Alzheimer's aggression can be threatening

Jan. 13, 2009 at 11:47 PM
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TORONTO, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Alzheimer's symptoms such as agitation and aggression are common, but take a significant toll on primary caregivers, Canadian researchers say.

The survey, conducted for the Alzheimer's Foundation for Caregiving in Canada, found the majority of those who provide care for people afflicted with the mind-robbing disease had observed agitation among them and more than one-third had observed aggression.

Caregivers also reported a high incidence of disorientation and mood swings, while almost 23 percent had felt scared or threatened by the individual's behaviors.

More than two-thirds of caregivers were comfortable discussing symptoms such as disorientation and mood swings with people outside their immediate family. However, the comfort level fell significantly for other symptoms, including aggression, with 57 percent indicating that being candid about some symptoms causes more discomfort than discussing other ones.

Caregivers experience physical changes: 47 percent report fatigue, 36 percent had difficulty sleeping, 23 percent had headaches, 21 percent report back pain and 19 percent experienced weight gain.

"Stigma, denial, embarrassment and other issues often restrain caregivers," Taras Rohatyn, president of the Alzheimer's Foundation for Caregiving in Canada.

Harris/Decima conducted the online survey of 509 caregivers from Oct. 27 to Nov. 11. No margin of error was provided.

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