How do I address my elderly father's anger issues?

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My 87 year old father, who is in good physical health, gets upset and angry over every little thing. He hold grudges against anyone who disagrees with him, sometimes confronting them about it angrily. He holds grudges over things that happened years ago and repeats stories about why he feels that he has been wronged over and over again. I've begged him to let things go, but he continues to build up anger. I think he is depressed. It is taking a toll on my 80 year old mother who has heart problems. I live out of state and don't know what to do. Anytime I try to get him to let things go, he just says he isn't going to let others get the best of him. I've never known him act out physically toward anyone, but sometimes he slams his fists on the table when he gets mad. He has had some of these tendencies his whole life, but they are getting much worse as he gets older. Your advice on what to do to address this issue is appreciated.

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WHO knows what is really going on...all we know is that it is and it seems nothing really works in my point of view. I DO KNOW that this too shall pass and that it seems things change daily with Alzheimer's and Dementia even just being older I guess. Truth is I think we all better start preparing for the same such and probably the best thing to do is find an Assisted Living close to them or better yet close to YOU (so you can visit) and talk them into that. My Mom still says NO but I truly think she will like it when she gets there.
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When a person has AD, their inhibitions are lost. True emotions that they felt for years can come out, in unpleasant ways. I saw many patients like this in visiting AD assisted living places. I agree a geriatric psychiatrist would be able to determine medication to relax your dad. My dad became so angry after suffering brain injury that her had to be heavily medicated. It was very scary. Try to think about how scared he is, as he believes what he is telling you. I am a pharmacist and perhaps a combo of medication and behavioral therapy could help you dad. I personally have great fear that this could happen to me.
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Snowquail, please do not advise people to wave their arms and act scared around elderly people. This can actually scare an elderly person and cause them to panic and have high anxiety. Especially if an elder has dementia or Alzheimer's it can also cause that elderly person to be combative and violent. It is always best to say stay calm, use a calm tone of voice and be the stable person in the room. Also it is best to give that older physical space when they become angry and violent. If you get too close to their face or look like you are also losing control of your emotions, it causes the Elder to become scared and defend themselves. Anyone who has been trained and Elder Care would never recommend what you did to this particular person.
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Actually I would suggest you also have someone test him for Alzheimers and dementia because repeating those stories over and over again and getting angry and frustrated are symptoms of both Alzheimer's and Dementia. He may be scared and frustrated and not know how to show it and so it's coming out looking like anger. I found that a lot of patients with Alzheimer's and Dementia seem like they're angry but when you really talk to them they have a fear of something or they're frustrated because their brains are not working like they did when they were younger and they're not being able to communicate their feelings or needs the way that they need to. As hard as it may be try not to take these outbursts personally and definitely try to follow up with a doctor and have him tested for dementia and Alzheimer's.
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Has your father always been like this, or is this a more recent development? You have good advice on here. my dad has always been an angry man but it intensified after his stroke nearly 4 years ago and my stepmom was at the breaking point. Dad's doctor prescribed medication for him, which has helped with his anger. Good luck to you and let us know how you and your mom are doing.
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Sounds like he reacting to his loss of control over life. He needs some activities where he IS in control. I had a job once where everything I did was wrong, and nothing worked out, and I had
no control over anything. Since there was nothing I could do (loss of control), I secretely emptyed the pencil shapener of shavings every day. "There" I said "I have accomplished something today".

There is another technique that you may or may not want to use. Whenever he gets angry, you stand up, put a wild look on your face, wave your arms, agree with him and take it several steps further. He may well try to calm you down and in doing so will calm himself down.
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You might consider using a spiritual-philosophical approach with him. For example, if he is Christian, the Sermon on the Mount has great lessons and food for thought. If he has no religion, there are still plenty of good books and other resources discussing forgiveness and inner peace. You can get online for free Peace Pilgrim’s “Steps for Inner Peace,” which is a small but useful pamphlet.

You might also look at his diet. If it is high in processed sugar and starches, and low in natural healthy fats, those things can affect the mood, as well as cause brain disorders. Many people are loathe to change their dietary lifestyle habits. But maybe you could subtly add healthier foods to his diet.
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Get him to a geriatric psychiatrist. This is called rumination. there are certain antidepressants that work well with this condition, so you need to be able to describe to the doctor what your dad's mental issues are. Start a list.
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FargoDan, here is a good article I found on the Aging Care website that might be helpful. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/bad-behavior-by-elderly-parents-138673.htm
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