia, dementia is the leading cause of death for women

In countries including England and Australia, dementia is the leading cause of death for women (Credit: Getty Images)

 

And in England and Wales as well as in Australiadementia has become the leading cause of death for women, knocking heart disease off the top spot.

“This can’t be sustained by any medical health system – it is too much in terms of numbers, says Antonella Santuccione-Chadha, a physician and Alzheimer’s specialist based in Switzerland. “And as women are more confronted by the disease, we need to investigate the differences between the male and female specifics of it.”

Much of the gender gap comes down to one of dementia’s biggest risk factors: age. The older you are, the more likely you are to develop late-onset Alzheimer’s. Women typically live longer than men, so more have dementia.

The older you are, the more likely to develop dementia

The older you are, the more likely to develop dementia (Credit: Getty Images)

But recent research hints that we would be wrong to assume that aging means Alzheimer’s is inevitable. Results from two major Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFAS) suggest that over the last 20 years, new dementia cases in the UK have dropped by 20% – driven mostly by a fall in incidence among men over 65 years old.

Over the past 20 years, new dementia cases in the UK have dropped by 20% – driven mostly by a fall in incidence among men over 65

Experts say this may be because of public health campaigns targeting heart disease and smoking. Both are risk factors for Alzheimer’s. But because men tend to get heart disease younger and smoke more than women, these campaigns also may have helped stave off these risk factors more for men than women.

Meanwhile, other risk factors for the disease affect women more than men. For example, more women develop depression – and depressed mood has been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s. Other risk factors affect only women, such as surgical menopause and pregnancy complications like pre-eclampsia, both of which have been linked to cognitive decline in later life.

Depression is one risk factor for developing dementia

Depression is one risk factor for developing dementia; it also affects more women than men (Credit: Getty Images)

 

Social roles, such as caregiving, also may increase the chance of developing dementia. Some research has shown that being a caregiver is, in itself, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, says Annemarie Schumacher, a health psychologist. In the UK, some 60-70% of all unpaid caregivers looking after someone with dementia, in particular, are women.

“Sex-specific prevention might start from having more of this information about female-specific risk factors,” says Maria Teresa Ferretti, a biomedical researcher in the field of Alzheimer’s disease at the University of Zurich.

This idea is gaining momentum. Advocacy group the Women’s Brain Project (WBP), co-founded by Santuccione-Chadha, Ferretti, and Schumacher as well as chemist Gautam Maitra, has just published a major review analyzing a decade’s worth of scientific literature on Alzheimer’s, revising existing data and asking scientists to stratify it by sex for the first time.

“The most obvious differences that come out of the literature are in the display and progression of cognitive and psychiatric symptoms between men and women with Alzheimer’s disease. Based on these new studies we can design new hypotheses and figure out new ways to improve treatment of patients,” says Ferretti.

Scientists hope sex-stratified research will help them develop more effective treatments

Scientists are hoping that new, sex-stratified research will help them develop more effective treatments for patients (Credit: Getty Images)

 

Currently, for example, Alzheimer’s is detected by looking for two toxic proteins that have accumulated in the brain. Evidence suggests no difference in the levels of these proteins, or ‘biomarkers’, in men and women with Alzheimer’s disease. But the women show a greater cognitive decline.

As a result, the biomarkers “might have a different predictive value in men and women,” says Ferretti: “We might need to adjust imaging, biochemical and neuropsychological biomarkers for men and women or find gender-specific biomarkers.”

Another question for researchers is why the disease progresses faster in women than men after diagnosis

Another question for researchers is why the disease progresses faster in women than men after diagnosis. One school of thought suggests that estrogen protects women’s brains when they’re younger, but that those benefits drop off, as does estrogen, after a certain age.

Other research suggests women perform better on the initial tests used, which can lead to missed diagnoses at an early stage and which may also lead doctors to underestimate the disease’s severity. If that is the case, diagnostic exams may need to be changed to reflect the neuropsychological differences between men and women.

Women may perform better on early tests for dementia than men

Women may perform better on early tests for dementia than men, meaning a delay in diagnosis (Credit: Getty Images)

 

Another challenge has been with how clinical trials for Alzheimer’s medications are designed. Expensive and long, they tend to have a near-even gender split, even though more women deal with the disease.

