5 Causes of Seniors’ Outbursts of Anger

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What Leads Aging Adults to Erupt in Anger in McKinney, TX

As a family caregiver, it can be unsettling when your aging parent has angry outbursts, and you might not know how to react. It’s crucial to understand the reasons behind your loved one’s outbursts so you can address them in a constructive way. Read on to learn some of the most common reasons aging adults sometimes erupt in anger and how you can handle it when your loved ones lashes out.

1. Physical Discomfort

Aging adults may become angry if they’re experiencing physical pain or discomfort. Your parent may be cold, hungry, or having an adverse reaction to a medication. If your loved one suddenly begins to frequently act angry or upset, it’s important to contact his or her physician right away for a checkup. He or she may have an underlying health condition, such as a urinary tract infection, which can often cause unusual behavioral symptoms in older adults.

Anger can also result from fatigue caused by poor sleep habits or unmanaged pain. In some cases, an outburst may be triggered by vision or hearing issues that result in an inability to do certain physical tasks. You may be able to handle these types of situations by:

• Identifying anything that might be causing physical distress for your loved one 
• Helping your parent if she or she is having difficulty with a physical task 
• Notifying the physician if you notice a sudden change in behavior after your loved one begins taking a new medication
• Seeking advice from the doctor to rule out potential issues such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia

Symptoms such as agitation, confusion, anger, and frustration are common in elderly people with dementia. Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. McKinney seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

2. Emotional Issues

Emotional issues associated with aging can lead to angry outbursts. These issues could include depression, anxiety, and increasing difficulty expressing feelings, which can in turn lead to frustration. Boredom, loneliness, and overstimulation can also trigger angry outbursts. In these cases, try:

• Removing excess noise and visual distractions from your parent’s surroundings
• Scheduling activities during the day to prevent boredom 
• Encouraging family and friends to visit your loved one regularly

3. Cognitive Issues or Dementia

Cognitive issues can lead seniors to have angry outbursts. These issues could include memory loss and increased difficulty with processing information. Your parent may become distressed if he or she doesn’t remember a family member’s name or a certain word, and he or she may confuse memories with present-day reality.

Anger can also be a sign of dementia. For example, seniors with Alzheimer’s often experience “sundowning,” which refers to confusion and aggression that occurs in the late afternoon and evening. If your loved one’s angry outbursts are due to cognitive issues or dementia: 

• Respond with empathy and compassion, and don’t use a condescending tone
• Use gentle touches and reassure your loved one with a calm, relaxed voice
• Try calming methods, such as playing relaxing music

The physical and cognitive challenges that accompany aging can make it difficult for seniors to manage everyday tasks, which can put their safety and health at risk. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of in-home care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services.

4. Environmental Changes

An older adult may be distressed by a sudden change in routine, or he or she may be uncomfortable in crowded or unfamiliar surroundings. Any kind of disruption in his or her routine—whether it’s going to the doctor or even a positive experience such as having family members visit—can cause a senior to become agitated. To prevent outbursts related to these types of situations: 

• Maintain a consistent schedule to reduce confusion
• Try to stick to familiar surroundings whenever possible
• Explain changes in advance so your loved one knows what to expect
• Remind your loved one you’ll be with him or her at all times
• Restrict the number of visitors your loved one has at one time if he or she gets overstimulated by having too many people around

5. No Apparent Cause

There may be times when you won’t be able to identify precisely why your parent is agitated or angry. If you’ve eliminated the possibility of physical pain or discomfort, try the following suggestions for addressing your loved one’s sudden outburst of anger:

• Maintain your composure, and don’t respond with anger in return
• Maintain eye contact with your parent and don’t show anxiety or alarm 
• Try to distract your loved one with an activity or different topic of conversation
• Validate your loved one’s feelings by listening to what he or she is saying 
• If possible, leave the room for a few minutes to give yourself and your parent the opportunity to calm down 

Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted McKinney at-home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our Care Managers at (972) 548-0392 to learn about our customized in-home care plans.


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