Healthy Living

Why an Alzheimer's Patient May Be Violent

Why an Alzheimer's Patient May Be Violent

Violent and aggressive behavior is an issue that many with Alzheimer's face, and it also affects their friends and family. It doesn't happen as frequent as other symptoms, but when it does, it usually happens out of pressure or stress that the patient may be feeling. There could be quite a few reasons why a patient with Alzheimer's behaves violently, and when they do, it should be handled very delicately.

Some of the reasons why a patient could be acting out are:

Change in Medication 

People react to drugs differently, and this might spur some side effects. In case a patient is given a new medication or supplement, they are to be monitored properly in order to detect subtle changes in behavior. This is to ensure it is detected quickly enough to be managed. In situations where a new medication causes violent behavior, medical personnel must be contacted as soon as possible so that the patient is handled appropriately.


The feelings of loss and confusion can lead to very rash behaviors. Some patients with Alzheimer’s often break out from the emotional pain they go through. They realize that they have a problem and can correct it in any way. Also, feelings of inability to control the happenings in one’s life can lead to an emotional outbreak. This emotional outbreak sometimes leads to violent episodes. It can be the inability to make the proper response to a gesture or situation that might lead to them breaking out in anger.


The feeling of having no one around to listen to their grief and understand what they are going through might spur aggressive thoughts. This is actually normal for anyone to feel when they do not have the right amount of support that they need. Everyone needs someone to love them and understand them. These patients need people, or someone, to express love to them despite their situation and understand their pain.

When to Call for Help

If the behavior continues and begins to worsen over time with signs such as yelling, slamming objects around, refusing to eat, throwing stuff around and being physically violent becoming more intense, then normal caregiving and love would not be enough. The attention of medical personnel is needed, especially since they are properly trained to handle situations like this.

The mid-stages of Alzheimer's are associated with violent behaviors. At these points, the brain has been damaged to the extent that the ability to reason and make good decisions is difficult or impossible. Violent behaviors, then, can be classified as a catastrophic reaction and must be treated as such.

How it Affects the Patient and the Caregiver

It also affects the patient and the caregiver immensely. The caregiver experiences what is termed caregiver’s guilt. This is the feeling of guilt as a result of receiving negative reactions from the patient, in the process of caring for them. Sometimes, remembering that an Alzheimer’s patient is not functioning in the right frame of mind is difficult. They would have caused so much hurt to the caregiver that the caregiver would begin to lose hold of the fact that the behavior is controlled by the disease. It is advised that the things they say or do are to be overlooked or waved off. The patients need love and compassion, but they do not even know that. All they know is that they cannot respond to their environment properly, and feel the right way to handle it is by taking out their anger on the environment.

One hypothesis stated that violent behavior in a patient with Alzheimer’s has a lot to do with the patient’s behavior before the disease. It portrayed that many patients who have shown aggressiveness before were more likely to express this sort of behavior when diagnosed. However, this is entirely false. Rash behavior is not controlled by the patient. It resulted from damaged brain cells, which lead to the inability to coordinate one’s behavior. So, even the sweetest and nicest person in the world could be violent when the disease kicks in.

What is the Best Way to Handle a Violent Patient?

Patients experiencing behaviors as a result of a catastrophic reaction behave in ways that are foreign to the caregiver. The patient might go as far as causing harm and even inflicting physical pain. In situations like this, the patient must not be restrained.

Restraining the patient would only cause the patient to flare up more and escalate their actions. The best thing that can be done in situations like this is to talk to the patient in a soft and understanding manner and try to calm them down. Make them realize that their complaint is understood, and anything they wanted would be sorted out immediately.

If a calm and gentle response to their behavior has little or no effect, it is advisable to contact a physician. This level of outrage cannot be handled unless there is professional medical personnel at hand. Medical personnel can prescribe certain medications and suggest other means to suppress violent and aggressive behavior.

An important thing a caregiver has to put in mind is that having little kids around might not be the best thing to do when handling an Alzheimer’s patient. Children can sometimes be noisy, which can create an uncomfortable and confusing atmosphere for the patient. A caregiver that has kids might find it hard to cope with situations like this because children can sometimes be hard to control and a nuisance, making a patient irritated. The caregiver would have to keep an extra eye out in order to avoid an Alzheimer’s patient taking out their anger on children.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a particular type of dementia that affects memory, thinking, and behavior of a person. The symptoms are slow in developing and, eventually, worsen with time. These symptoms might get so severe that they interfere with the daily routine activities of the affected individual.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most popular form of dementia. It is usually the cause of about 80 percent of every dementia documented. Dementia is a word used for memory loss and loss of intellectual ability. While it is not a part of aging like most would think, age is one of the greatest risk factors of the disease. It is more prevalent in those over 65, but it can be diagnosed in patients who are in their early 40's and 50's. This early appearance of the disease is called the younger onset of the disease.

While there is no cure as of today, it can be treated and managed in order to suppress its symptoms. However, treatments are not able to stop the disease from progressing. They are only able to slow it down and improve the quality of life for the patient. There has been a lot of research on Alzheimer's in recent years that have been taking place all over the world.