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Moody & Agressive Behaviors
Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2017 10:30 AM
Joined: 7/24/2015
Posts: 3020

Many people wonder and ask about why people dementia and Alzheimer's can be so moody and aggressive.  I think it helps understand the mechanics behind why something happens....because when you know that, often, the way deal with it then become self evident. 

Also, because many STILL rx'ing and giving us counter-indicated medications that actually are harmful us (make our dementia worse or increase early death us) for these behaviors.  I think it also helps in understanding, then, why these medications do no real work (mechanically) for solving them.  They do, however, (mechanically) sedate us. 

RE:  Moody, and Aggressive.

I think it helps understand, that as the brain damaged and certain areas it no longer usable that these areas contain things we learned, like social graces and how tie sentences gether or how do something.  What STAYS intact, however, until the end, is the HARD WIRING of the brain: you know, the animalistic part us that protect the body from danger.  So, as such, we become increasingly REACTIONARY.  Come at us sweetly, in ways we can understand, and we respond sweetly, however, come at us all wrong, or in ways more fast than we can understand or process, we react in self defense.  We can no help that.  It have no thing do with reasoning, since it a DIFFERENT part of brain. 

EXAMPLE:  You come take off dad's pants change him.  But you going more fast than dad's brain can process...so, for him, a stranger is coming at him trying take his clothes off, his hard wiring in his brain react....maybe even violently...in an effort protect himself. 

Or, EXAMPLE: in earlier stages, we in pain but do no know it, as that part brain broken, but our hard wiring that tell us get away from pain, in order protect our body, still INTACT....so we pace, are agitated, grumpy, mean, and want go home.  Again, it not that our "reasoner" broken, as this have no thing do with reason, this INATE HARD WIRED RESPONSES that are PROGRAMED IN ALL ANIMAL BRAINS that happens stay intact until the end. 

This why Teepa Snow very helpful in training how approach us, and ways touch us, and talk us....because she expert as how NOT trip that hard wired programming in humans.  

Validation nice also, but that ONLY works with our reasoner.  Which a HIGHER part our brain function. 




Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2017 11:16 AM
Joined: 12/3/2016
Posts: 374

Thanks for the explanation Sun, it's very helpful.  Aggression has become a serious problem for me.  It helps to know that it is the disease and not just my true personality changing.  I wish I could control the aggression and anger but that may not be possible.

Again, thanks for the info.


Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2017 11:25 AM
Joined: 12/3/2016
Posts: 374

MayG, thanks for the link.  Very good explanation of the brain changes.  Sent this link to my husband.  Maybe it will help him to understand the changes in my behavior.


Posted: Friday, January 20, 2017 5:03 PM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

do we lose self control?

I felt I had for a few years but found a way to calm myself. I have found it is possible to learn to watch for signs, learned how to soothe/calm myself (usually includes leaving to be alone and walking).

My guess would be aggression and hostility are from our cognitive capacity being overwhelmed. Was told Use it or Lose it and think it caused me a lot of trouble.

so I quit trying to do more than is easy and I mean really easy and have not had rages or outbursts and my happiness level has increased a great deal.

Most "bad behavior" is misunderstood frustration, pressure from within our own selves or other people pressuring us to perform.

I kept trying to keep up and BOOM. I also take a natural med that calms everything too and helps with sleep. 

stress depletes vitamins and minerals. don't know if that would help you level out. also mini antidepressant is a med I am very edgy without. For me that may be essential to be myself.

Posted: Thursday, February 23, 2017 9:11 PM
Joined: 1/29/2017
Posts: 32

I have a question from the other side:  my DH is in stage 4 ALZ and his moody and aggressive behavior has been increasing quite a bit.  I have been reading more and more about effective ways to handle this, and these methods are sometimes effective.  However there have been  times when I can say something very positive and encouraging and he reacts as if I've just insulted him.  Then no matter what I say or do he's convinced I am the enemy.

Do you ever experience this - or would there be any awareness of this from the perspective of the person with Alzheimer's?  It's very painful from my side as I'm trying my best to care for him and he's treating me like I'm out to get him.  Maybe if I could understand more about what is going through his thought process I could deal with it more effectively.

