Controlling Anger in Older Men

Anger is an important and natural emotion that we all experience from time to time. An anger disorder such as intermittent explosive disorder, or chronic or volatile anger can be destructive and unhealthy and lead to impaired judgement and irrational behaviour. For anger in older men this can be even more the case as it can exacerbate other health concerns that are more prominent for older demographics. Problems involving the human circulatory system such as heart disease, angina, blood pressure, cholesterol and strokes are all more common as we get older as well as being worse in males. This means that older males are already at greater risk of such conditions, as anger can also affect them this makes chronic anger in older men particularly dangerous.

Anger in older men is also particularly common, as getting old can cause anger in itself, being a frustrating and upsetting experience for many. Furthermore, conditions such as arthritis or back pain that result in constant pain are also likely to cause and increase anger. Fortunately anger management techniques can always be effective no matter you age or gender. These are many and varied and it’s simply a matter of finding the technique that works best for you.

The first key to controlling anger in older men is to identify it when it occurs. This can be achieved by paying attention to the physical symptoms of anger – increased heart rate, rapid breathing, perspiration and clenching of the knuckles among others. If you notice these symptoms then you know that you are getting angry and need to take measures to get your heart rate and breathing back under control. If you find it difficult to notice these signs on your own then you should invest in a biofeedback device that can make it easier. ‘Biofeedback’ simply refers to any device that gives you current information regarding your biology – in this case a heart rate or blood pressure. You can get heart rate monitors that you slip onto your wrist or in your pocket that alert you when you’re getting elevated meaning that you’ll always get a warning when your anger levels are rising.

Ways you can then control your anger include going to a ‘happy place’ (an imagined location or scenario where you feel completely calm and at ease), counting to ten, removing yourself from the situation or controlling your breathing – anything that focuses your attention away from the stimulus that’s getting you angry and helps make you calm and collected. Watching your breathing can be particularly effective as this will slow your breathing (obviously) and heart rate on its own. Eventually by using such techniques and carefully monitoring its effect on your heart and breathing, you can essentially learn to indirectly control your own heart rate and ensure that you remain relaxed at all times (at least this is the idea anyway…).

If your anger is chronic and you feel under constant stress from it then you need to address it in a more permanent manner. This can be achieved through making a few lifestyle adjustments that will address anger in older men at the same time as helping other aspects of their health and mood.

First of all it is important to make sure you get lots of sleep – as a lack of sleep can leave people feeling irritable. Again if you suffer from chronic pain or a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea (or your partner does…) then you should have this addressed by a medical expert. Similarly you should also seek medication and treatment for the causes of pain. Anger in older men can also be abated through the practice of relaxing activities and hobbies – anything that focuses the mind, gives a sense of achievement and relaxes the body. Popular activities include gardening or golf and either of these will help leave you feeling calmer during the day.

Exercise and diet are also key areas to address as both can raise mood and help lower cholesterol. Exercising results in the release of the hormones known as endorphins which result in feelings of euphoria and pain relief (this is known as the ‘runner’s high’) so it can also make a great natural antidepressant. Lowering your intake of saturated fats and carbohydrates while increasing consumption of fibre will also help lower cholesterol – which will both improve your mood and prevent the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke should you still experience an angry outburst.

Comments 7
  1. What a pathetic article. You missed the target completely. You wrote a castrating apology crafted upon medical dogma. I am 65, and I'm angry a lot. Why? That's easy to answer: My bullshit bucket is full and I'm tired of ignorant asses like you trying to put more crap in it. I've more than had it. Go dump your silly crap someplace else. I haven't "seen it all" but I've seen a lot. I haven't "done it all" but I've done a lot. And I can smell your fart before you have the frigging audacity to break it my way. I am angry because our social institutions are failing. I expect governance to be poor because it DOES gets worse every year. I expect education to get worse, though one wonders how it manages to annually to accomplish that an produc a worse product at a higher cost. Indeed, teachers and schools have given up on education and now focus on social tinkering (for more pay of course.) Zero tolerance is intolerance and is basically a war against boys. Our schools have become feminized and our society is suffering. Women can't raise boys to be men who are willing to catch bullets for society. Our medical community has created — CREATED — the obesity and type II diabetes epidemics by their high-minded egotistical incompetence. And now we are going to let the Muslims murder humanity with the help of a president who in his book says constitutional rights are impediments to socialism and calls capitalism the energy. What sane person wouldn't be mad? That you think old men are grumpy because of illnesses is such a blatant, eunuch, nescient view of existence. That you parade your stupidity as thought is an insult to those who do think.

