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Men and Dementia: What the Research Shows

Men and Dementia: What the Research Shows

Women are still outliving men. While the gap has narrowed somewhat in recent years, life expectancy for women is 80.1 years of age compared with just 78.7 for their male counterparts.  A study released in the fall of 2014 revealed an interesting trend related to those demographics. 

Even though female residents outnumber men in assisted living communities on the whole, more men are moving in to memory care programs. In fact, men are moving in to dementia care communities at a rate that is 14% faster than women. 

What’s behind this difference?

Researchers took a look at memory care admissions between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2014. They found that when men move to a memory care community:

  • 8% of the time it was because their family caregivers were unable to manage their wandering.
  • 30% of the time the move was the result of the senior’s aggressive behavior with family and caregivers. 

Both of these behaviors can be tough to manage at home, especially if the caregiver is a spouse who might be older and frailer herself.

Possible Causes of Aggression and Wandering in Adults with Alzheimer’s

So many issues related to Alzheimer’s remain a mystery to researchers. This makes it hard to say definitely what might trigger anger, aggression, and wandering in an adult with Alzheimer’s disease. But experts believe there are a few likely causes: 

  • Unfamiliar environment: As the disease progresses, a once familiar environment can look strange and new to an adult with Alzheimer’s. It can lead to wandering, agitation, and aggression.
  • Overstimulation: Adults with Alzheimer’s disease have trouble processing too much information at one time. A particularly noisy, hectic environment can trigger an angry outburst. 
  • Fatigue: Because chronic sleep problems are common among people with Alzheimer’s disease, they often feel fatigued. If the older adult has an overly busy day on top of a lack of sleep, they may act aggressively or wander simply from exhaustion and the need to find a peaceful place to rest.
  • Unmet needs: When a person with Alzheimer’s isn’t able to communicate what they need, they can become frustrated and act aggressively. They might wander in hopes of finding what they need, such as a bathroom, food or water.
  • Undiagnosed pain: An adult with Alzheimer’s who has lost their verbal communication skills might be experiencing pain but be unable to convey that. It can lead to pacing, agitation, and aggression.

Memory Care at Five Star Senior Living Communities

If your family is having a difficult time keeping a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s safe at home, we can help. Five Star’s innovative Bridge to Rediscovery memory care program utilizes Montessori-Based Dementia Programming (MBDP) to create an environment where adults with Alzheimer’s can flourish. Call us today to learn more!

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