Anger and Seniors


How to Cope with Anger in the Elderly

Anger. It’s not uncommon for people to become irritable, frustrated, angry, or downright mean as we age. As a caregiver, or someone living with an elderly person, you may have noticed such behavior in your senior loved one. It can make you irritable, frustrated, and angry at times yourself. It’s helpful to understand potential causes of senior anger and ways in which to cope.

Potential Causes of Anger in the Elderly

There are a great number of reasons we may become more irritable as we age.

A few of the more common reasons are:

  • Depression – According to the American Psychological Association (APA), depression is becoming more common among older adults.
  • Health Issues – It’s human nature to feel cranky when we’re not feeling well or when we are in pain.
  • The Aging Process – Some older people rage against the inevitable nature of aging and death. Such feelings are often a natural part of the human condition.
  • Financial Stress – In addition to the feelings of worthlessness, retirees sometimes feel stressed about living on a fixed income, which can often be difficult.
  • Physical Changes – Natural changes in our bodies as we age can cause crankiness. The natural decrease in testosterone in men, for example, can cause an increase in irritability. Menopause also affects women in a similar manner due to hormonal changes.
  • MedicinesCertain medications prescribed for various conditions can cause negative side effects such feelings as sadness, despair, anger, and discouragement.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease – The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.

Ways to Cope with Anger in the Elderly

It’s not easy to deal with a person who’s often cranky or angry, but there are a number of actions you can take to help you cope:

  • Get Information.

    Get as much information as you can about an older person’s medical condition. Understanding your senior’s condition and what they’re going through is key to coming to terms with their behavior issues.
  • Don’t Take It Personally.

    Once you’re aware of the senior’s condition, it will go a long way to helping you step back and assess the situation and understand it’s not personal. In many ways the situation is not much different than being the target of a child who lashes out when afraid, hurt, or upset. Keeping the source in perspective can be very helpful.
  • Alleviate Pain.

    If the elderly person is cranky due to pain, help them get to the doctor for treatment to reduce the pain.
  • Communicate.

    Ask your senior loved one why they’re feeling cranky or in a bad mood. Acknowledging their feelings can work to calm them down while helping to provide you with an understanding.
  • Remain Positive.

    Try to look for the positive attributes of the senior citizen involved. If you know the person, it will be easy to remember his or her good qualities. It also helps to put yourself in their shoes whenever you feel aggravated. It may help you see why they might be angry or irritable.
  • Take Breaks.

    If you feel like you’re reaching the end of your rope, use that as a warning sign that you need to take a break and rest. Patience typically wears thin when you’re worn out and exhausted. It’s important to care for yourself so you can be your best for your loved one when they need you most.

If you’re a caregiver for a senior who’s often angry, irritable, or in pain, it may be time for them to receive 24/7 professional care at a senior residence. If your senior is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, there are a great number of senior living options available to help them as well, including senior residences with alzheimer’s specialty services.

To begin your search for senior living residences, visit There you can easily find a senior apartment, independent-living, assisted-living, or other continuing-care community where seniors can remain safe and in great care.

If you would like free personalized help finding senior housing in your area, call the information specialists at (888) WE-ASSIST.


BLOG Date: January 3, 2013

Writer: Ryan Allen