Differences in Aggression Among People with Dementia

Diseases of the brain often have a severe impact on behavior, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as frontotemporal dementia, are no exceptions. In a study conducted by Lund University in Sweden, about a third of patients with either of the aforementioned diseases exhibited violent behavior. The severity of this behavior varied based on a variety of factors, including the recipient of the violent behavior, the environment in which the incident took place, and whether the acting patient suffered from Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. The researchers found that those suffering from frontotemporal dementia were much more likely to show physically aggressive behavior toward strangers, and that the aggression had the potential to be more severe, and to be acted out with little or no provocation. However, with those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, physically aggressive behavior is more commonly exhibited when the patient is approached too quickly. The researchers attributed much of these results to the precise location of the diseases within the brain. Damage associated with frontotemporal dementia is located in the front of the brain, where qualities such as empathy and impulse control are derived; whereas with Alzheimer’s disease, the damage is primarily in the back of the brain, where memory, as well as spacial and temporal awareness are controlled.

Key Points:

  • 1People with dementia often are physically aggressive.
  • 2Physical aggression can happen without any provocation.
  • 3Those suffering from Alzheimer’s may be aggresive to strangers, family members, care staff or even animals.

If you notice socially deviant or criminal behaviour in a person who has previously acted normally, you should be attentive and help the person get examined by a physician, as it could be the first sign of dementia.

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