For other conditions, like depression and multiple sclerosis, “prevalence is often reflected,” Santuccione-Chadha says. “If more women are affected by those diseases, more women are usually included in the trials.” That approach seems to have worked: “in these disease areas, we have been witnessing successful drugs,” she says. Most clinical trials for medications for Alzheimer’s in the past decade, on the other hand, have failed.

Compared to other diseases, research on dementia also remains underfunded. Historically in the UK, 8p is spent on researching new dementia treatments for every £10 spent caring for those with the disease, according to research from Oxford University. By comparison, £1.08 goes to cancer.

Dementia research has been underfunded compared to other diseases

Historically, dementia research has been underfunded compared to other diseases, something advocates are hoping will change (Credit: Getty Images)

 

The funding discrepancy is repeated elsewhere: in 2017 in the US, data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests around $3.03bn (£2.29bn) was spent on research into Alzheimer’s and related diseases, while $9.87bn (£7.47bn) went to cancer research.

Funding for research is growing year-on-year helped by recent high-profile pledges, such as Bill Gates’ donation of $50 million (£38m). But “there is still ground to make up”, says Hilary Evans, CEO of Alzheimer’s Research UK. “We must see further significant funding drives to ensure we make the same advances for people with dementia that we’ve seen for cancer and heart disease in recent years.”

As for Brenda, she manages with the help of a GPS tracker – prompted after a trip on the wrong train – and with reminder notes stuck around the house by her husband Stephen. Both say they plan to continue to involve themselves in discussions and research.

The involvement of couples like Brenda and Stephen is essential. Research conducted with sex and gender at the forefront is already raising new possibilities for how we detect, treat and support the growing number of people living with the disease. Pinning down any differences could help solve one of the greatest medical mysteries of our time – a chance, experts agree, we’d be foolish not to take.

Source: BBC News

Source: Why Alzheimer’s hits women harder than men

Home Safety Checklist for Alzheimer’s Disease

Use the following room-by-room checklist to alert you to potential hazards and to record any changes you need to make to help keep a person with Alzheimer’s disease safe. You can buy products or gadgets necessary for home safety at stores carrying hardware, electronics, medical supplies, and children’s items.

Keep in mind that it may not be necessary to make all of the suggested changes. This article covers a wide range of safety concerns that may arise, and some modifications may never be needed. It is important, however, to re-evaluate home safety periodically as behavior and abilities change.

Throughout the Home

  • Display emergency numbers and your home address near all telephones.
  • Use an answering machine when you cannot answer phone calls, and set it to turn on after the fewest number of rings possible. A person with Alzheimer’s disease often may be unable to take messages or could become a victim of telephone exploitation. Turn ringers on low to avoid distraction and confusion. Put all portable and cell phones and equipment in a safe place so they will not be easily lost.
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in or near the kitchen and all sleeping areas. Check their functioning and batteries frequently.
  • Avoid the use of flammable and volatile compounds near gas appliances. Do not store these materials in an area where a gas pilot light is used.
  • Install secure locks on all outside doors and windows.
  • Install alarms that notify you when a door or window is opened.
  • Hide a spare house key outside in case the person with Alzheimer’s disease locks you out of the house.
  • Avoid the use of extension cords if possible by placing lamps and appliances close to electrical outlets. Tack extension cords to the baseboards of a room to avoid tripping.
  • Cover unused electrical outlets with childproof plugs.
  • Place red tape around floor vents, radiators, and other heating devices to deter the person with Alzheimer’s from standing on or touching them when hot.
  • Check all rooms for adequate lighting.
  • Place light switches at the top and the bottom of stairs.
  • Stairways should have at least one handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps. If possible, stairways should be carpeted or have safety grip strips. Put a gate across the stairs if the person has balance problems.
  • Keep all medications (prescription and over-the-counter) locked. Each bottle of prescription medicine should be clearly labeled with the person’s name, the name of the drug, drug strength, dosage frequency, and expiration date. Child-resistant caps are available if needed.
  • Keep all alcohol in a locked cabinet or out of reach of the person with Alzheimer’s. Drinking alcohol can increase confusion.
  • If the person with Alzheimer’s smokes, remove matches, lighters, ashtrays, cigarettes, and other means of smoking from view. This reduces fire hazards, and with these reminders out of sight, the person may forget the desire to smoke.
  • Avoid clutter, which can create confusion and danger. Throw out or recycle newspapers and magazines regularly. Keep all areas where people walk free of furniture.
  • Keep plastic bags out of reach. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may choke or suffocate.
  • Remove all guns and other weapons from the home or lock them up. Install safety locks on guns or remove ammunition and firing pins.
  • Lock all power tools and machinery in the garage, workroom, or basement.
  • Remove all poisonous plants from the home. Check with local nurseries or contact poison control (1-800-222-1222) for a list of poisonous plants.
  • Make sure all computer equipment and accessories, including electrical cords, are kept out of the way. If valuable documents or materials are stored on a home computer, protect the files with passwords and back up the files. Password protect access to the Internet and restrict the amount of online time without supervision. Consider monitoring computer use by the person with Alzheimer’s, and install software that screens for objectionable or offensive material on the Internet.
  • Keep fish tanks out of reach. The combination of glass, water, electrical pumps, and potentially poisonous aquatic life could be harmful to a curious person with Alzheimer’s disease.

