Aggression in Men with Alzheimer’s Disease

We know women outlive men for a variety of reasons. But if you visit a memory care program in an assisted living community, you will likely notice men make up what seems to be a disproportionate amount of the resident population. A new study on Alzheimer’s and men sheds light on why.

Looking at three years of admissions data from memory care programs across the country, researchers found men are 27% more likely to require a memory care program than women are. Men are moving to an Alzheimer’s or dementia community 14% faster than their women. As researchers dug a little deeper into the reasons why, they came up with two behaviors that seemed to trigger the move: wandering and aggression. Both can be hard for family caregivers to try to cope with and manage at home. Men exhibit higher numbers in both behaviors than women.

  • Men are 8% more likely to wander from home than women.
  • Men are 30% more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior with family members and caregivers.

Causes of Aggression and Wandering Among Older Adults with Alzheimer’s

Because so many issues related to Alzheimer’s disease continue to be a mystery, the exact reasons for aggression and wandering aren’t known. Alzheimer’s researchers do believe they understand some of the possible causes. They can include:

  1. Undiagnosed pain. Communication can be difficult for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. The loss of verbal skills makes it harder to know when they are in pain. Whether it is the pain of a chronic health condition like arthritis or a new problem like a bladder infection, it can be challenging to figure out the source of the pain when someone lives with dementia.
  2. Fatigue. Alzheimer’s patients can seemingly go for days without sleep. That behavior doesn’t mean they aren’t tired. Chronic fatigue is common as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. It can lead to aggression because the person is so exhausted and frustrated at their body’s inability to sleep.
  3. Medication interactions. As we age, our bodies process medications differently. It can mean an older adult requires less of a medication or develops a problem with one they have taken for many years.
  4. Overstimulation. People with Alzheimer’s disease have trouble processing information. A noisy or hectic environment can be too much for them. It can lead to aggression and wandering.
  5. Communication struggles. Just the very fact that they have lost their ability to communicate can cause great frustration. When someone with Alzheimer’s needs to use the restroom and they don’t know how to convey it, or if they are hungry and can’t figure out what to do about it, they may lash out in anger or wander off in search of a solution.

If you are caring for a central Ohio senior who is living with Alzheimer’s disease, we invite you to subscribe to our blog. We routinely share information and resources designed to be of help to adult children and family caregivers.