When Aggression Follows Dementia
new york times logo

Let’s be clear: physically aggressive behavior arises in a sizable minority of dementia patients — a German study of nursing home patients published last year put the proportion at nearly 29 percent — but those most endangered are the people with dementia themselves and their caregivers.

But violent behavior presents a particularly knotty problem for families. They know their loved ones with dementia generally don’t intend to cause harm. Yet when confused, fearful, angry or in pain, they may kick, hit, bite, throw or shove.

A Montana woman named June recently told me that her husband, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago, was becoming more irritable and resistant — and sleeping with a loaded gun. At his doctor’s insistence, she and her sons removed his three firearms from the house, a blow to a longtime hunter. Yet Joe still carries a canister of pepper spray in his pocket when he leaves the house.

Aggressive behavior and fears that a person will harm himself or others are among the most common reasons caregivers consider placing a family member in an institution, an Alzheimer’s Foundation of America survey found last year. But facilities, concerned about safety for their staff and other residents, aren’t always willing to take on that challenge, either.

Read more in the New York Times.

This is an external article from our library

Everyone is talking about caregiving, but it can still be difficult to find meaningful information and real stories that go deep. We read (and listen to and watch and look at) the best content about caregiving and bring you a curated selection.

Have a great story about care work? Use our contact form to submit it to us so we can share it with the community!

Related Articles

Meet the Underdog of Senior Care

Meet the Underdog of Senior Care

Ms. Biteranta now receives all of her health care through PACE, which monitors her, along with 120 other seniors, meticulously. PACE supplies much...

Popular categories

After Caregiving
Finding Meaning
Finding Support

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts


Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.