A recent study published late last fall revealed interesting information on the trends in new residents moving to a memory care assisted living community. While more women than men are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease every year, men are outpacing the rate of growth for moves to a senior living community. When looking at data from July of 2011 through June of 2014, the study showed that men are 27% more likely to require a memory care program than women and they are moving to a community 14% faster than their female counterparts.
Researchers felt there were two reasons that might be linked to this trend. For family caregivers, wandering and aggression are two of the most difficult behaviors to try to successfully manage in a home environment. Men have higher rates of both. They are 8% more likely to wander and 30% more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior. The causes of each are often fairly similar.
What Causes Wandering and Aggression in People with Alzheimer’s?
There are several reasons commonly believed to contribute to both wandering and aggressive behavior:
- Physical pain: Because people with dementia often have difficulty communicating, they may not be able to express that they are in pain. When a loved one exhibits either behavior, try to determine if something is physically wrong. It might be an infection, arthritis or another chronic health condition common among seniors.
- Overstimulation: Because of the damage Alzheimer’s does to the brain, people living with the disease have trouble processing an overly noisy or busy environment. It can cause them to act out in ways that include outbursts of anger and frustration or even lead them to wander.
- Fatigue: Sleeping problems are common among those with Alzheimer’s. Despite being exhausted, they may still be unable to sleep. This can lead to frustration and angry behaviors.
- Poor communication: Being unable to convey what their physical needs are can lead someone with Alzheimer’s disease to wander or lash out in anger. It might be that they are hungry or they need to use the restroom. They might also be having difficulty following a caregiver’s direction if what they are being asked to do requires them to use parts of their memory that no longer function properly.
- Medication issues: Medications impact older adults differently than they do younger people. It leads to increased numbers of accidental overdose and to more interactions among medicines.