What causes aggression in dementia? [5 reasons]

Uncategorized May 31, 2022

Hey there Careblazer. While all dementia behaviors can be difficult in their own way, today, I want to talk about hostility and combativeness in your LOWD. As we all know frustration can quickly escalate to hostility and aggression. Today I want to talk about some of the reasons your LOWD may become combative and what to consider in these situations. 


If you would rather watch a video on this topic, click here!


Ok Careblazer, so… what do you do when your LOWD begins to get frustrated? Let’s first pause and think about why they are becoming frustrated to begin with and this may give us our answer as to how to respond.There are many reasons your LOWD may be frustrated, here are 5 possibilities:


  1. There is too much going on in the environment (TV, people in the home, eating, strong smells, animals, loud noises). 

When the environment around you is overwhelming, it is easy for anyone to begin to get frustrated. Take a second to think about this: if you are driving somewhere new with the radio on, what do you do when you start to get close and need to concentrate on where you are going? Turn the radio down! We reduce the things distracting us so we do not become overwhelmed. Your LOWD may not be able to tell you to turn the radio down or that there is too much going on. Pay attention to what is happening in the environment. What distractions can you reduce?

  1. Loss of control. 

Having dementia leads to loss of control over time. Not only loss of control of their thinking but also loss of choices. As we get into routines, we can start to forget to offer our LOWD choices throughout the day. Sometimes offering simple choices for everyday activities or tasks such as what to eat, what show to watch, who they want to call to speak with on the phone can all help to increase a sense of control and reduce frustration.

  1. You are asking your LOWD to do something they are no longer able to. 

This one is difficult. Remember, dementia is progessive, meaning it gets worse over time. While you want to continue to keep your LOWD engaged in activities they used to do, their ability to do those activities may change over time. Pay attention to what you are asking and make note if you need to slowly modify tasks to reduce frustration. 

  1. A change in their routine. 

Being flexible with your routine is hard, even without dementia. With dementia, changes in routine can be confusing and, at times, scary. If there is a change in the routine, consider ways you can help make sure they know what is happening. Can you use reminders? Are there visuals? Are there items that may help them feel safer in a new environment (a favorite hat? Their wallet? A special watch?). Helping to keep them oriented and feeling safe when changes happen can make all the difference. 

  1. You are frustrated. 

Caring for your LOWD can be hard. There will be times you are frustrated AND we know that your LOWD may not always know exactly what is going on BUT they can understand when you are mad or annoyed. Pay attention to how you are approaching and interacting with your LOWD. The way you begin and continue interacting may make all the difference. 



There are several other reasons your LOWD may become frustrated or combative with you. These might include being tired or hungry, being afraid, having trouble seeing or hearing, pain, and medication side effects among others. If you suspect that medication side effects or pain may be involved, remember to contact your LOWD’s primary care provider.


Careblazer, you know your loved one. If they are consistently becoming frustrated or angry, what were the things that bothered them in the past? MIght those be a factor now? 


Ok, Careblazer. That’s all for now but tune in next week where I am going to review some general tips for reducing dementia frustration regardless of the reason for it. 



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