Posted: Friday, February 24, 2017 6:59 AM
Joined: 7/24/2015
Posts: 3020

Hi MotherOf3,

Welcome this side of forum, thank you for your really excellent question....and giving us the opportunity share our perspectives with you.  <3

For my part...I am going answer it in many ways, all of which hopefully give you a better picture.  A dementia diagnosis is a hard one for a person swallow...so there are a LOT of internal feelings that are go on within the person with a diagnosis dementia....it helps understand that landscape a little bit.  IF he verbal and willing, I highly recommend you encouraging him sign up for Dementia Alliance International's or DAI's support groups....these are video online groups (you may have help remind him and set up for him)...many spouses or caregivers are in the background at these groups....but this will give you insight the emotions we going through - that we may not articulate directly, if that makes sense. 

You have realize that we know we dying - and that hurts, and there a ton of fear....and every progression, and every failure we have - fear....tons of fear.  Which very likely will generate a snappy response. 

Men in particular, are not the best at talking feelings or needs.....or, validating the woman in their life.  That is only likely get worse in dementia....because these were things learned later in life, that drop off of the abilities list rather early on.

It take a lot of cognition function through the day...when every task doing becomes hard do.  If he a doer, then you can be fairly certain that he is functioning at the top of his abilities.  That is inherently hard for another person see - because you can't see how hard we working inside do what you see on the outside. 

Things that I found hard (and would snap at my daughter for)...it very hard for me hold a though in head and communicate it same time (like, trying answer a question be asked of me)...and ANY interruption like blank it all out of my brain.  The harder I am hanging on that thought that I am trying so hard say - the more likely I am snap.

Or...if I am trying tell her one thing (and I usually have talk around something, direct seems impossible for me these days)...and she responds like she knows, but doesn't know - I am mad. Not at her particularly, but because I failed - and it highly frightening for me that I need her know what I am saying and she doesn't.  In 1000 ways, I need her read my mind. 

The other big thing that happen in dementia care....and is off putting most people with dementia (and our ability cope with it will vary along a spectrum)....is that you both likely used be a couple...and now that he dx'd...you likely look at him a little differently, like this other....almost alien creature that you trying understand.  Sorry, I don't have better words describe that.  As much as I felt that after my dx'd and wrote about it - I find myself doing that my granddaughter with her autism dx...like now I am looking at her brain in a new way.  I hate that - but that the way we humans are.  BUT, the person dementia FEELS that as a separation or disconnection.  So comments from you from the disconnection - like, I am trying be positive, will evoke rage at the disconnection - because we desperately need be the SAME person for you.  I mean, dementia will take from us many important things - but that it needlessly changes our relationships is very hurtful.  Most people can no longer articulate that...and may have never been able first place.  But women with dementia talk about it a lot.  yeah, now that I think about it - I don't think that I have ever heard a man with dementia talk about the changing of relationships...but I do see them change in relationship their wives....it almost like they do not allow themselves the emotional grieving and just thank their wives stay with them.   Women are fairly articulate on the other hand of not liking the role changes, and relationship changes that take place.  I am sure both don't like it...we just different in our abilities talk about it. 

Like for me...I need know that I am still valued as a mom, or a friend, or as a member of society...I need know that I still have something contribute, and that what I contribute is valuable.  And I am painfully aware of ALL my losses skills...I know I am a bare shadow of what I was before dementia seized my life from me...but my personality is still in here, my heart still in here, my desire help and contribute still in here.  But yes...when people come at me like - you did not say this right - I am likely all over them.  Because not only did I know that, and could not help it - it the best can do....but that the person did not hear what I was TRYING say, or my heart in things, or that I was trying help - again, that disconnect...and how I become a non-person in people's view....and instead become a compilation of flaws.  Instead, I become dementia...rather than me.  So I would say, a lot of validation that he still the love of your life - in the same way that he always was.  I am a little less able articulate that now...but as we become dis-abled and impaired...our core self did not change, our needs for personhood did not change, and indeed stay very much the same. 