Outside Approaches to the House

  • Keep steps sturdy and textured to prevent falls in wet or icy weather.
  • Mark the edges of steps with bright or reflective tape.
  • Consider installing a ramp with handrails as an alternative to the steps.
  • Eliminate uneven surfaces or walkways, hoses, and other objects that may cause a person to trip.
  • Restrict access to a swimming pool by fencing it with a locked gate, covering it, and closely supervising it when in use.
  • In the patio area, remove the fuel source and fire starters from any grills when not in use, and supervise use when the person with Alzheimer’s is present.
  • Place a small bench or table by the entry door to hold parcels while unlocking the door.
  • Make sure outside lighting is adequate. Light sensors that turn on lights automatically as you approach the house may be useful. They also may be used in other parts of the home.
  • Prune bushes and foliage well away from walkways and doorways.
  • Consider a “NO SOLICITING” sign for the front gate or door.

Entryway

  • Remove scatter rugs and throw rugs.
  • Use textured strips or nonskid wax on hardwood and tile floors to prevent slipping.

Kitchen

  • Install childproof door latches on storage cabinets and drawers designated for breakable or dangerous items. Lock away all household cleaning products, matches, knives, scissors, blades, small appliances, and anything valuable.
  • If prescription or nonprescription drugs are kept in the kitchen, store them in a locked cabinet.
  • Remove scatter rugs and foam pads from the floor.
  • Install safety knobs and an automatic shut-off switch on the stove.
  • Do not use or store flammable liquids in the kitchen. Lock them in the garage or in an outside storage unit.
  • Keep a night-light in the kitchen.
  • Remove or secure the family “junk drawer.” A person with Alzheimer’s may eat small items such as matches, hardware, erasers, plastics, etc.
  • Remove artificial fruits and vegetables or food-shaped kitchen magnets, which might appear to be edible.
  • Insert a drain trap in the kitchen sink to catch anything that may otherwise become lost or clog the plumbing.
  • Consider disconnecting the garbage disposal. People with Alzheimer’s may place objects or their own hands in the disposal.

Bedroom

  • Anticipate the reasons a person with Alzheimer’s disease might get out of bed, such as hunger, thirst, going to the bathroom, restlessness, and pain. Try to meet these needs by offering food and fluids and scheduling ample toileting.
  • Use a night-light.
  • Use a monitoring device (like those used for infants) to alert you to any sounds indicating a fall or other need for help. This also is an effective device for bathrooms.
  • Remove scatter rugs and throw rugs.
  • Remove portable space heaters. If you use portable fans, be sure that objects cannot be placed in the blades.
  • Be cautious when using electric mattress pads, electric blankets, electric sheets, and heating pads, all of which can cause burns and fires. Keep controls out of reach.
  • If the person with Alzheimer’s disease is at risk of falling out of bed, place mats next to the bed, as long as they do not create a greater risk of an accident.
  • Use transfer or mobility aids.
  • If you are considering using a hospital-type bed with rails and/or wheels, read the Food and Drug Administration’s safety information.

