Dementia Elderly and Anger: Causes, Tips and Prevention

Curated by vivien

January 12, 2023


Dementia elderly

One of the most difficult challenges that dementia elderly caregivers face is outburst of rage, agitation and aggression. When a loved one’s personality turns hostile, it can be frustrating. Dementia elderly may be more prone to yelling, making rude remarks and even becoming violent as their cognitive function deteriorate. This article will act as a guide to help you to manage dementia anger outbursts.

Why does dementia elderly get angry?

Dementia elderly always get angry because of the changes in the brain. The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can make typical life stressors more difficult to deal with. The easygoing person you once knew may now react to things more harshly than before.

Your loved one may be more emotional but these reactions are frequently triggered by something significant, such as illness, pain or environmental factors. Understanding the causes of aggressive behavior in dementia can help caregivers in preventing and dealing with outbursts.

Dementia and frustration toward loved ones: How dementia elderly express their displeasure

Angers can be expressed in a variety of ways by a dementia elderly. A caregiver may be on the receiving end of it on a regular basis. Elderly with dementia may express their rage and discomfort in the following ways:

  • Yelling
  • Verbally abusing
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Physical violence

Although dementia anger is frequently directed at caregivers, this does not always imply that the caregiver is the root cause of the behavior. It’s critical to remember not to take a loved one’s behavior personally during outbursts. The issue is mostly not you, but the dementia.

Dementia and Violence

Anger can become violent and aggressive in the later stages of dementia. Aggressive behaviors in dementia elderly may include:

  • Throwing objects
  • Pushing or hitting to resist care
  • Accidentally injuring themselves

You must act quickly to manage these behaviors for their safety and yours if your loved one’s aggression has escalated into violence. A geriatrician should be able to rule out any factors that could be causing a senior’s outbursts and a trained dementia caregiver can help to manage their aggression on an ongoing basis. An objective third party may be able to identify the sources of anger more easily.

Anger is a symptom of what stage of dementia?

Dementia is commonly divided into seven stages, and anger typically begins in the middle stages (five to six) as cognitive declines worsens. However, not all dementia elderly will be affected by the “anger stage” of dementia and it has not been clinically proven to be worse in certain types of dementia.

As the disease progresses, there may also be other behavioral changes other than anger and aggression such as depression, anxiety, irritability and repetitive behaviors. These are all common behavioral changes in the middles stages.

Is anger a precursor to dementia?

No. In existing research studies, anger is not typically seen as an early sign of dementia. If your loved elderly exhibits sign of rage, it is not always a sign of dementia. Anger can be caused by a variety of factors, such as health issues, grief, feeling misunderstood, communication issues and fear of aging-related changes.

Six causes of aggressive dementia behavior

Anger outbursts in dementia elderly can be triggered by a variety of factors. The following are the most common causes of aggressive behavior in dementia elderly.


Progressive brain cell damage causes memory loss in dementia elderly, which can lead to confusion as well as frustration and anger. When your loved one notices that they are unable to recall recent events, complete specific tasks, make decisions or process information, they may become agitated. During these times, redirecting their attention away from what is triggering them and toward an activity they enjoy can be beneficial.

Psychological problems

There are around 30% to 40% of dementia people will develop depression as a result of chemical changes in the brain. Delusions and anxiety disorders are also common in dementia people. Once these disorders have been identified and diagnosed, a number of behavioral and therapeutic treatments can be used to help manage their symptoms.

Physical discomfort

If your loved one has dementia and frequently experiences physical discomfort, they may struggle to communicate it. This frequently leads to an emotional outburst, as it may be the only way they can express themselves. They may experience headaches, fatigue, urinary tract infections (UTI) and more. Identifying and treating the source of your loved one’s physical discomfort may help to prevent their anger and aggressive behavior.

Environmental aspects

A dementia elderly may also respond to discomfort or overstimulation in their environment. A room, for example, may be too cold, noisy, cluttered or crowded. Your loved one may be unable to process all of these stimuli or express their anxiety, confusion, fear or distress. These emotions can quickly accumulate and cause an emotional breakdown. A calm, controlled environment is essential for someone suffering from dementia.


Bad timing may also be a factor in your loved one’s agitation. Sundown syndrome, a group of symptoms that occur during the transition from daylight to darkness, is common in people with dementia. Sundown syndrome may be the culprit if your loved one becomes frustrated and overwhelmed in the evenings. There are numerous inventive approaches to “sundowning”. If managing sundown at home becomes difficult, you may seek for help from professional caregiver who is trained in dementia care.

Poor communication

The way you speak to a dementia elderly is very important. While your loved one can’t express their needs and feelings clearly, they can still sense your moods. Trying to rush them or force them to do something they are unable or unwilling to do can cause understandable agitation.

How to deal with dementia anger and aggression

Identifying the source of outbursts can assist caregivers in managing anger and aggressive dementia behaviours more effectively and may reduce their frequency. Here are some tips to help you to deal with dementia anger and aggression:

  • Be mindful of your tone and body language. Be patient and soft-spoken, but not condescending. Do not compel them to do anything, but rather ask or suggest them. Make soothing gestures and use a gentle touch.
  • Understand their triggers. You probably have a good understanding of your loved one’s likes and dislikes as a family member. Use this information to avoid situations that have previously resulted in outbursts or frustration.
  • Adjust your expectations. Your loved one’s ability are likely to deteriorate as dementia progresses. Adjust your expectations and care approach on a regular basis to meet their changing needs and capabilities.
  • Make use of therapies or medications. Various behavioural therapies or medicines may be beneficial depending on the stage of your loved one’s dementia and their mental and physical health. Consult their doctor about the best treatment options for their symptoms.
  • Keep an eye on their physical health. Examine nonverbal cues for health complications and discomfort. For example, if your loved one is in pain, they may always wince or grimace. Their outbursts could be caused by a physical condition, such as urinary tract infection, constipation or other treatable conditions.
  • Prevent the symptoms of sundowning. To avoid night time agitation, establish a routine in which challenging activities are completed earlier in the day, use light therapy and avoid excessive noise.


You can cope by learning to redirect your loved one’s attention and having open and honest conversations with other family members and health care providers. Importantly, everyone involved must be patient. It is difficult to care for someone who has dementia. If your loved one’s anger or aggression is becoming unmanageable and you are feeling increasingly exhausted, it may be time to seek for outside help. You may hire a full-time maid and send her for training in dementia care. Help Is Here can help you to allocate a full-time maid that meet your requirements and demands. Contact us for more information.

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