Health and Fitness

Anger management in elder people

With ageing, anger can become a more common and challenging emotion to manage. Physical and mental health may become more fragile, making one more vulnerable to the harmful effects of chronic anger. Understanding the root cause of anger is crucial to anger management in elder people. 

Why anger may increase with age?

Anger in older adults can be more intense and frequent. Physical and cognitive health decline, loss of independence are sources of emotional stress. They provoke feelings of frustration, affecting their physical, mental, and social health. Hence it becomes more imperative to address anger management in elder people. The complex and multifaceted reasons for anger issues include:

Chronic health issues

Older adults suffering from chronic pain, physical disabilities, and dementia face day-to-day challenges. Physical and cognitive health challenges can lead to irritability, frustration, and anger.

Emotional and Psychological Factors

Sudden loss of spouse or friends, fear of death, and social isolation often lead to loneliness in the advanced years. These emotional and psychological changes trigger feelings of depression. And consequently, anger and outburst, especially if they lack emotional support.

Hormonal imbalances

Stress, poor nutrition, and inadequate sleep can cause hormonal imbalances. Also, changes in testosterone levels in men and estrogen levels in women can lead to depression and mood swings.

Vision or hearing loss

Struggling to hear or see can lead to difficulty communicating with loved ones. It can cause anger and resentment as the elderly may feel misunderstood or ignored.

Medications

Commonly prescribed medicines for older adults include steroids, sedatives, and blood pressure medications. Side effects of these medicines can cause mood changes and increase the risk of anger.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Studies have linked deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals to mood and behaviour. Lack of vitamins B12, D, and magnesium can cause mood swings, paranoia, irritability, and confusion, in older adults.

Signs of anger

Occasional outbursts or moments of impatience don’t necessarily imply an anger problem. But persistent and regular issues with anger may need attention and intervention. Recognizing the signs is crucial for effective anger management in elder people. Some common signs include:

  • Frequent outbursts, frustration, or irritability not proportionate to the situation
  • Physical aggression towards others or objects
  • Increase in heart rate and breathing
  • Inability to communicate or refusal to cooperate with others
  • Increased complaints about daily events or small inconveniences
  • Withdrawal from social situations and activities
  • Changes in sleep patterns or difficulty sleeping
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism
  • Chronic pain or illness triggering frustration and irritability
  • Unwillingness to compromise or consider others’ perspectives

Effects of anger

Anger is a universal and complex emotion. If controlled, anger can be a normal and healthy emotion. Excessive anger can have serious consequences, especially among older adults. A study published in Psychology and Aging found that anger, more than sadness in older adults is linked to chronic illnesses. Effects of anger are multi-fold that include:

Physical health

Operating at high levels of stress and anger all the time can be detrimental to health. It can lead to heart disease, diabetes, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Moreover, the constant release of stress hormones can take a toll on the body, leading to a decreased ability to fight off diseases.

Mental health

Chronic anger consumes significant mental energy, leading to a negative outlook on life. It can also lead to stress, depression, and other mental health problems. Additionally, it can affect one’s self-esteem and sense of control.

Relationships

Unresolved anger can lead to resentment and bitterness towards loved ones. This may result in long-lasting emotional scars. Using harsh or offensive language can make it difficult for family members and caregivers to feel comfortable around them. The elderly may also feel isolated if their anger causes them to push away those closest to them.

Which foods decrease anger?

Studies have found a link between diet and mental health, including anger management in elder people.  Yet, there is no magical food that can completely eliminate anger. Incorporating certain foods into a diet may help decrease irritability and promote well-being. It’s all about following a healthy and balanced diet that includes foods rich in nutrients.

Protein matters

Choose high-quality proteins such as lean meats, fish, eggs, yogurt, and tofu. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are responsible for regulating our thoughts and emotions. Additionally, proteins aid in stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Eat Healthy fats

For a healthy fat intake, include olives, avocado, nuts (such as walnuts and almonds), seeds (such as flax and chia seeds), and oily fish like salmon and tuna. These foods are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbs promote the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. Whole-grain bread, brown rice, fruits and vegetables, and sweet potatoes are all excellent sources of complex carbs.

Antioxidants

Consuming foods like berries and leafy greens that are high in antioxidants have a positive impact on mental health. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce stress levels.