Bathroom

  • Do not leave a severely impaired person with Alzheimer’s alone in the bathroom.
  • Remove the lock from the bathroom door to prevent the person with Alzheimer’s from getting locked inside.
  • Place nonskid adhesive strips, decals, or mats in the tub and shower. If the bathroom is uncarpeted, consider placing these strips next to the tub, toilet, and sink.
  • Use washable wall-to-wall bathroom carpeting to prevent slipping on wet tile floors.
  • Use a raised toilet seat with handrails, or install grab bars beside the toilet.
  • Install grab bars in the tub/shower. A grab bar in contrasting color to the wall is easier to see.
  • Use a foam rubber faucet cover (often used for small children) in the tub to prevent serious injury should the person with Alzheimer’s fall.
  • Use a plastic shower stool and a hand-held shower head to make bathing easier.
  • In the shower, tub, and sink use a single faucet that mixes hot and cold water to avoid burns.
  • Set the water heater at 120°F to avoid scalding tap water.
  • Insert drain traps in sinks to catch small items that may be lost or flushed down the drain.
  • Store medications (prescription and nonprescription) in a locked cabinet. Check medication dates and dispose of outdated medications.
  • Remove cleaning products from under the sink, or lock them away.
  • Use a night-light.
  • Remove small electrical appliances from the bathroom. Cover electrical outlets.
  • If a man with Alzheimer’s disease uses an electric razor, have him use a mirror outside the bathroom to avoid water contact.

Living Room

  • Clear electrical cords from all areas where people walk.
  • Remove scatter rugs or throw rugs. Repair or replace any torn carpet.
  • Place decals at eye level on sliding glass doors, picture windows, or furniture with large glass panels to identify the glass pane.
  • Do not leave the person with Alzheimer’s disease alone with an open fire in the fireplace. Consider alternative heating sources.
  • Keep matches and cigarette lighters out of reach.
  • Keep the remote controls for the television, DVD player, and stereo system out of sight.

Laundry Room

  • Keep the door to the laundry room locked if possible.
  • Lock all laundry products in a cabinet. Laundry detergent pods can be fatal if eaten by accident.
  • Remove large knobs from the washer and dryer if the person with Alzheimer’s tampers with machinery.
  • Close and latch the doors and lids to the washer and dryer to prevent objects from being placed in the machines.

Garage/Shed/Basement

  • Lock access to all garages, sheds, and basements if possible.
  • Inside a garage or shed, keep all potentially dangerous items, such as tools, tackle, machines, and sporting equipment either locked away in cabinets or in appropriate boxes/cases.
  • Secure and lock all motor vehicles and keep them out of sight if possible. Consider covering vehicles, including bicycles, that are not frequently used. This may reduce the possibility that the person with Alzheimer’s will think about leaving.
  • Keep all toxic materials, such as paint, fertilizers, gasoline, or cleaning supplies, out of view. Either put them in a high, dry place or lock them in a cabinet.
  • If the person with Alzheimer’s is permitted in a garage, shed, or basement, preferably with supervision, make sure the area is well lit and that stairs have a handrail and are safe to walk up and down. Keep walkways clear of debris and clutter, and place overhanging items out of reach.

Source: Home Safety Checklist for Alzheimer’s Disease

Depression: Common medication side effect? – Harvard Health Blog

I am sharing an article from Harvard Health Blog, while this is only slightly and indirectly related to dementia, I still think it is relevant. First caregivers both family (unpaid) and paid (professional) are under so much stress, that their health or lack thereof becomes an issue. We often resort to or are prescribed many of the medications on this list. I am only saying be cautious and educate yourself on the side effects and warning signs.

Depression or suicidal are potential side effects of many medications and these side effects occur more often than previously believed.

Please clock on the link below to read the full article.

Source: Depression: Common medication side effect? – Harvard Health Blog

Tips for Coping with Sundowning

Tips for Coping with Sundowning

Late afternoon and early evening can be difficult for some people with Alzheimer’s disease. They may experience sundowning—restlessness, agitation, irritability, or confusion that can begin or worsen as daylight begins to fade—often just when tired caregivers need a break.Woman with Alzheimer's experiencing sundowning

Sundowning can continue into the night, making it hard for people with Alzheimer’s to fall asleep and stay in bed. As a result, they and their caregivers may have trouble getting enough sleep and functioning well during the day.

Possible Causes

The causes of sundowning are not well understood. One possibility is that Alzheimer’s-related brain changes can affect a person’s “biological clock,” leading to confused sleep-wake cycles. This may result in agitation and other sundowning behaviors.

