Are Alzheimer patients aware of their aggressive behavior?

Hincke asked...

My 90 year old father "flew into a fit of rage" over my son's trying to fix the lock bar on the sliding door. He yells, "this is my house! I paid for it. You ask ME if you want to do anything." (my son is 28). I told him that Mother asked him to see if he could fix it. That didn't matter! He paid for the house. He then yelled at my sister because she initiated the whole "fix the door" situation. She cried and had to leave. I then asked Dad about yelling at the two. He knew nothing about what I was talking about. Do Alzheimer patients just black out when the "rage" happens? I can't get a definitive answer!

Expert Answer

Merrily Orsini, MSSW, was a pioneer in the business of providing geriatric care managed in-home care. She currently serves on the board of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and is Chair of the Private Duty Homecare Association. She holds a master's degree in social work and is a nationally known writer and speaker on aging, elder issues, and in-home care.

In order to understand the behavior of someone with a dementia, your question 'Are Alzheimer patients aware of their aggressive behavior?' can best be answered with a deeper understanding of the disease. The part of the brain that understands, and reacts appropriately is diminished. Expecting someone with Alzheimer's to be rational and to remember is an unrealistic expectation.

The entire family needs to read and learn about the disease, how to work with someone with Alzheimer's and what to expect and not expect. There are many wonderful resources that cover these topics, and your life, as well as that of your father, will benefit from some deeper understanding of a) the disease process itself, b) how to live with and care for someone with Alzheimer's disease and c) a support group or some avenue for sharing experiences and learning from each other.

So very sorry that you are having these issues, as it must be painful for all. But, it is more than a "black out" when rage occurs, it is really an inability to have control over actions and reactions, and a process of the disease itself.