In addition, men very much need take care of you.  I sort of have the same issue as I manage my house.  I desperately need my daughter take on some the roles....but she never quite do them right.  This evokes a lot of fear...which likely comes out as anger. I need her be confident about doing it also...and she is naturally nervous do thing first time....but I am internally gritting my teeth, want scream at her....I need her confidence so I can be confident at letting it go.  Until she can say, I got this....I can't rest, and I have keep managing it. 

And realize that no one wrote us a how do manual for how allow others do for us.  No one told us how make any of this ok.  And the more CGs say/think/feel this not ok - the less able we are be able make it ok within ourselves what is happening us.  We need feel that this is ok....that it ok we couldn't do something.  If you view our mistake and have sorrow in your eyes - we will view it as not only not ok, but that we are hurting you....which cause us further retreat. 

I tried since I came this forum and saw the disconnect between CGs and how we feel...bridge these worlds.  I am infinitely less articulate now...and infinitely less able communicate my thoughts on this.  But I still feel we need a way bridge the disconnect between the 2 worlds. 

Anyways, I feel like I did not really answer the question...I will try again later...but hopefully something I said helped in some way...and hopefully others will chime in with their insights as well.



Mimi S.
Posted: Friday, February 24, 2017 9:51 AM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 7027

Hi Mother of 3 and grandma Lynda.
What was the process of diagnosis? Did it include a several hour long neuro-cognitive test? If not, that should be done to try to figure out the particular type of dementia. This is especially important if behavior is a factor in how the disease is displaying at a fairly early stage.  If it was, read the report carefully, or call the person in charge of that testing and ask if FTD could be involved.  It's quite common to have more than one type of dementia present.


I do believe the Validation Method espoused by Naomi Feil is very useful.  Do check at your library for any book of hers with the word Validation in the title.
Iris L.
Posted: Friday, February 24, 2017 10:31 AM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18723

Mother of 3--you say your DH is convinced that you are his enemy.  Exactly what does that mean?  You mention trying to manage his behavior but you don't mention discussing your concerns with him.  My first thought is that he has anosognosia, and he is not aware of what is at the basis of your concerns, which is his dementia.  He naturally would become irritated if you keep talking about something that he is unaware of or doesn't believe exists.  Have you read the article about anosognosia?


At the same time, PWDs (persons with dementia) can become irritated when the world is moving faster than they are.  To use an old metaphor, the world is moving at 78 rpms and he is moving at 33 1/3 rpms.  

One of the things that used to be very irritating for me, when I was married, was constant questions.  For example, my husband would say, "Do you remember this person?" right in front of the acquaintance.  I would stammer, "Yes, of course, how nice to see you again," when I really didn't remember that person at all.  I always asked my husband to just re-introduce me, instead of embarrassing me and the other person.  But he never seemed to get it, because he was such a social guy, and remembered everyone, no matter how long ago he met them, or how brief the encounter.

Often, PWDs can retain an emotion long after the incident that caused the emotion has passed. So your DH may continue to be irritated for some time later, after an irritating incident that might have happened in the morning.  There was an experiment that was done that I posted about, but I don't know where those notes are.

My suggestions to you are to observe to see if your DH has anosognosia, to lessen unanswerable questions, and to limit irritations.  A good book to read is "Creating Moments of Joy" by Jolene Brackey.

Best wishes to you and to your husband.

Iris L.

Mimi S.
Posted: Friday, February 24, 2017 6:41 PM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 7027

Thanks for reminding us about Creating Moments of  Joy.  

It is such a good book and easy to read. The title should be everyone's motto.Definitely worth the price.

Posted: Saturday, February 25, 2017 6:57 AM
Joined: 7/24/2015
Posts: 3020

I was going add...someone shared a book called, The Best Friend's Guide Alzheimer's Care that she really liked...and she liked how her son was using it care for her.  So I might recommend that as well. 

