Differences in aggression among people with dementia

Study shows that one-third of patients with the diagnosis Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia were physically aggressive towards healthcare staff, other patients, relatives, animals and complete strangers. | via Science Daily

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Objective

To investigate the prevalence of physical aggression among patients with dementia of different types and to analyze potential differences in clinical traits, in terms of singular or repetitive behavior and occurrence in early or late stage of the disease. We also aimed at examining against whom the physical aggression was exerted.

Methods

We included 281 cases with a neuropathological dementia diagnosis from the brain bank at the Department of Pathology, Lund University, for this retrospective medical records review. The study covers cases with a post-mortem examination performed between 1967 and 2013.

Results

Of the 281 patients studied, 97 (35%) patients had a history of exerting physical aggression during the course of their disease. The patients with frontotemporal dementia exerted physical aggression earlier in the course of their disease than Alzheimer’s disease patients. The most frequent victims of the patients’ physical aggression were health staff and other patients. The aggression also affected family members as well as (to the demented patient) unknown people. The frequency of the physical aggression differed among the different diagnostic groups; frontotemporal dementia patients exhibiting a higher physical aggression frequency score than did Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Conclusions

The patterns of manifested physical aggression thus differ between the frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease patient groups in this study. Knowledge about such differences may be of value in decision making in patient care.

Full reference: Madeleine Liljegren, Maria Landqvist Waldö, Elisabet Englund. Physical aggression among patients with dementia, neuropathologically confirmed post-mortem. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2017

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