She was not getting aggitated because she was on the Risperidone which is an antipsychotic used for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The brain damage that dementia patients creates a situation similar to these disorders. I had a longer half life so it's effective for quite some time after dosage. Dad was on it for a while but was taken off because of the potential dehydration which is a side effect. At that point we were having problems with him and UTIs due to dehydration. We also realized that most of the upset was warrented. It was Mom acting out... so we medicated her instead. There is new research that shows potential heart problems when used for dementia patients with a history of heart problem as well. It may not be the best choice of medication but it does work for the intended purpose and you have to weigh the side effects against the benefits. Most dementia patients are not going to have long term effect, such as the heart problems. I do know there are usually no "withdrawal" from Risperidone in the elderly.
It is obvious from what you describe that she needs something. I am not a big fan of medicating for emtional problems either but with dementia, the portions of the brain that are used for reason, logic, self control, are usually damaged first. Add with that decreasing short term memory so they do not understand the world around them. Yes, they are aggitated, they are scared, and they are angry (these are honest feelings)..... but they do not have the awareness to understand why nor the cognitive ability to deal with it. When I get out of sorts my daughter or best friend can have a "come to jesus revival" with me and I can understand what is happening. When the brain is clouded by tangles and plaque they don't have that ability. They just stay in that dark state of confusion combined with depression, paranoid, anger, and aggression. What a horrible way to live. That is why medication is helpful.
I resisted psychological medication for my parents for a long time. Now they are both on multiple medications to control paranioa, anxiety, and/or depression. They each have their own set of problem and own medication that fits. I will say, now that their medication is adequately adjusted they are, for the most part, much happier than they were before. The medication is for them, to give them some quality of life despite the cognitive problems.
I thought the same thing about Mom and Dad at AL. But later I realized that the geriatric specialist they have on staff really knew what she was doing. She was trying different medication, monitoring their behavior and side effects, and the making adjustments as needed. Mom even required a trip to a geriatric psychiatrist. But the doctor finally hit on the right combination.
What I would suggest is to have a good heart to heart discussion with her doctor. Find out what the doctor's philosophy and intentions are. Let the doctor know your wishes. Then perhaps you can come to a compromise that will be benficial to you both.
Hope you find the answers you search for
Remember, there is no right or wrong with dementia. It's just doing the very best you can, at the moment, with the information you have. When the moment changes and the information reveals you can always do something different... or stay on the track you are on.