Aggressiveness is a symptom that families and nursing staff often have difficulties with. Aggressiveness may be expressed verbally and/or physically. Aggressive behaviour can have various causes, such as pain, depression, or a misunderstanding (between the carer or vice versa). The lack of insight resulting from the disease can lead to frustration. Another reason may be agnosia – in other words, an impaired ability to interpret sensory impressions.
Good advice for handling aggressiveness:
- Try to investigate the causes of the aggressiveness so that the right measures can be taken. Is it discomfort? What causes it? Is the person tired or hungry? Does he/she feel disoriented or unsafe?
- Confirm the feeling by saying, “I can see you are upset…”
- Try to withhold your own anger, if you feel it. A person with dementia may respond to your emotions with aggression because he/she feels oppressed or misunderstood.
- Try to provide a distraction by doing something else.
- Try some relaxing or enjoyable activity.
Above all, make sure that you and the person you care for are safe. Avoid and prevent physical aggression and if it happens, consult a physician to find a way to handle it, perhaps with the use of medication.