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Alzheimer's Disease Care: Embarrassing Outbursts

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease go through a variety of changes during their time with the diagnosis. Denial, confusion, loss of memory, and yes, anger are all parts of the disease. In some cases, outbursts can be quite public and embarrassing for all parties involved.

How do these outbursts happen? Individuals with Alzheimer’s are prone to being suspicious of others wanting to harm them. Couple that confusion with the normal frustration of not being able to remember things or how to do activities, and you have a recipe for letting that frustration out.

Prepare yourself for these kinds of episodes with your loved one’s physician, your siblings and other family members. Talk to other caregivers in person and online to share stories and ideas of how to handle these experiences. While you are preparing, consider the following thoughts.

Avoid large crowds. If you can see your loved one becoming frustrated while in a mall or at a restauurant, it’s time to leave as quickly and as deftly as possible. Take a walk with your loved one to calm him or her down, or take your loved one for a drive where he or she can listen to soothing music.

If your loved one is stronger than you, anticipate the possibility of an outburst and bring someone who can assist you. If your loved one becomes violent when frustrated, get out of the way! This is another instance where you need to anticipate the kind of help you need, or whether you can handle it yourself.

These outbursts can be unpredictable, but they can also be managed with medication, alternativie therapies, and recognition when they take place. Have your loved one see his or her physician to assess whether altering medication is the right way to treat the issue.

You should also have a conversation with the family and your loved one to let him or her know about the outbursts--he or she might not be aware of them--in an empathetic way. Ask your loved one about how the outbursts start and how they make him or her feel. This dialogue can help you plan what options to use when looking to calm your loved one down.

He or she might be embarrassed about the situation overall. Acknowledge that feeling and let the family tell him or her how much they love him or her. Empathy, preparation and assistance can help you curb these outbursts.