What’s Causing Sudden Anger in My Aging Loved One?

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What Can Cause an Angry Outburst in Seniors in Des Moines, IA

Anger is a perplexing emotion for family caregivers to decipher when their senior loved ones lash out. Your loved one may suddenly begin to exhibit anger when you thought everything was fine, or he or she may tend to be in a foul mood at a specific time of day. Understanding what can cause sudden anger in seniors can help you figure out what you can do to bring your loved one back to a better mood.

Cognitive Decline & Dementia

Cognitive decline can cause aging adults to have sudden outbursts of anger. Symptoms of cognitive decline include memory loss and difficulty understanding basic information. Your loved one might become upset if he or she can’t recall a particular word or remember the name of a familiar place. Your loved one’s anger could also be a sign of dementia, and it’s essential to have him or her evaluated by a physician if you notice serious signs of cognitive decline. No matter what’s causing your loved one’s outbursts, always respond with compassion and empathy. Don’t speak to him or her in a condescending tone, and try calming techniques, such as playing soothing music.  Symptoms such as agitation, confusion, anger, and frustration are common in elderly people with dementia. Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Des Moines seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

Physical Discomfort

Depending on your parent’s abilities, he or she might not always be able to verbally express when something is wrong. For instance, he or she may be unsure how to describe something as vague as being hungry or having general pain that covers a large part of his or her body. Observe your loved one for signs of physical discomfort, such as squirming in a chair or tugging at his or her clothing. You might be able to ask questions to determine what’s causing the pain.


Seniors may act out if they get bored. Having nothing to keep them mentally occupied could cause them to ruminate on negative thoughts. Your loved one may also begin to act up to get your attention. Check to see if your loved one needs something to do. Offering a new activity that involves you or a professional caregiver can focus your loved one’s mind on positive things.


Aging adults often encounter many frustrations throughout the day. Some may be mad because they can’t get their shirt buttons properly fastened, while others might be frustrated by something as simple as trying to tell their caregivers they’re hungry. Watch to see what your loved one was doing when he or she got mad so you can find ways to make the task easier. Staying calm as you work to find a solution may ease your loved one’s frustration. The physical and cognitive challenges that accompany aging can often leave aging adults unable to manage everyday tasks, which can put their safety and health at risk. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elderly home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Power Conflicts

At times, old relationship patterns come into play. Your parent may resent you trying to tell him or her what to do or balk at you invading his or her sense of privacy by trying to help with bathing. If you suspect a power play is at work, bringing in another caregiver who isn’t related may end the conflict.

Fatigue & Hunger

Your loved one’s general physical health also affects his or her mood. Some seniors, especially those with dementia, tend to exhibit more anger during the late evening hours when they’re tired and likely to be waiting for dinner. If your loved one’s anger occurs around sundown, you may be able to head it off by having him or her take a short nap or engage in quiet time after lunch. A light mid-afternoon snack may also keep your loved one’s blood sugar levels under control so he or she feels less cranky.  Caring for an aging loved one is a challenging task for anyone. The responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but help is available. Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Des Moines senior home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. Contact one of our experienced Care Managers today at (515) 264-2438 to learn more about our reliable in-home care services.


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