Thursday, May 19, 2011

Anger of the Alzheimer's Loved One

“Whatever I neglect now I shall have to pay for later.”
― Nelly Ptaschkina

 Bob DeMarco on the Alzheimer's Reading Room (see above link) wrote this today:
The proactive Alzheimer's caregivers decide to do. This changes the way their brain is wired. This change leads them away from the "lamenting of their own sad fate", away from "venting" and puts them on the path to the positive. The path of doing.
De Marco says that he has been interviewed and he is asked to talk about how horrible being a caregiver is, but he doesn't respond to how horrible being a caregiver is. When you read his interaction with his mother, Dotty, you see how he cares for her proactively.

We can do much proactively ourselves with the LORD's help to not have an angry loved one. Yet anger is inevitable for our Alzheimer's loved one. The brain's hippocampus, which controls social behavior, is losing neurons.  One man in my support group whose father had Alzheimer's reported that the family had to hide all the knives in the house. The 36-Hour Day, 4th Edition, says: "Try not to interpret anger in the same way as you would if it came from a well person." (p. 153) Jennifer Ghent-Fuller says that person with AD have both "an altered view of reality" and "behavior that can change depending on how we interact with them." See Ghent-Fuller's Internet Article. Excellent help in this article.

We need to do whatever it takes to make them feel emotionally secure so they don't become angry. We need to change--they can't. Show them respect. Let them in on their medical situations perhaps by saying I need to provide clues for you because you have short-term memory. Then do not harp on this fact. My husband came up with several solutions himself. He asked for a daily checklist for when I am gone. DONE. (Some days he doesn't remember to use it, however.) He asked for a small calendar like the one he used for 2009-2010. DONE. I went to Staples today and got the earlier one for all of 2011-2012 essentially for free because it was discounted to $5.99 and  I had $6.00 in reward points. (More on couponing later.) Then I wrote events in that calendar.

Scripture says, "A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare." Later in that same Proverbs 15 chapter we are admonished to think carefully before speaking. We have to give important information simply.  Keeping a journal of problem behavior and that journal can lead us to solutions. What led up to the anger? How did I respond--gently? If not, how did I make the anger escalate. The Alzheimer's Reading Room always has great clues for speaking gently and we can put our ideas out there for solutions and Bob and his readers generally reply.

We can affirm the emotions the Alzheimer's loved one  feels. You greatly miss driving. . . .  I see what you are saying. . . .  It may be okay if we give it time.  However, we have to say only one idea at a time. See if we can figure out their point of view.  Sometimes we can distract them with something they like such as ice cream. There may come a time when the neurologist or primary care physicial needs to prescribe anti-psychotics or anti-depressants for either the AD loved on or the caregiver herself!

Back to the quote at the top of this post. We can be proactive. Judy Berry on The ALZHEIMERS READING ROOM writes
 The ONLY Way to Deal with Challenging Behavior
 in Persons with Dementia IS
"To PREVENT IT in the First Place"


  1. Hi..... hope you're having a great weekend!

    I'm in the midst of so much Alzheimer's right now, that I'm finding that I don't want to read anything about it.
    Each circumstance and person is so completely different....

    Hugs and God's blessings to you!!

  2. On the flip side of that coin.. what heart attitudes cause a caregiver to struggle with bitterness when they feel as if they are carrying the entire load?

  3. Living on Less,

    I haven't encountered anger for my load yet. Or, if I have, I try not to go there and daily bathe myself in Scripture (Col. 3:16).

    Looking to the sovereign, load-bearing LORD,