Difficult Behaviors in Men with Alzheimer’s Disease

Man With HeadacheWhen a husband or father is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, families often try to find ways to keep them safe at home. As the disease progresses, however, it can be increasingly difficult to do. A few of the behaviors that are common among people with Alzheimer’s disease make it difficult for a spouse or daughter to manage their care at home. Two behaviors that may force a family to consider a move to an assisted living community for their senior loved one are wandering and aggression.

Wandering and Aggression in Men with Alzheimer’s Disease

Men with Alzheimer’s have higher incidences of the two behaviors caregivers often report being the most difficult to manage at home: wandering and aggression. The latter can be very difficult to safely cope with at home, especially for an older female spouse. Even men with no previous history of violent behavior can exhibit signs of aggression as their disease takes its course.

The statistics from a survey conducted by a leading senior care firm highlight just how much more common these behaviors are among men. In analyzing memory care admissions trends across the country over a three year period, they discovered:

  • Men are moving to dementia care communities at a rate that is 14% greater than women.

  • Men are 27% more likely to need a memory care assisted living program.

  • Men are 8% more likely to wander.

  • Men are 30% more likely to show aggression with family caregivers.

Learning how to prevent and manage aggression often comes down to understand what is causing the behavior.

Causes of Aggression in Men with Alzheimer’s

Unfortunately, as is true of so many issues related to Alzheimer’s, no one really knows what causes some men with the disease to become aggressive while others don’t. Some of the more commonly believed triggers of aggression are:

  • Pain or discomfort: It might be that the person with Alzheimer’s disease is in pain, they are exhausted from a lack of sleep or they are experiencing an adverse reaction to a medication.

  • Unmet need: Aggression may also be the result of an unmet need. The older adult may be thirsty or hungry. They may have to use the bathroom and not know how to find it.

  • Over-stimulation: Because of the damage caused to the brain, people with Alzheimer’s can become agitated by loud noises, a crowded environment, being asked too many questions or simply from being overly tired.

If you are trying to manage a senior loved one’s aggression, evaluating them for each of these issues may help you get to the root of the behavior.

Learn More about Managing Alzheimer’s Aggression

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Caregiver Center has more information and resources that may be of help to family caregivers struggling to manage a loved one’s aggression.