A person with Alzheimer’s may feel anxious or agitated. He or she may become restless, causing a need to move around or pace, or become upset in certain places or when focused on specific details.
Possible causes of agitation
Anxiety and agitation may be caused by a number of different medical conditions, medication interactions or by any circumstances that worsen the person’s ability to think. Ultimately, the person with dementia is biologically experiencing a profound loss of their ability to negotiate new information and stimulus. It is a direct result of the disease.
Situations that may lead to agitation include:
• Moving to a new residence or nursing home
• Changes in environment, such as travel, hospitalization or the presence of houseguests
• Changes in caregiver arrangements
• Misperceived threats
• Fear and fatigue resulting from trying to make sense out of a confusing world
Treating Behavioral Symptoms
Anyone experiencing behavioral symptoms should receive a thorough medical checkup, especially when symptoms appear suddenly. Treatment depends on a careful diagnosis, determining possible causes and the types of behavior the person is experiencing. With proper treatment and intervention, symptoms of agitation can be reduced.
Tips to help prevent agitation
To prevent or reduce agitation:
Create a calm environment.
Remove stressors. This may involve moving the person to a safer or quieter place, or offering a security object, rest or privacy. Try soothing rituals and limiting caffeine use.
Avoid environmental triggers.
Noise, glare and background distraction (such as having the television on) can act as triggers.
Monitor personal comfort.
Check for pain, hunger, thirst, constipation, full bladder, fatigue, infections and skin irritation. Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature. Be sensitive to fears, misperceived threats and frustration with expressing what is wanted.
Simplify tasks and routines.
Provide an opportunity for exercise.
Go for a walk. Garden together. Put on music and dance