    1. I’m A 60 yr old female and I have to agree with Tuba. The world to day is insane. The president is a non caring diaper wearing non American. It makes me angry to see what this country has become. I feel bad for the people that want to start and raise a family this day and age. What happened to the good? Why did the world turn so ugly? I wonder if my parents felt this way when they got older. I have control over my anger but so many do not and I can’t blame them for feeling that way.

  2. The root of rage is selfishness. Selfish people are what I call “I want” people because they are always saying “I want.” They think everything should be done for them and given to them.

  3. Adam Sinicki – As the author of this article, what are your credentials? You obviously are not an M.D. Did you offer this advice with a degree in journalism or communications? Please take that comment as the constructive criticism that it was intended to be.

    I am a woman, but any human being (of either gender) who has experienced anger knows that when you are angry, the last thing you are going to do is check your heart rate and breathing. Getting angry is a perfectly normal passion and an unavoidable aspect of being a human being dealing with other human beings (a.k.a. evolved apes, lol). Unless you are living alone in the woods, you will deal with all kinds of rudeness, stupidity, selfishness, unfairness, immorality, weirdness and general thoughtlessness directed at you by other humans.

    As long as you aren’t physically harming another person (or verbally abusing a family member on a regular basis), then just go ahead and get pissed once in a while. Blowing off steam is a much better choice than burying emotions (which is much more likely to give you a coronary). The reason you are angry is because you perceive yourself or someone you care about as having been wronged or hurt in some way.

    Now there are 2 kinds of anger also: Personal and Social let’s call them. Personal anger is when you are angry with someone you know. Social anger is when you get angry at society, a group, the world or generally speaking, some collective. Personal anger can be tricky because you probably need to deal with this person again. This situation calls for a bit of diplomacy if you can muster the strength to control yourself. If you lose control and say or do something stupid in anger to someone you know, that isn’t ideal, but, hey, you’re human.

    After you’ve vented and calmed down, apologize for losing control and explain calmly how the comments/actions of the other person hurt or frustrated you (which are the primary emotions that cause anger). If they don’t care enough to listen and discuss/acknowledge your feelings, apologize in return for hurting you, and promise not to do it again, then avoid them until they do. Do NOT give in until they respect your feelings. We teach people how to treat us. This is advice for being angry at someone you love or know that you plan on continuing a relationship with.

    The other kind of anger is different. It involves dealing with the outside world of strangers. The world is a complex place full of people with agendas who have been known to lie, cheat and steal in order to achieve their goals (especially people in the media, business and politics). If you find yourself constantly “socially angry”, then you need to stop engaging in whatever is pissing you off on a regular basis, if possible. In Tuba’s case, my prescription would be for him to stop watching the mainstream news (aka propaganda/gossip and no longer actual news), which is inherently designed to raise blood pressure for ratings and socially engineer people into whatever benefits the sponsor paying for ads or the board of directors/owners of the media company. He also needs to avoid social media platforms (aka social confrontation/terrorism platforms).

    If his beef is social/political, depending on his passion level, he has 2 choices: 1. He can simply vote against whatever is making him angry or 2. He can get involved and put his energies to a constructive use – either financially or with his time – to a political campaign that opposes the one ruffling his feathers. I would more broadly advise Tuba to stop being angry at people outside his circle because he has absolutely no control over them. The old saying is true – The only one you can control is yourself!

    Dealing with the unpleasant emotion of anger is a matter of finding ways to heal your own hurt or frustration and be your own best friend sometimes, especially in old age. Make note of what hurts you and subsequently makes you angry and then avoid it if you can! Actually, plan rewarding, pleasant, positive activities for yourself each day. Make yourself a priority even if others don’t.

    If you are able to, leave any situation that you know will be hurtful and go treat yourself for not completely losing control if you have to stay but don’t end up losing your temper. If someone hurts you deliberately and unapologetically, you have my permission to be rude and even loud if it makes you feel better. If the waiter is a rude jerk who doesn’t provide the good service you are paying through the teeth for, then don’t leave a tip (that one is too easy and an old fashioned, civilized remedy that falls under the category of “for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction” – which contrary to popular belief, can be therapeutic because of the “justice” exacted).

    If you are truly fortunate, you are one of the people left who has a relationship with God, Who always listens to your prayers and loves you no matter what.

    Lastly, get a dog. They never make you truly angry (even though they can be annoying occasionally) because they are too cute and they always love you in the end no matter what (because they aren’t “evolved apes” lol). You’d be surprised how much these simple things can do to lift your spirits. Getting old is only hell if you give the devil the satisfaction of lowering yourself into the pit. Hope I made you smile 🙂

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