To optimize brain health, stay hydrated and check caffeine intake. Dietary changes alone may not be enough to manage anger issues in older adults. Consider seeking professional guidance for managing chronic anger management in elder people.

What organ is most affected by anger?

According to traditional Chinese medicine, most organs have a link with specific emotions. The emotion of anger is associated with choleric humor, which causes resentment and irritability. This emotion is produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder that contains the digestive juice, bile. Thus anger is believed to affect the liver the most.

Excessive anger disrupts the natural flow of energy in the liver, causing a blockage. It results in heat generation and an increase in temperature. This manifests as a red face, bloodshot eyes, and even headaches and hypertension. Furthermore, prolonged anger can cause adverse effects on other organs such as the stomach and spleen.

The liver is the prime detoxification organ responsible for filtering toxins and waste from the body. Hence, it is necessary to understand the connection between anger and its effect on the liver. By managing anger and reducing its impact on the liver, we can take steps towards promoting health and well-being.

Anger management tips

Anger is a normal emotion that everyone experiences. The goal of anger management in elder people is not to eliminate anger, but rather help them cope with their emotions in a positive way. Here are a few tips to stop escalating the emotion further.

Identify the cause

The first step is identifying the situations, people, or events that trigger their anger. Possible triggers may be losing independence, feeling misunderstood, or health issues. Identifying underlying causes can help reduce irrational feelings of anger.

Be patient with dementia patients

Dealing with anger issues in dementia patients is different. The focus shifts towards managing the obvious behaviors associated with dementia. Reassurance while maintaining a calm and structured environment may help manage the situation.

Engage in physical activity

Physical activity releases endorphins that promote positive feelings. It can help release built-up tension, which could otherwise result in an outburst. Taking a short walk helps counteract rising tension.

Practice relaxation techniques

Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and music therapy are excellent mindful techniques.  They help calm the part of the brain that controls emotional regulation. One technique used in deep breathing is a slow count to ten. Doing this allows the rational mind to catch up with emotions.

Adopt healthy lifestyle habits

Eating a well-balanced diet, sleeping enough, and being active can help seniors manage their anger and reduce stress. Fit and active life promotes positive feelings and acts as a healthy outlet for anger and frustration.

Use humor

Humor can be an effective way to diffuse tension and anger. As they say, “Laughter is the best medicine,” and for a good reason. Research has shown that laughter releases endorphins. These hormones govern happiness and are natural mood boosters.

Use natural or alternative remedies

Herbal supplements, aromatherapy, and massage are a few examples of natural approaches. These help ease feelings of anger and promote relaxation. For instance, lavender oil has calming properties that reduces anxiety and depression. Chamomile tea (herbal) is known to soothe the nerves.

Seek professional help

If anger spirals out of control and causes distress, identify the root cause with the help of professionals. Consider taking to your loved one to seek professional anger management counseling.

Benefits of anger management in elder people

Anger has a ripple effect on various facets of life. From mental and physical health to strained relationships, anger issues have a profound impact. Here are the benefits of anger management in elder people:

Improved emotional well-being and self-awareness

Anger management helps older adults regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behavior. They can prevent angry outbursts that leave them feeling out of control. Developing self-awareness helps older adults identify triggers that cause their anger. This can result in reduced stress and depression and a more positive outlook on life.

Better physical health

Anger can lead to issues like hypertension, muscle pain, headaches, and difficulty sleeping. These are harmful and may trigger other health concerns. Managing anger is the best way to avoid complications and maintain better health.

Improved relationships

Learning how to manage anger or frustrations can improve familial and social relationships. As we age, the relationships we have become increasingly vital to our well-being. Being able to manage our emotions can ensure that our relationships stay healthy and positive.

Conclusion

Anger management in elder people starts with understanding what causes outbursts. Chronic and persistent anger can wreak havoc on physical health, well-being, and relationships. There are techniques to manage and control anger, so it does not become destructive. It’s also important to seek professional help when needed.

Caring for an elderly loved one is fulfilling but a challenging task for anyone. The responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but assistance is available. Contact SenOcare at +91 8800 700 100 or email at info@senocare.in for more details on our customized eldercare plans.

You may even like to read: Want To Care For Your Elderly Parents In A Private Home Near You?

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