As well, if you are interested in the experience of what it like have, Christine Bryden's Dancing With Dementia is an excellent read.  I think I copied about half the pages and handed it my providers and said - there, it like that - that is what I have been trying say you. 

Here are also a couple relationship videos that may help as well....about reclaiming being truly present with your spouse and compassionate listening (which can get lost in caretaking responsibilities).

The 4 Mantra For Relationship...and True Presence.


Compassionate Listening


Anyways...hope that helps.



Posted: Monday, February 27, 2017 7:35 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408

Iris wrote: Often, PWDs can retain an emotion long after the incident that caused the emotion has passed. So your DH may continue to be irritated for some time later, after an irritating incident that might have happened in the morning.  There was an experiment that was done that I posted about, but I don't know where those notes are.

I agree I carry emotions longer than I used to. The processing of emotions and feelings is in slow motion and recovery time is longer. 

Posted: Saturday, March 4, 2017 5:08 PM
Joined: 11/18/2016
Posts: 451

Well that makes sense why I feel stuck in this angry , bitter place. I have a hard time letting go of things, I'm more a nagger, a lecturer and becoming a little 'know it all'. I don't like this person but I don't know how to make her go away.
Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2017 10:30 AM
Joined: 5/4/2017
Posts: 45

Thank you so much.... your posting has touched me and helped me understand what my husband must be going through.  He never shares his feelings   Thanks to you I now can try and help him the way he needs help.
Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 8:30 AM
Joined: 11/28/2017
Posts: 1

I have aggression from frustration. I do find validation calms me down. I learned it in a workshop for caregivers of borderline teens. My frustration is from no longer being able to get healthy support, manage my finances and being given medications that make me sick the explanation of the mechanism is very helpful. I try to do PTSD calming exercises as this is also a "dinosaur brain" issue. Thanks
Mimi S.
Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 9:08 AM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 7027

Welcome to our world, Kiitaplan. We’re so glad you found us.

Do tell us more about yourself and your process f diagnosis. 

How e you using Validation to calm yourself down??

It’s hard to find  support system for our selves. Some sates, like PA have a monthly call in. Call your loclal chapter. It’s good to get to know the staff. Our help line 1-800-272-3900 can give you the local #. Do call the local office during normal business hours,

I have my regular moth expenses either added to  credit cartd or directly deducted from my bank account.

Have you seen a Certified Elder Law Attorney to get your medical and financial affairs in order?

Have you heard about what many of us PWD call Best Practices?

There are other things you can do to help slow down the course of this disease, including:

(1) Sticking as closely as you can to a Mediterranean diet (with wine and nuts), which has been shown to help prevent/delay the onset of AD, and also slow its progression. See:

Basically, it involves:

- High intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and cereals

- High intake of unsaturated fatty acids (mostly in the form of olive oil)

- Low intake of saturated fatty acids

- Moderately high intake of fish

- Low-to-moderate intake of dairy products (mostly cheese or yogurt)

- Low intake of meat and poultry

- A regular but moderate amount of ethanol, primarily in the form of wine and generally during meal.

To that, I would add eating a quarter cup of nuts every day -- quite a few studies have found they're very good for you. 

Also, olive oil is very good for salad dressings etc, but not so much so for cooking especially at higher temps. Use canola oil for that, or a mix of the two. (I've seen plenty of products that contain olive and canola oils.)

Avoid hydrogenated fats and trans fats like the plague.

(I also take Omega 3 and antioxidants.)

(2) Lots of physical exercise ... there is quite a bit of evidence it can help prevent/delay onset. (As strenuous as possible. Recent research shows such build new brain cells!)

(3) Lots of exercise for the brain -- activities that involve learning something new. I've seen some reports that learning new things coupled with using a computer can be particularly helpful.  (A variety is best. Figure out what stretches your mind but is not so hard you are frustrated.)

(4) Socialization, doing things with friends and family. (Most of us do not do well in large and/or noisy groups.)

(5) Plenty of rest. 

(6) NO SMOKING!!! and avoid air pollution as much as possible.

(7) Do whatever you can do to minimize stress.

(And take meds as directed.)

Do stay with us.

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