Mom has been displaying aggressive behavior when I suggest something or ask a question. Is this normal for Alzheimer's/dementia and what should I do? -

Mom has been displaying aggressive behavior when I suggest something or ask a question. Is this normal for Alzheimer's/dementia and what should I do?


My 83 yr old mother lives with us due to her dementia/alzheimers. She is very passive-agressive and has been all her life. Recently, she has been displaying somewhat violent, very agressive behavior when I suggest something or ask her a question. Is this normal for alzheimers/dementia and what should I do? How do I handle it in the right way and not take it personal?



My mom was in a NH and became combative and was sent to hospital with UTI and a infection in her legs. She also kept ripping out her IVs but she was so combative that they had to put her on Ativan. In the end they determined this was her new base level, she had much difficulty swallowing and I chose to do palliative care until she passed not long after. Raging infections can set off so many things in the elderly and they don’t always bounce back. May I also just say my
Mom was a bit aggressive before the infection from her dementia as it progressed but it became way worse with a infection.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to EricaMagoo83

This occurred with my mother as well, and it seems that she has a similar personality. She is end of stage 6, beginning stage 7 of dementia (vascular).
Definitely check for UTIs, but for my Mom that just causes delirium.
For my mom, I think the change in aggression was happening due to depression & anxiety. She wasn’t showing any other signs of drepression, but in speaking to her dr, we talked about how scary it must be for her. She was still just cognizant enough of everything to realize that she was truly ‘losing herself’ and the passive aggressiveness turned into more just aggressiveness. We started her on the lowest dose of an anti depressant and the whole world changed! She didn’t become a zombie or have any other negative side effects, so it was definitely the right drug for her. Sometimes it takes a couple tries to find the right drug.
Her normal passive aggressiveness returned, but even that was to a much lesser extent. Overall, she was just more content.
Good luck. Every persons journey is different, and every day brings something new.
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Reply to Basdavis

Sad to say Lindy agression is frequently seen in ALZ. patients....please have her checked out medically especially for UTI's but know that this may continue for awhile....and they can get very violent! We had to make sure that my mom had no access to knives, scissors or anything that could be used to stab, cut or otherwise hurt someone (that's a lot of 'things')....she also would bite and pinch (especially breasts) and speaking from experience that can really HURT! Thankfully after she passed through this period it did not reappear. Please be careful and also have her seen by a geriatrician, they may be able to find a medication for her that safely reduces or eliminates this behaviour. God bless you and your family during this troubling time. Lindaz.
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Reply to lindaz

It can be normal in a stage of AD, but before you rush to anti-psychiotics look at the side effects of all her current meds.

My mom had been given a seizure med that had a side effect of aggression, but no one looked at it, including myself until 3 months ago. It was absolutely amazing how her personality changed once she was off it. Now we've got her off the anti-psychiotics as well and she is able to walk and talk again.

Of course that isn't what happens to everyone but just a cautionary tale to check side effects.
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Reply to NomadSE

First of all, get her completely medically checked out. I do think too this has something to do with dementia. However, whether it is dementia or some other illness, I am very sorry but I will NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO ACT OUT LIKE THIS. Why? It is hurtful and upsetting and will eventually cause great harm emotionally and mentally to the caretaker - and caretakers do NOT deserve that treatment. it may not stop or change the behavior but it sure makes YOU feel good when you get your feelings out. If you don't, it will build up in you with ever growing resentment and that is when the problems will really start. So, my advice is - DO NOT ALLOW IT.
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Reply to Riley2166

It is my understanding that this is normal when they don't know the answers - even people without dementia can get aggressive when we can't comply.

Sadly, I don't know how to fix this since it isn't just dementia or sickly people. I combat it with my aging DH (96-1/2) by slowly repeating information he can't remember. I can't even count the number of times I have "reminded" him that I am his wife of 33 years and we have lived in this house for 30 years. When I tell him we own the house, he thinks I went out 'yesterday' and bought it. Sometimes he thinks he bought it yesterday. The rest of the time he has no idea where we are and wants to go home.

Sometimes the frustration causes him to get 'testy' with me but thankfully I can usually calm him down. Sometimes I am the one to get 'testy' but he no longer remembers how to calm me down. I take it ONE day at a time.

P.S.  No, he has no UTI - but I have put him on Iodoral (Iodine) and it has helped with his cognition.  I also have him on Ashwagahnda which is supposed to help brain function and help him to get a better night's sleep.
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Reply to RayLinStephens

Thank you Johnnyj.
That was a very helpful answer.
The entire dementia disease is so puzzling. People with dementia have brain damage. The diagnosis means they have impaired judgement. It also means judgement and behavior can change with the day, circumstance, other illnesses, situations, and who they are talking to. Also, as the prior person answered, how that person is approached and the way they are talked to can change behavior sometimes.

I am a Speech Language Pathologist that worked in nursing homes hospitals and clinics for 30 years.
Validation therapy, memory books, distraction,being relaxed and never argue are the things I used in my practice, in training staff and families can all help in different stages of the progression.
Just to add, I am going through this with my 90 year old father who has been deemed incompetent. My 6 siblings are finding it difficult to do anyof the strategies that I taught other families and staff. I am their sister and they don’t think of me as a professional. Bless all of us for trying as it is impossible not to get emotional in interactions with your parent. They are no longer the adult they used to be.
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Reply to PrairieLake

When my friend, Beth, for whom I was her durable power of attorney, became really uncooperative at her memory care place, the nurse said I should take her to a geri-psych ward in a hospital to find an anti-psychotic drug that would calm her down without doping her up. I found an opening in a nearby hospital and it took them 3 1/2 weeks to find the right medication and dosage for her. She was able to be worked with after this and was as mentally alert as her frontal temporal dementia would allow. Her medical insurance covered all the expenses. This is often a stage of Alzheimers and frontal temporal dementia in addition to the UTI.
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Reply to JohnnyJ

I would also suggest you look up Teepa Snow and/or Naomi Feil. There are videos and books on how to approach and deal with PWD. I read up on validation and it helped me as I communicated with mom.
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Reply to Grammyteacher

Thanks Amhijoy! I will get her checked for uti. She just had one about 4 or 5 mths ago so maybe it has come back. Again, thank you so much! Linda
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Reply to Lindy59