Using medication to deal with aggression

My wife has Alzheimer’s disease and has been shouting at me, and went to strike me last week. We went to see the doctor as I thought she may have an infection. The doctor said there was no infection and has prescribed anti-psychotic medication. I am really worried about this. Should I give them to her?

Checking for an infection when a person’s behaviour changes is absolutely the right thing to do. Infection can be a cause for increased confusion, disorientation and agitation.

You don’t mention if the doctor GP checked with you about when your wife was shouting at you, or why she went to strike you. Writing down what happened and what was said can be helpful in this situation as she may have felt frightened or have not understood fully what you were trying to do.

Looking for ‘triggers’ to the behaviour may help you understand things from her point of view, so that you can change how you communicate with her or change the routine or a task to help her keep pace with you and understand what is expected of her.

You might be tired or getting frustrated and may need a break yourself (respite) or some extra support. Your wife will be able to sense when you are tired and upset and she will have a tendency to mirror your emotions. It sounds like it is a stressful time for you both, you may like to seek some counselling to help regain some control over the situation.

Anti-psychotic medication can be helpful when the person with dementia has false beliefs or hallucinations which are making them distressed, angry or aggressive. The medication should only be given in very small doses, for a short space of time, and be carefully monitored by the prescribing GP on a regular basis. If you remain concerned go back to the GP and talk about this.