Other possible causes of sundowning include:

Coping with Sundowning

Look for signs of sundowning in the late afternoon and early evening. These signs may include increased confusion or anxiety and behaviors such as pacing, wandering, or yelling. If you can, try to find the cause of the person’s behavior.

If the person with Alzheimer’s becomes agitated, listen calmly to his or her concerns and frustrations. Try to reassure the person that everything is OK and distract him or her from stressful or upsetting events.

You can also try these tips:

  • Reduce noise, clutter, or the number of people in the room.
  • Try to distract the person with a favorite snack, object, or activity. For example, offer a drink, suggest a simple task like folding towels, or turn on a familiar TV show (but not the news or other shows that might be upsetting).
  • Make the early evening a quiet time of day. You might play soothing music, read, or go for a walk. You could also have a family member or friend call during this time.
  • Close the curtains or blinds at dusk to minimize shadows and the confusion they may cause. Turn on lights to help minimize shadows.

Preventing Sundowning

Being too tired can increase late-afternoon and early-evening restlessness. Try to avoid this situation by helping the person:

Avoid things that seem to make sundowning worse:

  • Do not serve coffee, cola, or other drinks with caffeine late in the day.
  • Do not serve alcoholic drinks. They may add to confusion and anxiety.
  • Do not plan too many activities during the day. A full schedule can be tiring.

If Problems Persist

If sundowning continues to be a problem, seek medical advice. A medical exam may identify the cause of sundowning, such as pain, a sleep disorder or other illness, or a medication side effect.

If medication is prescribed to help the person relax and sleep better at night, be sure to find out about possible side effects. Some medications can increase the chances of dizziness, falls, and confusion. Doctors recommend using them only for short periods of time.

Source: Tips for Coping with Sundowning

Lifestyle Choices – Best Way to Fight Dementia

“Scientists are not absolutely sure what causes Alzheimer’s but plaques and tangles are prime suspects in cell death and tissue loss in the Alzheimer’s brain.” However, there are contributing factors that could cause it. 1 – diet, 2 – certain medications, 3 – poor sleep, 4 – excessive alcohol consumption, 5 – lack of physical activity, 6 – lack of mental activity. What can we do? 1 – Eat a heart-healthy diet, what is good for the heart is good for the brain. 2 – Understand the side effects of any medications you may take. Benadryl has been linked to dementia. Other medications that have a strong link to dementia, Benzodiazepines, Non-benzodiazepine prescription sedatives, Anticholinergics this is most over-the-counter sleeping aids, Antipsychotics, and mood-stabilizers. 3 – Always get plenty of restful sleep. 4 – Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. 5 – Stay active. 6 – Challenge your brain to try new things get out of the rut.

Alzheimer’s and Hallucinations, Delusions, and Paranoia

Alzheimer’s and Hallucinations, Delusions, and Paranoia

Due to complex changes occurring in the brain, people with Alzheimer’s disease may see or hear things that have no basis in reality.

 

  • Hallucinations involve hearing, seeing, smelling, or feeling things that are not really there. For example, a person with Alzheimer’s may see children playing in the living room when no children exist.
  • Delusions are false beliefs that the person thinks are real. For example, the person may think his or her spouse is in love with someone else.
  • Paranoia is a type of delusion in which a person may believe—without a good reason—that others are mean, lying, unfair, or “out to get me.” He or she may become suspicious, fearful, or jealous of people.

If a person with Alzheimer’s has ongoing disturbing hallucinations or delusions, seek medical help. An illness or medication may cause these behaviors. Medicines are available to treat these behaviors but must be used with caution. The following tips may also help you cope with these behaviors.

Hallucinations and Delusions

Here are some tips for coping with hallucinations and delusions:

  • Discuss with the doctor any illnesses the person with Alzheimer’s has and medicines he or she is taking. Sometimes an illness or medicine may cause hallucinations or delusions.
  • Try not to argue with the person about what he or she sees or hears. Comfort the person if he or she is afraid.
  • Distract the person. Sometimes moving to another room or going outside for a walk helps.
  • Turn off the TV when violent or upsetting programs are on. Someone with Alzheimer’s may think these events are happening in the room.
  • Make sure the person is safe and can’t reach anything that could be used to hurt anyone or himself or herself.

