When Alzheimer’s Leads to Agitation, How do you Manage?

If your beloved parent or grandparent has Alzheimer’s disease, you know that you have to stay strong. One common symptom of this disorder is agitation. Caregivers may see a mother or father become jittery and apprehensive for no apparent reason. This agitation may lead to shouting, swear words, hitting, kicking, and other physical violence.

Caregiver Deerfield Beach FL - When Alzheimer’s Leads to Agitation, How do you Manage?

Caregiver Deerfield Beach FL – When Alzheimer’s Leads to Agitation, How do you Manage?

Caregivers need to remember that none of this behavior has anything to do with them. That said, it’s a good idea to understand what triggers agitation and how you can calm it.

Causes of agitation for Alzheimer’s disease patients

Change is one of the most obvious and prevalent triggers to avoid. There are two types of change most likely to trigger agitation: changes in environment and changes in personnel.

Moving an Alzheimer’s patient from one place to another is a bad idea and should be avoided if at all possible. Alzheimer’s patients find comfort in sameness, and knowing where everything is provides a sense of safety. A patient may not be able to make sense of a new environment. Confusion about new surroundings can definitely trigger agitation.

Moving an Alzheimer’s patient to a nursing home is a last resort for this reason. Home care agencies are quite adept at handling Alzheimer’s patients who choose to stay in their homes. And home caregiver professionals are trained to keep things comfortable and safe for their clients.

Changes to home design should be introduced slowly and only as needed. Avoid rearranging furniture. Structural modifications, such as grab bars and hospital beds, should be integrated into the home framework as subtly as possible.

Caregivers also need to pay attention to how many people are visiting. This is not the time to introduce a number of new people into your senior’s life. It’s much better to have a short list of people who are allowed to enter, one at a time. Avoid gatherings, even family gatherings in the home of an Alzheimer’s patient.

Every patient is different. You will want to track what causes your individual parent’s agitation. Consider keeping a diary in the home and noting the circumstances surrounding an episode and the time of day and what room the agitation occurred in. If everyone who visits does this, you may be able to identify triggers that are specific to your senior.

How to deal with agitation

Despite your best efforts, Alzheimer’s patients will occasionally get agitated. The latest research suggests that drugs are not the best alternative for relieving this symptom. Distracting a patient often works to calm her down. Here are a few things you should try:

  • Taking a walk outside or a drive. A change of scenery is good therapy, and movement is good for relieving the stress and anger that often accompany Alzheimer’s.
  • Suggest a familiar and easy activity. This might be folding laundry, doing a few dance moves, hair brushing, etc.
  • Massage therapy. Scientists have discovered that some Alzheimer’s patients respond well to massage.
  • Make sure everyone who visits is on the same page. Together with your home care agency, siblings, and other family members, devise a plan for addressing agitation, and stick to that plan. Make sure everyone knows the triggers.

In conclusion, agitation is probably the most worrisome aspect of Alzheimer’s disease. But there are many ways you can prevent agitation and cope with it. Identify your parent’s triggers, make sure all family members know what they are, and discuss strategies for keeping your mother or father safe and happy with your home care team.

Sources:  https://practicalneurology.com/articles/2015-nov-dec/managing-agitation-and-aggression-in-alzheimers-disease
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/coping-agitation-and-aggression-alzheimers-disease

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