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How to Respond to Agitation from Dementia Patients

How to Respond to Agitation from Dementia Patients

How to Respond to Agitation from Dementia Patients

A dementia diagnosis can be overwhelming for seniors and their loved ones. As cognitive functions gradually decline, behavioral symptoms can start to emerge. Agitation, in addition to memory changes, can develop. Caregivers are advised to respond appropriately to seniors’ agitation.

Behavioral and psychological symptoms are common in older people who live with dementia. In fact, up to 90 percent of these seniors experience them. Dementia symptoms, such as agitation, psychosis, anxiety, and depression, can feel more distressing than memory lapses.

Dementia patients can feel agitated for a number of reasons, including medication interactions, other medical conditions, or situations that worsen their thinking abilities. Elderly individuals with dementia experience a significant loss in their ability to process new information—a direct result of dementia.

Agitation is a feeling of worry or restlessness. Seniors overcome by agitation are unable to settle down. A dementia patient who is agitated may pace, experience sleeplessness, or act out aggressively. Lashing out verbally is common, as is trying to hit or hurt another individual.

What are possible causes of agitation?

Situations that can trigger agitation in seniors affected by dementia include moving to new surroundings, such as a nursing home or memory care facility. Similarly, traveling to new places or being hospitalized involve changes to the environment that can cause episodes of agitation.

Individuals that dementia patients perceive as new, such as houseguests, can spur agitation. Even familiar people, like family caregivers, can provoke agitation when caregiving arrangements are modified. Misperceived threats are also common causes of agitation in seniors with dementia.

Dementia makes everyday activities a challenge. Bathing, for instance, is exhausting, and dementia patients who are pushed to bathe can become agitated and lash out. Even being asked to remember people or events can instigate dementia patients, for whom these tasks are already difficult.

Agitation usually has a source. Physical pain, stress and too little or too much sleep can cause agitation. Discomfort, such as constipation or soiled undergarments, can also trigger it. Loneliness and having inadequate contact with people can also bring about agitation.

How do caregivers respond to agitation?

Attentive caregivers watch for early signs of agitation before they become behavioral issues. Do not attempt to ignore a dementia patient’s agitation, as doing nothing can worsen the problem. Rather, caregivers should attempt to cope with or manage agitation and aggression.

1.Give Reassurance

Reassurance can calm an agitated dementia patient. Speak calmly and slowly to the distressed individual. Listen carefully to show that their concerns and frustrations are heard. Offer empathy to demonstrate that the senior’s feelings of anger or fear are understood.

2.Offer Choices

Give dementia patients as much control over their lives as possible. One way to achieve this is to offer choices. Lay two sets of clothing on the bed and ask which set is preferred, for example. Or ask if the senior would like lunch at noon or one o’clock.

Remember that dementia patients can become confused when faced with multiple choices. Limit the number of choices to help them arrive at decisions more readily. Ask questions that require a “yes” or “no” answer, rather than open-ended ones that demand elaborate responses.

3.Establish Routine

Dementia patients thrive in routine, and a daily schedule that seniors come to expect can reduce agitation. Serve meals at the same times each day. Likewise, help the senior get ready for bed on a regular schedule. Bathing and dressing should also be done at the same times each day.

4.Increase Feelings of Security

Familiarity enhances feelings of security in seniors with dementia. This is why living in a familiar home environment is most beneficial to dementia patients. Caregivers can increase seniors’ feelings of security by placing photographs and well-loved objects throughout the home.

5.Reduce Noise

A peaceful living environment serves the needs of dementia patients best. Reduce noise when possible, such as by turning off a blaring radio or television set. Remove clutter from the floors—which not only helps reduce agitation but can prevent a fall and subsequent injury.

6.Use Distractions

When a senior becomes agitated, try using distractions. Methods include offering a favorite snack or beverage; to reduce agitation, limit the amount of caffeine the senior drinks. Distractions can also be in the form of an activity; ask the senior to go on a walk around the block, for instance.

Caregivers have plenty of additional ways to calm an agitated dementia patient, such as introducing aromatherapy, giving massage therapy, breaking out in dance, and playing music. While medications are an option, nondrug therapies are most effective when they are used early.

Agitation or acts of aggression can be alarming. When a dementia patient lashes out, it is important for the caregiver to protect himself or herself, as well as others. If necessary, step out of the room until the aggressive behavior stops. Try to prevent the senior from engaging in self-harm.

Agitation is a common behavioral symptom of dementia. When you need ongoing help calming an elderly loved one with dementia, choose the memory care services from Assisting Hands Home Care. Our professional caregivers are trained to identify and compassionately manage dementia symptoms.

We implement the abovementioned tactics to soothe a senior acting out in fits of agitation. Aside from agitation, older dementia patients can wander. Our caregivers gently lead these seniors back to safety. Since dementia patients should never be left alone, we monitor them continuously.

Memory care from our reputable home care agency also includes discreet help with personal hygiene tasks, as well as issues that arise from incontinence. We prepare nutritious meals, shop for groceries, provide transportation to doctors’ offices, and give timely medication reminders.

Older adults receive the highest quality Alzheimer’s and dementia care from Assisting Hands Home Care. We are privileged to serve the needs of seniors living in Burr Ridge, IL | Lyons, IL | Indian Head Park, IL McCook, IL | Hodgkins, IL | Countryside, IL | Willow Springs, IL | Palisades, IL | La Grange Highlands, IL | Clarendon Hills, IL | Brookfield, IL | Western Springs, IL | Hinsdale, IL | Darien, IL | La Grange, IL | Downers Grove, IL | Oak Brook, IL | Willowbrook, IL, and the surrounding neighborhoods. Call us today at (630) 407-1932 to schedule an in-home consult and start reliable memory care.