Paranoia

In a person with Alzheimer’s disease, paranoia often is linked to memory loss. It can become worse as memory loss gets worse. For example, the person may become paranoid if he or she forgets:

  • Where he or she put something. The person may believe that someone is taking his or her things.
  • That you are the person’s caregiver. Someone with Alzheimer’s might not trust you if he or she thinks you are a stranger.
  • People to whom the person has been introduced. He or she may believe that strangers will be harmful.
  • Directions you just gave. The person may think you are trying to trick him or her.

Paranoia may be the person’s way of expressing loss. The person may blame or accuse others because no other explanation seems to make sense.

Here are some tips for coping with paranoia:

  • Try not to react if the person blames you for something.
  • Don’t argue with the person.
  • Let the person know that he or she is safe.
  • Use gentle touching or hugging to show you care.
  • Explain to others that the person is acting this way because he or she has Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Search for things to distract the person, then talk about what you found. For example, talk about a photograph or keepsake.

Also, keep in mind that someone with Alzheimer’s disease may have a good reason for acting a certain way. He or she may not be paranoid. There are people who take advantage of weak and elderly people. Find out if someone is trying to abuse or steal from the person with Alzheimer’s. For more information, visit Elder Abuse.

Source: Alzheimer’s and Hallucinations, Delusions, and Paranoia

Instrumental Playlist

I thought that I would share another playlist this morning. This playlist is mostly instrumental pop and rock music from my wife earlier years. If you like music from the 60’s and 70’s you will recognize must of these tunes.

It makes for easy listening background music. I use it sometimes at bathtime, bedtime, and to just to sooth when I notice agitation coming on.

If you have an Amazon prime or an Amazon Music unlimited account I think you can download and play the playlist. Otherwise, I think you can view the list and get some ideas of your own.

 

Thanks, Clifton

 

 

Coping with Agitation and Aggression in Alzheimer’s Disease

Coping with Agitation and Aggression in Alzheimer’s Disease

People with Alzheimer’s disease may become agitated or aggressive as the disease gets worse. Agitation means that a person is restless or worried. He or she doesn’t seem to be able to settle down. Agitation may cause pacing, sleeplessness, or aggression, which is when a person lashes out verbally or tries to hit or hurt someone.Older man in a wheelchair with a nurse

Causes of Agitation and Aggression

Most of the time, agitation and aggression happen for a reason. When they happen, try to find the cause. If you deal with the causes, the behavior may stop. For example, the person may have:

  • Paindepression, or stress
  • Too little rest or sleep
  • Constipation
  • Soiled underwear or diaper
  • Sudden change in a well-known place, routine, or person
  • A feeling of loss—for example, the person may miss the freedom to drive
  • Too much noise or confusion or too many people in the room
  • Being pushed by others to do something—for example, to bathe or to remember events or people—when Alzheimer’s has made the activity very hard or impossible
  • Feeling lonely and not having enough contact with other people
  • Interaction of medicines

Look for early signs of agitation or aggression. If you see the signs, you can deal with the cause before problem behaviors start. Try not to ignore the problem. Doing nothing can make things worse.

A doctor may be able to help. He or she can give the person a medical exam to find any problems that may cause agitation and aggression. Also, ask the doctor if a medicine is needed to prevent or reduce agitation or aggression.

Tips for Coping with Agitation or Aggression

Here are some ways you can cope with agitation or aggression:

  • Reassure the person. Speak calmly. Listen to his or her concerns analzheimers-rummaging-hiding-things-metad frustrations. Try to show that you understand if the person is angry or fearful.
  • Allow the person to keep as much control over his or her life as possible.
  • Try to keep a routine, such as bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time each day.
  • Build quiet times into the day, along with activities.
  • Keep well-loved objects and photographs around the house to help the person feel more secure.
  • Try gentle touching, soothing music, reading, or walks.
  • Reduce noise, clutter, or the number of people in the room.
  • Try to distract the person with a favorite snack, object, or activity.
  • Limit the amount of caffeine, sugar, and “junk food” the person drinks and eats.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Slow down and try to relax if you think your own worries may be affecting the person with Alzheimer’s.
  • Try to find a way to take a break from caregiving.

Safety Concerns

When the person is aggressive, protect yourself and others. If you have to, stay at a safe distance from the person until the behavior stops. Also, try to protect the person from hurting himself or herself.

Source: Coping with Agitation and Aggression in Alzheimer’s Disease

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