Aggressive Behavior in Advanced Alzheimer´s Disease: Differences between Relatives' and Professional Caregivers' Attributions

By Cornelia R. Karger.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 5, 2015 $US5.00

The objective of this qualitative study was to gain insight into caregivers’ understanding of the causes of aggressive behavior and their beliefs about how to prevent and manage aggressions. A total of six focus group sessions were conducted in Germany with 20 family members and 17 professional caregivers. Results indicated that both groups held misconceptions about the origins of aggressive behavior. Relatives tend to attribute aggressive behavior to stable, illness-related factors (personality change) overlooking situational factors as causes of aggressions and they feel powerless to prevent or manage such behavior. According to the frustration-aggression hypothesis, professional caregivers attribute aggressions to unstable, external factors (environment, poor communication) or unstable, internal factors (pain). They underestimate the emotional regulation deficits of the disease and tend to overestimate their own ability to prevent aggressive behavior. The findings of the study suggest that both family members and professional caregivers would benefit from training to help them distinguish behavior and dysfunction that are illness-related from those that are not in order to maximize the well-being of the patient and minimize the stress experienced by the caregiver.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s, Aggressive Behavior, Caregivers’ Attributions

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 5, Issue 3, September 2015, pp.15-21. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 5, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 268.727KB)).

Cornelia R. Karger

Institute of Neurosciences and Medicine (INM-8), Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Jülich, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Cornelia R. Karger is affiliated with Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH. Her current research topics are present and future developments in medicine and neuroscience.