While the number of women living with Alzheimer’s disease continues to outnumber men, more men are moving to dementia care assisted living communities and at a faster rate. A study released in late 2014 examined the issues behind these statistics.

Agitation, Wandering and Aggression in Men with Alzheimer’s Disease

The research conducted by a national senior care placement company looked at memory care admissions from July of 2011 through June of 2014. It found that men are 27% more likely to require a dedicated dementia care program than their female counterparts. Men also moved to these communities at a 14% faster rate than women.

Two primary reasons seemed to lead families to search for a memory care program. Wandering and aggression were both behaviors adult children and caregiving spouses found too difficult to safely manage in their homes. The study reinforced what many Alzheimer’s experts already knew. Men have higher rates of both these challenging behaviors. They are 8% more likely to wander and 30% more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors than women with Alzheimer’s disease.

Potential Causes Wandering and Aggression in People with Alzheimer’s

While the cause of wandering and aggression still isn’t completely understood, experts believe there are some factors that may contribute to both:

  1. Too Much Stimulation: A noisy, overly busy environment can negatively impact someone with Alzheimer’s. Because the disease causes damage to the brain, people with Alzheimer’s have difficulty processing too much information at one time. The frustration it causes can trigger angry, aggressive outbursts.
  2. Exhaustion and Chronic Fatigue: Alzheimer’s disrupts a person’s sleep-wake cycle. It isn’t uncommon for someone living with the disease to have problems sleeping and to go several days without sleep. Even though they are physically exhausted, they are unable to sleep. It can result in stress, anxiety and aggression.
  3. Unmet Needs: The loss of verbal communication skills makes it difficult to know what a senior loved one living with Alzheimer’s needs. They may be hungry, thirsty or have to use the bathroom and be unable to communicate it. These unmet needs can produce episodes of wandering and aggressive behavior with their caregiver. Undiagnosed pain can also cause a similar reaction.
  4. Communication Problems: Having problems following a caregiver’s directions can increase anxiety and agitation. Because a person with Alzheimer’s disease likely has an impaired abstract thought process, they may not be able to perform tasks that require the use of some types of memory. Trying to do so can result in anger and frustration.
  5. Medication Side Effects: Older adults process medicine differently than younger people. They sometimes require smaller dosages or a different medication entirely. The same is true for a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Difficult behaviors may be the result of being overmedicated or an interaction between their medications.

To learn more about Aggression and Anger visit the Alzheimer’s Association resource center online. They share information and suggestions to help families manage challenges ranging from how to get someone with Alzheimer’s to eat to how to use visual cues to communicate.


Photo Credit